What Was The Massachusetts Government Act?
The Massachusetts Government Act was an act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain to change the ongoing independent (almost) governance system of the 13 colonies’ Massachusetts province.
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Through This New Act, Britain Tried To Transfer Massachusetts Province’s Governance Power From Local (colonists) Leaders’ To Their Royally Appointed Governor’s Hand.
The Act Almost Took Away All The Political Powers of The People of Massachusetts, Which Before They Enjoyed Via The Massachusetts Charter of 1691.
The Parliament of Britain passed this law in 1774 and it got the royal assent on 20th May.
But what was so special in this act?
Actually, this act significantly increased the royally appointed governor’s power in Massachusetts province and abrogated 1691’s Massachusetts Charter.
Therefore, American colonists included it in the list of the five Intolerable Acts.
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What Was The Purpose of the Massachusetts Government Act?
This was one of the five Intolerable Acts of 1774.
They passed it to punish colonists, especially Bostonians for the guilt of the Boston Tea Party.
Because after the Boston Tea Party incident, the city transformed into the center of growing unrest of the whole 13 colonies.
British afraid that the unrest would get spare to the other colonies also. And if it would happen, the condition would become critical to control for English authorities.
Therefore to contain it soon within Boston’s land segment, they brought this new act.
Simply, the act transferred the power of Massachusetts governance’s from the local leaders to the hand of the British Empire (through royally appointed Governor).
Before the Massachusetts Government Act passed, the people of the province enjoyed a special ability to elect their executive council members.
Through the council, local people could participate in their governance system and can elect their civil officers.
All in all, because of this reason, the province governance’s nature was quite a more independent type than the other 12 colonies.
But the act abrogated this feature completely. This new act widely increased the power of the royally appointed Governor.
And Governor now became able to appoint their civil officers and dissolve the locally formed council at any time.
The most interesting fact was, to enforce this law in a much powerful way, Britain appointed their military General as the colony’s new Governor.
How The British Empire Implemented This Law?
In October 1774, English Governor Thomas Gage dissolved the provincial assembly.
Later local leaders of Massachusetts highly criticized this action.
To counter their action, local leaders even ignored the dissolution by the English Governor.
After the dissolution, local leaders formed their own government and started controlling everything outside of Boston city.
This government worked till 1780.
Did The British Parliament Repeal Massachusetts Government Act?
Yes, the Parliament of Great Britain had to repeal the act, in 1778.
But what was the reason for this revocation?
Actually, during this period of time, the Revolutionary War of America’s independence was in peak.
Patriots started getting the upper hand in that war.
On the other hand, in 1778, Britain’s all-time worst enemy France also entered the game.
For all these reasons, the British started realizing that they would soon lose 13 colonies.
So, to calm the situation down and attract patriots to the table for a proper diplomatic negotiation, they repealed the Massachusetts Government Act in 1778.
However, it made no effect because it was already too late by now for the English authority.