These Acts Are Intolerable

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 12237

Often, when citizens protest against mistreatment, some governments make the situation worse by becoming more oppressive. When Great Britain did that, the American colonists responded with fire power!


United States

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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How do you think the British government responded to 342 chests of tea being dumped into the Boston Harbor?

Boston Tea Party

Image by W.D. Cooper from "The History of America" published in London by E. Newbury in 1789, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

As you can imagine, the British did not respond kindly to the Boston Tea Party. In 1774, Parliament began issuing the Coercive Acts. The Coercive Acts were a series of laws that were much worse than anything else they had ever issued in the colonies and showed Parliament’s complete control over the colonies. These laws were so hated by the colonists that they referred to them as the "Intolerable Acts." There were four main laws that made up the Coercive Acts:

  1. The first Coercive Act, issued in 1774, was the Boston Port Act. The Boston Port Act closed the Boston port, restricting trade in Massachusetts until the people of Boston paid back all the revenue lost during the Boston Tea Party. At the time, the tea that had been dumped into the harbor was worth more than $10,000. It likely would have taken Bostonians years to pay back the money.
  2. The second Coercive Act was the Quartering Act. The Quartering Act required colonists to provide British soldiers with shelter and food. The Quartering Act impacted all the colonies, and colonists were not compensated for providing these services to British soldiers.
  3. The third Coercive Act was the Administration of Justice Act. Under this act, British soldiers accused of crimes while on duty could avoid a trial in the colonies and be taken to England for trial. Many colonists feared the British soldiers would commit crimes against the colonists, knowing they would be sent back to England for an easy trial.
  4. The final Coercive Act was the Massachusetts Government Act. This act required the formerly-elected members of the Massachusetts Council to be replaced with members appointed by the king. The act also made it illegal for people in Massachusetts to have political meetings without consent from the king.

As you see, many of the Coercive Acts were directed at Massachusetts, but they still had a major impact on all of the colonies. Many historians agree that the Coercive Acts sent the colonists to their boiling point. Many felt the British had exerted their power too far. They also did not think it was fair that all the colonists were being so harshly punished when only a few had participated in the Boston Tea Party.

For the months following the Coercive Acts, tension continued to mount between the colonists and the British. Fighting between colonists and British soldiers became more frequent. Within less than a year after the final Coercive Act was issued, shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, signaling the start of the Revolutionary War.

To continue learning about the Coercive Acts, watch the following video from Reading Through History. As you watch History Brief: The Intolerable Acts, write down any interesting facts or information you hear. You will be able to use your notes during an activity in the Got It? section:Image - Video


  • How would you have felt if you were living in a colony other than Massachusetts?
  • Do you think it was fair that all of the colonies had to abide by the Coercive Acts?
  • Do you think the British response to the Boston Tea Party was justified?

Discuss your responses with your teacher or parent.

Then, move on to the Got It? section to review what you have learned about the Coercive Acts by taking a quiz.

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