The Coercive Acts were four laws passed by Parliament
designed to punish Massachusetts
for its continuing resistance to parliamentary rule, in particular, the Boston Tea Party
. Although some of the British leaders advised against the measures, King George III
and most of Parliament were determined to restore authority over the colonies. Since Massachusetts was widely believed to be the center of American resistance, the British felt that the passage of these acts would quash the rebellion at its source and set an example for the other colonies.
A brief synopsis of each of the acts.
The Boston Port Bill declared Boston Harbor closed until the East India Company and the customs office had been reimbursed for the losses they incurred as a result of the Boston Tea Party.
The Administration of Justice Act permitted British soldiers and Crown officials in Massachusetts to be tried in England rather than in the provincial courts if they were charged with a capital crime while quelling a riot or collecting revenue.
The Massachusetts Government Act virtually annulled the colony's charter. It significantly reduced the number of town meetings and changed most of the high elective offices in the province to appointments made by the king or governor.
The Quartering Act (the only one applicable to all of the colonies) legalized billeting troops in people's homes.
Like some of the earlier efforts to assert power, the passage of these acts backfired. In the First Continental Congress of 1774, they were declared unconstitutional and therefore non-binding. The Congress also called for sanctions against Britain and urged Massachusetts to withold taxes from the royal government until the acts were repealed, which they were, albeit in 1778, when it was already too late.
PS. It was not until after the passage of the Quebec Act that these acts were packaged together and were commonly called the Intolerable Acts