Petition against the Intolerable Acts

Petition against the Intolerable Acts
  • Title: Petition of Several Persons, Natives of America

  • Date : 11 May 1774

  • Catalogue number : Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/JO/10/3/265B

  • Description :

    Petition of Several Persons, Natives of America, whose Names are thereunto subscribed, against the Bill for 'An Act for better regulating the Government of the Province of The Massachusets Bay, in New England' and the Bill for 'An Act for the impartial Administration of Justice in the cases of Persons questioned for any Acts done by then in Execution of the Law, or for the Suppression of Riots and Tumults in the Province of The Massachusets Bay, in New England', both then before Parliament.

    In this majestically worded petition against what became known as the ‘Intolerable Acts’ the colonists object to the first of the two Bills as 'calculated to deprive a whole province, without any form of Trial, of its Chartered Rights', in that it enhanced the powers of the Governor.  The second Bill, they declare, would expose the colony to 'the Insults and Injuries of a Lawless Soldiery'. The petitioners conclude by beseeching 'the Right Honourable House not to attempt reducing them to a State of Slavery, which the English principles of Liberty, they inherit from their Mother Country, will render worse than death'.

    The petition was signed by, among others, the radical colonial politician Benjamin Franklin who was in London at the time. Franklin's signature is the fourth one down in the left hand column. On 4 July the following year, the 13 colonies declared themselves independent. Franklin was a member of the committee which drafted the declaration of independence, and thus became one of America's Founding Fathers.

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