What is the significance of the Quartering Act?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When looking at the factors that led the colonists to declare independence from Great Britain, the Quartering Act played a role. Right after the French and Indian War ended, the British gained lots of land from France. The colonists had hoped to move to these new areas so they could get land cheaply. Owning land was a requirement for voting in some places in the colonies. However, the British passed the Proclamation of 1763. This prevented the colonists from moving to these new lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. The British were concerned about attacks by Native Americans and wanted to keep the colonists safe. The colonists viewed this law as one that denied them the opportunity to gain land.

The colonists were unhappy with this law. However, they became unhappier when the British passed the Quartering Act. This law required the colonists to provide housing, or quarters, for the British soldiers who were enforcing this law. The British believed the colonists should pay for some of the costs of having the soldiers protect them. The colonists thought it was unreasonable to pay for soldiers to enforce a law they didn’t want.

After the Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts were passed. One of the provisions of the Intolerable Acts was that the soldiers could be housed in the homes of private citizens. This was unacceptable to the colonists.

It is fair to say that if only the Proclamation of 1763 and the original Quartering Act were passed, the colonists probably wouldn’t have gone to war with Great Britain in 1776. However, combined with all the other unpopular laws and some of the violence that occurred, the Quartering Act was another example in the minds of the colonists of how the British were disrespecting the colonists and abusing their rights.

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