For abolishing the "free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies.”
The “neighboring Province” refers to Quebec, and “establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries,” This was altering the laws by the Quebec Act of 1774 which was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain setting procedures of governance in the Province of Quebec.
Principal components of the act:
• Expansion of territory to take over part of the Indian Reserve (1763), including much of what is now southern Ontario, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota.
• Replaced the oath of allegiance so that it no longer made reference to the Protestant faith.
• Guaranteed free practice of the Catholic faith.
• Restored the use of the French civil law for private matters while maintaining the use of the English common law for public administration, including criminal prosecution.
It is a reference to the Quebec Act of 1774, an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain -- and one of the "Intolerable Acts" denounced by the Thirteen Colonies.
This was a law designed to make the French colonists of New France (which had been conquered by the British in 1759) more amenable to British rule.
It succeeded -- mainly because it allowed the French to continue practicing the Catholic religion.
However, it drove the American colonists further towards rebellion -- not only did the Act mean that the nominal supremacy of the Anglican church in all British held colonies was being abandoned, it also expanded the Indian Reserve lands along the Mississippi. (This last limited the ability of the American colonies to expand westward, and reduced the amount of money to be made by buying up frontier land.)
Worst of all, it allowed the French colonists in Quebec to have recourse to French civil law for family and business matters. (English law was still used in criminal cases).
Hence, the Americans saw it as a threat to their status as Englishmen -- if English common law could be thrown away so casually in Quebec, what was to stop King George from doing the same in America?
In short, it was seen as an act of tyranny. Once again, the British Parliament had acted unilaterally, without regard for the feelings of the American colonists.
That is why it is listed among so many other 'crimes' against freedom in the Declaration of Independence.Jordan D · 7 years ago