|Long title||An Act for the Better Regulating the Government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England.|
|Citation||14 Geo. 3 c. 45|
|Introduced by|| The Rt. Hon. Lord North, KG, MP |
Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer & Leader of the House of Commons
|Territorial extent||Province of Massachusetts Bay|
|Royal assent||20 May 1774|
|Commencement||1 July 1774|
|Repealed by||Province of Massachusetts Bay Act 1778 (18 Geo. 3 c. 11)|
|Relates to||Intolerable Acts|
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The Massachusetts Government Act (14 Geo. 3 c. 45) was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, receiving royal assent on 20 May 1774. The act effectively abrogated the Massachusetts Charter of 1691 of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and gave its royally-appointed governor wide-ranging powers. The colonists said it altered by parliamentary fiat the basic structure of colonial government. They vehemently opposed it and would not let it operate. It was a major step on the way to the start of the American Revolution in 1775.
The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.
Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in others that is a separate step. Under a modern constitutional monarchy royal assent is considered to be little more than a formality; even in those nations which still, in theory, permit the monarch to withhold assent to laws, the monarch almost never does so, save in a dire political emergency or upon the advice of their government. While the power to veto a law by withholding royal assent was once exercised often by European monarchs, such an occurrence has been very rare since the eighteenth century.
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in British America and one of the thirteen original states of the United States from 1776 onward. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William III and Mary II, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The charter took effect on May 14, 1692 and included the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Plymouth Colony, the Province of Maine, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the direct successor. Maine has been a separate state since 1820, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are now Canadian provinces, having been part of the colony only until 1697.
The Act is one of the Intolerable Acts (also known as Repressive Acts and Coercive Acts), designed to suppress dissent and restore order in Massachusetts. In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, Parliament launched a legislative offensive against Massachusetts to control its errant behavior. British officials believed that their inability to control Massachusetts was rooted in part in the highly independent nature of its local government. On May 2, 1774, Lord North, speaking as head of the ministry, called on Parliament to adopt the Act on the ground that the whole colony was "in a distempered state of disturbance and opposition to the laws of the mother country."
The Intolerable Acts were punitive laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 after the Boston Tea Party. The laws were meant to punish the Massachusetts colonists for their defiance in the Tea Party protest in reaction to changes in taxation by the British to the detriment of colonial goods. In Great Britain, these laws were referred to as the Coercive Acts.
The Boston Tea Party was a political and mercantile protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1773. The target was the Tea Act of May 10, 1773, which allowed the British East India company to sell tea from China in American colonies without paying taxes apart from those imposed by the Townshend Acts. American Patriots strongly opposed the taxes in the Townshend Act as a violation of their rights. Demonstrators, some disguised as Native Americans, destroyed an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company.
Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford,, better known by his courtesy title Lord North, which he used from 1752 to 1790, was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1770 to 1782. He led Great Britain through most of the American War of Independence. He also held a number of other cabinet posts, including Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The Massachusetts Government Act abrogated the colony's charter and provided for a greater amount of royal control. Massachusetts had been unique among the colonies in its ability to elect members of its executive council. This Act took away that right and instead gave the king sole power to appoint and dismiss the council. Additionally, many civil offices that had previously been chosen by election were now to be appointed by the royal governor.Town meetings were forbidden without consent of the governor. As Lord North explained to Parliament, the purpose of the act was "to take the executive power from the hands of the democratic part of government".
The Massachusetts Governor's Council is a governmental body that provides advice and consent in certain matters – such as judicial nominations, pardons, and commutations – to the Governor of Massachusetts. Councillors are elected by the general public and their duties are set forth in the Massachusetts Constitution.
A town meeting is a form of direct democratic rule, used primarily in portions of the United States – principally in New England – since the 17th century, in which most or all the members of a community come together to legislate policy and budgets for local government. This is a town- or city-level meeting where decisions are made, in contrast with town hall meetings held by state and national politicians to answer questions from their constituents, which have no decision-making power.
