The Quebec Act of 1774 was a rule imposed by the British Parliament to set the new authority of the province of Quebec, which was another colony in North America in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War. Due to the rise of aggressive rebels and groups in the American colonies, the British Empire became worried that the French Canadians would follow afterwards. The Quebec Act was formed in order to keep the people in check and to make sure that they kept their loyalties to the Parliament. There were several stipulations under the act, many of which did not go into the favor of the American colonists.
For the first provision, the Quebec Act further defined the new boundaries of the province of Quebec. To add to the territory of Canada, a French province at that time, the neighboring states of Southern Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and some parts of Minnesota were also included in Quebec’s new land borders. The new land area became three times larger than the original size of the French region.
This greatly angered most Americans, especially in the regions of New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, because the lands of Ohio that were given to Quebec were actually assigned to them previously by the Parliament. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the new order also provisioned that the seigneuries system be applied to the new lands. This meant that the new areas will be owned by the British Empire, as well as the wealthy folks in Quebec, and the colonists would be the seigneurs that would maintain them.
New System in the North
Another provision in the act modified the government system. Governors were assigned and appointed by the Parliament to rule the parts of the new areas. What the Act did not include was the provision for the law-
making body. The Act also issued that the officers should redirect their oath with Elizabeth I to George III, which had no orientation to the Protestant religion. Moreover, the French Canadians were then given the unrestrained practice of Catholicism. With these in effect, the inhabitants of Quebec would be allowed to lawfully take part in provincial affairs without giving up their faith.
They were however required to pay tithes, or taxes paid to fund religious activities. Aside from these, the law system was also modified. The new law system of Quebec adopted the private laws of the Frenchmen. However, when criminal cases are involved, the jurisdiction of the British Empire was applied. All of these provisions were made to obviously strengthen the power of the Parliament in all of its colonies. Basically speaking, it wanted to remind the colonies that the British rule was still in order.
As the Parliament had anticipated, the proclamation of the Quebec Act only angered the Americans more, especially the freedom fighters. However, what they did not know was that behind the scenes, the lower class of the Quebec people joined with the American cause in order to get rid of the rule of the British Empire. This became one of the main causes that ignited the Americans to start the American Revolution.