The British were not very happy with our little Tea Party. Lord North in particular made it a point to punish the Bostonians. At Lord North’s urging, Parliament passed in total what would be known as the Intolerable Acts. The first of these was the Boston Port Bill which closed the port of Boston. The port bill was passed on March the 25th. He followed that bill with the passage of the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act and the notorious Quartering Act.
America had allies within Parliament, such as Chatham, Edmund Burke the father of modern day conservatism, Conway, Johnstone and Fox. The debate over what to do with the wayward colonies would last for 7 years.
A summary of Lord North’s speech before Parliament on March the 14th, 1774 went something like the following:
After the reading of His Majesty’s words of the 7th, ” Lord North rose. He said it contained two propositions: the one to enable his Majesty to put an end to the present disturbances in America, the other to secure the just dependence of the colonies on the crown of Great Britain. His lordship observed that the present disorders originated in Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay; and hoped that the method he should propose to the House would be adopted. He should confine himself particularly to those disturbances which had been created since the 1st of December. He said it was impossible for our commerce to be safe whilst it continued in the harbour of Boston, and it was highly necessary that some port or other should be found for the landing of our merchandize where our laws would have full protection; he therefore hoped that the removal of the custom-house officers from the town of Boston would be thought a necessary step; and that the consequence of that would produce one other proposition, which would be the preventing any shipping from endeavoring to land their wares and merchandize there by blocking up the use of that harbour; he said he should move for leave to bring in a bill for those two purposes.
He observed that this was the third time the officers of the customs had been prevented from doing their duty in the harbour of Boston; he thought the inhabitants of the town of Boston deserved punishment. He said, Perhaps it may be objected that some few individuals may suffer on this account who ought not, but where the authority of a town had been, as it were, asleep and inactive, it was no such thing for the whole town to be fined for such neglect; he instanced the city of London in King Charles the Second’s time, when Dr. Lamb was killed by unknown persons, the city was fined in such; and the case of Edinburgh, in Captain Porteous’s affair, when a fine was set upon the whole; and also at Glasgow, when the house of Mr. Campbell was pulled down, part of the revenue of that town was sequestered to make good the damage.
He observed that Boston did not stand in so fair a light as either of the three before mentioned places, for that Boston had been upwards of seven years in riot and confusion, and associations had been held against receiving British merchandize so long ago. He observed that proceedings were openly carried on in the beginning of last November, to the 17th of December, denying the force of efficacy of the laws of this country to be exerted in the harbour of Boston; that during the above time there was not the least interposition offered by the inhabitants of the town; that their public meetings they had regularly given orders for nightly watches to be appointed, consisting of a large body of persons, which were to prevent the landing of the tea.. As the merchandize of Great Britain, this surely was highly criminal, and a direct opposition to the execution of an act of parliament; and as the tea belonging to the India Company had remained twenty days in the harbour without a clearance, they were afraid lest it should be seized by the custom-house officers, and by that means landed; they therefore destroyed it on the 20th day. That this appeared to be a violent and outrageous proceeding done to our fellow subjects by a set of people who could not, in any shape, claim more than the natural privilege of trading with their fellow subjects. That Boston had been the ringleader in all riots, and had at all times shewn a desire of seeing the laws of Great Britain attempted in vain in the colony of Massachusetts Bay.”
A Mr. Van argued that ” Boston ought to be knocked about the ears.” Feelings were frayed and anger displayed.
This was quite a different reaction than what John Adams said about the event. “This is the most significant movement of all. There is a dignity, a majesty, a sublimity, in this last effort of the patriots that I admire. This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have important consequences, and so lasting that I cannot but consider it as an epocha in history.”
Edmund Burke said as they were debating the issue, ” If you govern America at all, Sir, it must be by an army; but the Bill before us carries with it the force of that army, and I am of opinion they never will consent without force being used.” Later he would say, ” A great many red coats will never govern America.
The dye was cast as not long after the debate came Lexington and Concord and the shot heard around the world.