Quebec Act of 1774

There had been numerous conflicts across the world, before 1774, between the British and French supporters; especially on the American continent. For seven years before, they were at war. At the end, the English were victorious. France got to keep their Caribbean islands because of sugar crop production, but not France. Beaver pelts were not as valuable. The French that remained in this country were now required to be loyal to the English throne.

England wanted to establish a dominant presence in Canada because they had seen an increase in uprisings and gangs in other parts of the American continent. They imposed the Québec law to dissuade the Canadians from following suit.

Quebec Act Definition

The British government needed to implement a governmental system in Canada around 1763, after a declaration was made. As such, the Québec Act was formed and lead by Guy Carleton. The citizens of France could now openly declare their religion of choice and utilize their systems and civil laws. However, British criminal law was used. The edict would see to it that people remained lawful and served the crown’s purposes. However, not all aspects of the new law favored those in America. Hence it was considered one of the Intolerable Acts by the patriotic Americans, and it gave rise to the Revolution in America’s south.

The laws further made provision for 23 councilors and a governor to oversee the council. Members would not be required to have certain religious leanings to join a public governing body. The new oath for office, no longer made it necessary and whether a person was Protestant or Roman Catholic, they could serve in public office. These serving members would be selected and not elected; a strategic move by England.

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Consequences of the Quebec Act

One of the areas covered by the Act was the boundary lines of Quebec. It would now include an area that was French populated, into its new borders. These lands originally encompassed several American states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Illinois. This increased Quebec’s size threefold. Understandably, those in America were infuriated.

These lands were promised to those in Pennsylvania and neighboring states. Now the wealthier folks of Quebec would manage these lands under the seigneuries system. This caused many to wonder why the British government would give preference to the French in doing so. It contributed in part to the American Revolution. And also, many of lesser to no wealth partnered secretly, with America to circumvent British rule. However, when the Americans tried to seize Quebec, it failed because the rich French-speaking people aligned with Britain. President Benjamin Franklin said they would have better luck if they bought Canada instead.

By 1783 there was a treaty signed after the Americans won; this led to the immigration of 50,000 American and English speaking loyalists occupying that region. They were able to generate enough agitation and representation for the British government to retract the Quebec Act and implement a more fair and partial constitution that gave equal rights to citizens of any wealth.

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