How An Obscure Canadian Bill Helped Spark The American Revolution

An Unforgivable Act that targeted Canadians, not Americans

Grant Piper

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(Public domain)

When it comes to the causes of the American Revolution, most people can comfortably point to the Intolerable Acts (also known as the Coercive Acts) as the last major straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. The Intolerable Acts are traditionally considered to be the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act, and the Quartering Act. These laws were passed by the British Parliament as a punitive measure in response to the Boston Tea Party which took place the previous year in 1773.

But there was another piece of legislation bundled in the same session that caused just as much outrage (if not more) among the common people than these acts. Many of these acts were targeted specifically at the territory of Massachusetts and Boston itself but the Quebec Act, targeted at Canada, did more to enrage average American colonists than any of the acts aimed at Boston.

The Quebec Act of 1774

After the French and Indian War, the British came into possession of the French province of Quebec in North America. In 1774, Quebec was still largely French speaking and there were simmering tensions in Quebec among the Catholic French speaking population that mirrored some of the tensions building in the Thirteen Colonies to the south. The Quebec Act was an attempt to deal with these tensions and the British took a completely different strategy in dealing with Quebec as they did with Massachusettes.

The Quebec Act was passed during the same session of Parliament as the Intolerable Acts. Instead of punishing the French speaking citizens of Quebec, as they did to the English speaking citizens of Boston, the British rolled out the red carpet and gave into nearly every single one of the francophone demands.

The Quebec Act did the following:

  • Guaranteed the free practice of Catholicism within Quebec
  • Removed references to Protestantism within the oath of allegiance to the British Empire
  • Restored the Catholic Church’s ability to levy tithes
  • Restored portions of…

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Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.