Power was centralized in the hands of the royal governor, and historic rights to self-government were abrogated. The Act provided that local officials were no longer to be elected:
Most important, regarding town meetings, the key instrument of local rule:
When Governor Thomas Gage invoked the act in October 1774 to dissolve the provincial assembly, its Patriot leaders responded by setting up an alternative government that actually controlled everything outside Boston. They argued the new Act had nullified the contract between the king and the people. They ignored Gage's order for new elections and set up the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. It acted as the province's (and from 1776 the state's) government until the 1780 adoption of the Massachusetts State Constitution. The governor only had control in Boston, where his soldiers were based.
General Thomas Gage was a British Army general officer and colonial official best known for his many years of service in North America, including his role as British commander-in-chief in the early days of the American Revolution.
Patriots were those colonists of the Thirteen Colonies who rejected British rule during the American Revolution and declared the United States of America as an independent nation in July 1776. Their decision was based on the political philosophy of republicanism as expressed by spokesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine. They were opposed by the Loyalists who supported continued British rule.
The Massachusetts Provincial Congress (1774–1780) was a provisional government created in the Province of Massachusetts Bay early in the American Revolution. Based on the terms of the colonial charter, it exercised de facto control over the rebellious portions of the province, and after the British withdrawal from Boston in March 1776, the entire province. When Massachusetts declared its independence in 1776, the Congress continued to govern under this arrangement for several years. Increasing calls for constitutional change led to a failed proposal for a constitution produced by the Congress in 1778, and then a successful constitutional convention that produced a constitution for the state in 1780. The Provincial Congress came to an end with elections in October 1780.
Parliament repealed the Act in 1778 as part of attempts to reach a diplomatic end to the ongoing American Revolutionary War.
The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence, was an 18th-century war between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America.
Quartering Act is a name given to two or more Acts of British Parliament requiring local governments of the American colonies to provide the British soldiers with housing and food. Each of the Quartering Acts was an amendment to the Mutiny Act and required annual renewal by Parliament. They were originally intended as a response to issues that arose during the French and Indian War and soon became a source of tensions between the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies and the government in London, England. These tensions would later lead toward the American Revolution.
The Boston Port Act was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain which became law on March 31, 1774, and took effect on June 1, 1774. It was one of five measures that were enacted during the spring of 1774 to punish Boston for the Boston Tea Party.
The Administration of Justice Act, or Act for the Impartial Administration of Justice, also popularly called the Murdering Act or Murder Act, was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It became law on 20 May 1774. It is one of the measures that were designed to secure Britain's jurisdiction over the American dominions. As such it is a part of the Grievances of the United States Declaration of Independence.
Tea Act 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The principal objective was to reduce the massive amount of tea held by the financially troubled British East India Company in its London warehouses and to help the financially struggling company survive. A related objective was to undercut the price of illegal tea, smuggled into Britain's North American colonies. This was supposed to convince the colonists to purchase Company tea on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly agreeing to accept Parliament's right of taxation. Smuggled tea was a large issue for Britain and the East India company, since approximately 86% of all the tea in America at the time was smuggled Dutch tea.
The Suffolk Resolves was a declaration made on September 9, 1774 by the leaders of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. The declaration rejected the Massachusetts Government Act and resolved on a boycott of imported goods from Britain unless the Intolerable Acts were repealed. The Resolves were recognized by statesman Edmund Burke as a major development in colonial animosity leading to adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776, and he urged British conciliation with the American colonies, to little effect. The First Continental Congress endorsed the Resolves on September 17, 1774.
The First Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from twelve of the Thirteen Colonies who met from September 5 to October 26, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. It was called in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament, which the British referred to as the Coercive Acts, with which the British intended to punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party.
