Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1774

Parliament passes the Boston Port Act

On this day in 1774, British Parliament passes the Boston Port Act, closing the port of Boston and demanding that the city’s residents pay for the nearly $1 million worth (in today’s money) of tea dumped into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773.

The Boston Port Act was the first and easiest to enforce of four acts that together were known as the Coercive Acts. The other three were a new Quartering Act, the Administration of Justice Act and the Massachusetts Government Act.

As part of the Crown’s attempt to intimidate Boston’s increasingly unruly residents, King George III appointed General Thomas Gage, who commanded the British army in North America, as the new governor of Massachusetts. Gage became governor in May 1774, before the Massachusetts Government Act revoked the colony’s 1691 charter and curtailed the powers of the traditional town meeting and colonial council. These moves made it clear to Bostonians that the crown intended to impose martial law.

In June, Gage easily sealed the ports of Boston and Charlestown using the formidable British navy, leaving merchants terrified of impending economic disaster. Many merchants wanted to simply pay for the tea and disband the Boston Committee of Correspondence, which had served to organize anti-British protests. The merchants’ attempt at convincing their neighbors to assuage the British failed. A town meeting called to discuss the matter voted them down by a substantial margin.

Parliament hoped that the Coercive Acts would isolate Boston from Massachusetts, Massachusetts from New England and New England from the rest of North America, preventing unified colonial resistance to the British. Their effort backfired. Rather than abandon Boston, the colonial population shipped much-needed supplies to Boston and formed extra-legal Provincial Congresses to mobilize resistance to the crown. By the time Gage attempted to enforce the Massachusetts Government Act, his authority had eroded beyond repair.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Fire kills 146 at Triangle Shirtwaist factory

In one of the most infamous incidents in America’s industrial history, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burns down on this day in 1911, killing 146 workers. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the ...read more

Last U.S. troops depart Somalia

At the end of a largely unsuccessful 15-month mission, the last U.S. troops depart Somalia, leaving 20,000 U.N. troops behind to keep the peace and facilitate “nation building” in the divided country. In 1992, civil war, clan-based fighting, and the worst African drought of the ...read more

The settlement of Maryland

The first colonists to Maryland arrive at St. Clement’s Island on Maryland’s western shore and found the settlement of St. Mary’s. In 1632, King Charles I of England granted a charter to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, yielding him proprietary rights to a region east of ...read more

Yugoslavia joins the Axis Powers

On this day, Yugoslavia, despite an early declaration of neutrality, signs the Tripartite Pact, forming an alliance with Axis powers Germany, Italy, and Japan. A unified nation of Yugoslavia, an uneasy federation of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, was a response to the collapse of ...read more

Verdict is announced in Scottsboro case

The Supreme Court hands down its decision in the case of Powell v. Alabama. The case arose out of the infamous Scottsboro case. Nine young black men were arrested and accused of raping two white women on train in Alabama. The boys were fortunate to barely escaped a lynch mob sent ...read more

Soviets announce withdrawal from Iran

In conclusion to an extremely tense situation of the early Cold War, the Soviet Union announces that its troops in Iran will be withdrawn within six weeks. The Iranian crisis was one of the first tests of power between the United States and the Soviet Union in the postwar world. ...read more

Star driver Danica Patrick born

On this day in 1982, Danica Patrick, the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race, America’s top level of open-wheel racing, is born in Beloit, Wisconsin. Patrick became involved in racing as a young girl and as a teenager moved to England in pursuit of better training ...read more