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The Quartering Act is a name that is given to a minimum of two Acts of Parliament in the 18th-century. These Quartering Acts were put into circulation by the Parliament of Great Britain and they ordered local governments of the American colonies to provide a place to stay and provisions for British soldiers that were required in the area. Each of the Quartering Acts were amendments to the Mutiny Act and had to be renewed annually by Parliament. They were originally used as a response to issues that arose during the French and Indian War and later became a source of tension between the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies and the government in London.
Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of forces in British North America, and other British officers who had fought in the French and Indian War, had found it hard to persuade colonial assemblies to pay for quartering and provisioning of troops on the march. The purpose of these laws was to take back hold of the colonies. Therefore, he asked Parliament to do something. Most colonies had supplied provisions during the war, but the issue was disputed in peacetime. The Province of New York was their headquarters, because the assembly had passed an Act to provide for the quartering of British regulars, but it expired on January 2, 1764, The result was the Quartering Act of 1765, which went far beyond what Gage had requested. No standing army had been kept in the colonies before the French and Indian War, so the colonies asked why a standing army was needed after the French had been defeated.
This first Quartering Act (citation 5 Geo. III c. 33) was given Royal Assent on March 24, 1765, and provided that Great Britain would house its soldiers in American barracks and public houses, as by the Mutiny Act of 1765, but if its soldiers outnumbered the housing available, would quarter them "in inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualing houses, and the houses of sellers of wine and houses of persons selling of rum, brandy, strong water, cider or metheglin", and if numbers required in "uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings." Colonial authorities were required to pay the cost of housing and feeding these troops.
When 1,500 British troops arrived at New York City in 1766 the New York Provincial Assembly refused to comply with the Quartering Act and did not supply billeting for the troops. The troops had to remain on their ships. With its great impact on the city, a skirmish occurred in which one colonist was wounded following the Assembly's refusal to provide quartering. For failure to comply with the Quartering Act, Parliament suspended the Province of New York's Governor and legislature in 1767 and 1769, but never carried it out, since the Assembly soon agreed to contribute money toward the quartering of troops; the New York Assembly allocated funds for the quartering of British troops in 1771.
The Quartering Act was circumvented in all colonies other than Pennsylvania.
This Act expired on March 24, 1767.
An amendment to the original Quartering Act (citation 14 George. III c. 54) was passed on June 2, 1774. This act was passed and enforced, along with many others, known by the colonists as the 'Intolerable Acts'. They were a reaction to the Boston Tea Party and that were aimed at quelling the radicalism in Massachusetts;. In the previous Act, the colonies had been required to provide housing for soldiers, but colonial legislatures had been uncooperative in doing so. The new Quartering Act similarly allowed a governor to house soldiers in other buildings,such as: barns, inns, among other unoccupied structures, if suitable quarters were not provided. It did not have the provision in the previous Act that soldiers be provided with provisions. The amendments made also created the requirement for the housing of troops to be a mutual agreement between the parties involved. Also if a government had laws that provided troops with billets, that were approved by the crown, did not have the Act applied to their province. Along with that the act had similar protective guidelines to that of the Mutiny Act in Great Britain at the time. These guidelines were punishments for people who were quartered in private buildings. They were the same whether you lived in England itself or its colonies.
This Act expired on March 24, 1776.
During the French and Indian War Britain had forcibly seized quarters in private dwellings. In the American Revolutionary War, the New York Provincial Congress barracked Continental Army troops in private homes. The Americans strongly opposed the quartering of British troops in their homes because the British Parliament had created the Mutiny Act under which the British army was supposed to be prohibited against quartering troops in private homes of citizens against their will. Although Parliament said that these laws were in effect in 1723, 1754, and 1756 the colonies did not get the benefit of these laws till after they acquired their freedom after the war. Because of this violation of their constitutional rights the colonies believed that liberty itself would be destroyed. Along with the fear of a loss of liberty, the colonists felt that the British army should be subordinate to civil authority since Parliament already stated that the army couldn’t force quartering through the Mutiny Act.
He has combined with people others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.