The Coercive Acts – A Heavy Hand Has the Opposite Effect

Today in History, March 28, 1774:

The British Parliament enacts the Coercive Acts, or what were called the Intolerable Acts in the colonies.

Since the end of the 7-years war, part of which was fought on the North American continent between Britain and France, the British Government was cash strapped. Part of their solution was to tax the American colonists, who did not have representation in Parliament. Taxation without representation led to increasing discontent in the colonies.

After the Boston Tea party in December of 1773, parliament decided to punish the Massachusetts colony, in hopes that the recalcitrant colony would back down, and the other colonies would calm themselves and pressure Massachusetts to behave.

The Boston Port Act closed the port of Boston until the colonials paid back the cost of the tea destroyed during the Tea Party to the East India Company, and until the King was satisfied that peace had been restored.

The Massachusetts Government Act took governance of the colony out of American hands. All administrators would be appointed by the British Governor, or the King. Citizens would only be allowed to have one town meeting per year.

The Administration of Justice Act allowed the Governor to move trials for royal officials accused of crimes to other colonies or Britain, effectively preventing witnesses from testifying in the trials.

The Quartering Act ordered that American colonists provide housing for British troops. Many believe that this forced colonists to house troops in their homes, but that is not correct; they were to house them in public buildings or vacant buildings.

Finally the Quebec Act drastically enlarged the territory of Quebec into lands previously considered to be part of the colonies. Aside from the obvious, the Protestant colonists believed the Roman Catholic French of Quebec were being primed for use against them.

The Intolerable Acts had the opposite of the effect Parliament intended. They had underestimated the Americans. Rather than turn on Massachusetts, the other colonies shipped in supplies that Boston could no longer get by sea and agreed to defend Massachusetts should she be attacked.

By September, the first Continental Congress had convened to organize a unified response.

Congress Censures Jackson

Today in History, March 28, 1834:

For the first time, Congress censures an American President, Andrew Jackson.

Jackson wanted to dismantle the 2nd “Bank of the United States”. With nearly all of the country’s finances controlled by a central bank, the ultra wealthy that controlled the bank had an inordinate amount of power. With this power they controlled economic and political events, more so than the government or the people.

Jackson (man of the people), angered by many of their actions, vetoed a Congressional act to renew the bank’s charter. He then had the treasury divide the funds formerly controlled by the Bank of the United States amongst numerous state banks, who were more willing to give loans to common citizens and to invest in western interests.

History.com’s report indicates that Democrat Jackson had more personal reasons, and that the dispute was to a large extent between him and Senator Henry Clay, who History.com identifies as a Whig, then in parenthesis indicates a Whig is the same as a Republican.

After listening to a biography of Jackson, I found that Jackson’s motives were more pure…he was the first President to come up from a hardscrabble life and resented the bank’s refusal to help lower income Americans.

Some of my other reading has taught me that Whig does not equal Republican. In 1854 (20 years after these events) several Whig politicians (including Abraham Lincoln) broke away from the Whig party and created the Republican party because they were abolitionists and felt the Whig party was not living up to their ideals. I don’t know whether the History Channel misreported these subjects intentionally, or out of simple error. Either way, don’t assume something is accurate simply because it made it into print. Study it for yourself, whether its history or politics. Which often are intertwined.