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In 1765, Parliament passed a quartering act that stated that British troops in America would be housed in barracks and in public houses unless and until the number of troops overwhelmed the facilities, at which time, the troops could be housed in private commercial property, such as inns and stables, and in uninhabited homes and barns. The quartering would be without compensation and, in fact, owners would be required to provide soldiers with certain necessities such as food, liquor, salt, and bedding, also without compensation.
As tensions rose in late 1773 and early 1774, the old quartering act was supplemented with the Quartering Act of 1774. This act, passed on June 2, 1774, required colonists to house troops not only as previously required, but also in private homes.
The Quartering Act is one of the Intolerable Acts that lead to dissent in the American colonies and to the creation of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances in 1774. While the other Intolerable Acts targeted Massachusetts specifically, the Quartering Act applied throughout the colonies, prompting wider protest and interest in revolt than may have been present if it had been restricted to Massachusetts.
The source for this text is the Avalon Project. The text has been modified slightly to expand abbreviations, modernize spelling, and enhance readability.
An act for the better providing suitable quarters for officers and soldiers in his Majesty's service in North America.
WHEREAS doubts have been entertained, whether troops can be quartered otherwise than in barracks, in case barracks have been provided sufficient for the quartering of all officers and soldiers within any town, township, city, district, or place, within his Majesty's dominions in North America: And whereas it may frequently happen, from the situation of such barracks, that, if troops should be quartered therein, they would not be stationed where their presence may be necessary and required: be it therefore enacted by the King's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That, in such cases, it shall and may be lawful for the persons who now are, or may be hereafter, authorized be law, in any of the provinces within his Majesty's dominions in North America, and they are hereby respectively authorized, empowered, and directed, on the requisition of the officer who, for the time being, has the command of his Majesty's forces in North America, to cause any officers or soldiers in his Majesty's service to be quartered and billeted in such manner as is now directed by law, where no barracks are provided by the colonies.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if it shall happen at any time that any officers or soldiers in his Majesty's service shall remain within any of the said colonies without quarters, for the space of 24 hours after such quarters shall have been demanded, it shall and may be lawful for the governor of the province to order and direct such and so many uninhabited houses, out-houses, barns, or other buildings, as he shall think necessary to be taken, (making a reasonable allowance for the same), and make fit for the reception of such officers and soldiers, and to put and quarter such officers and soldiers therein, for such time as he shall think proper.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act, and every thing herein contained, shall continue and be in force, in all his Majesty's dominions in North America, until March 24, 1776.