The Powder Alarm was a major popular reaction to the removal of gunpowder from a magazine by British soldiers under orders from General Thomas Gage, royal governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, on September 1, 1774. In response to this action, amid rumors that blood had been shed, alarm spread through the countryside to Connecticut and beyond, and American Patriots sprang into action, fearing that war was at hand. Thousands of militiamen began streaming toward Boston and Cambridge, and mob action forced Loyalists and some government officials to flee to the protection of the British Army.
The Restraining Acts of early 1775 were two Acts passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, which limited colonial trade in response to both increasing and spreading civil disobedience in Massachusetts and New England, and similar trade restrictions instituted by elected colonial representatives. With time the foment would spread to most of its American Colonies. The first restraining act, known variously as the New England Trade And Fisheries Act, the New England Restraining Act, or the Trade Act 1775 (c.10), limited the export and import of any goods to and from only Great Britain, Ireland, and the British West Indies; it also prohibited the New England colonies from fishing in the waters off Newfoundland and most of America's Atlantic coast, without special permissions and documentation, and imposed stiff penalties on both perpetrators and administrators if violations occurred. Previously legal or finessed trade between the colonies themselves or with other nations was prohibited, and enforced by naval blockade, effective July 1, 1775. The second restraining act, known as the Trade Act 1775 (c.18), similarly limited the export or import of any goods by way of only Great Britain, Ireland, and the British West Indies for most colonies south of New England; it was passed shortly after the first, upon receiving news in April that the colonial's trade boycott had spread widely among other colonies. Only New York, Delaware, North Carolina and Georgia would escape these restraints on trade, but only for a few months.
The Explanatory Charter was a supplement to the royal charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay issued by King George I on August 26, 1725. The provincial charter, issued by William III and Mary II in 1691, was modified, and certain of its terms were clarified.
The Hutchinson Letters Affair was an incident that increased tensions between the colonists of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and the British government prior to the American Revolution. In June 1773 letters written several years earlier by Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, governor and lieutenant governor of the province at the time of their publication, were published in a Boston newspaper. The content of the letters was propagandistically claimed by Massachusetts radical politicians to call for the abridgement of colonial rights, and a duel was fought in England over the matter.
"Provincial Congress" can refer to one of several extra-legal legislative bodies established in some of the Thirteen Colonies early in the American Revolution. Some were referred to as congresses while others used different terms for a similar type body. These bodies were generally renamed or replaced with other bodies when the provinces declared themselves states.
Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a politician in colonial Massachusetts, a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States. He was a second cousin to his fellow Founding Father, President John Adams.
The Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, was a statement adopted by the First Continental Congress on October 14, 1774, in response to the Intolerable Acts passed by the British Parliament. The Declaration outlined colonial objections to the Intolerable Acts, listed a colonial bill of rights, and provided a detailed list of grievances. It was similar to the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, passed by the Stamp Act Congress a decade earlier.
The Massachusetts Convention of Towns was an extralegal assembly held in Boston in response to the news that British troops would soon be arriving to crack down on anti-British rioting. Delegates from 96 Massachusetts towns gathered in Faneuil Hall to discuss their options. The more militant faction, led by James Otis Jr., Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, wanted to organize an armed resistance. The more conservative faction, led by convention chairman Thomas Cushing, preferred to lodge a written complaint. The conservatives won out, and the delegates endorsed a series of mild resolutions before disbanding.
Barnstable’s Olde Colonial Courthouse, at 3046 Main St. in Barnstable, MA, was constructed c.1763, to replace Barnstable County’s first courthouse nearby. Barnstable County comprises all of Cape Cod, MA.
The United States Declaration of Independence contains 27 grievances against the decisions and actions of British King George III. Historians have noted the similarities with John Locke's works and the context of the grievances. Historical precedents such as the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights 1689 had established the principle that the King wass not to interfere with the Rights of Englishmen held by the people. In the view of the American colonies, the King had opposed the very purpose of government by opposing laws deemed necessary for the public good and by constantly meddling in the local affairs of the colonists.