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The Quebec Act 1774 Essay

1. The British decided to pass the Quebec Act of 1774 to secure the loyalty of the Canadians to the British Crown in case of rebellions against them from the 13 Colonies.

2. They hoped to secure relations with the French, as a loyal Quebec could be used as a secure base for a military operation. Guy Carleton, the Governor-General at the time, convinced the British Crown that the Quebec Act was imperative to securing Quebec and convincing to inhabitants to aid Britain if a war broke out.

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3. The Quebec Act enlarged the territory of Quebec to include the Indian reserve on the western lands, and included the Ohio Valley. The inclusion of the Ohio Valley would thwart the westward expansion of the British-American colonies. As well, restoration of the Ohio Valley to Quebec would remove the restrictions on the fur trade.

Labrador was added, giving Quebec control over seal-hunting and coastal fishing. With this Act, Quebec would still be governed by an appointed Governor and council. However, the Council was open to Roman Catholic officeholders and thus allowed the seigniorial class to participate.

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4. The British mercantile group and the French Canadians in Quebec responded favourably to the revised boundaries and were gratified that the Ohio Valley became the exclusive domain of the St. Lawrence-centered fur trade and both welcomed the annexation of the coastal fisheries off Labrador to Quebec.

The British-American colonies regarded the inclusion of the Ohio Valley as further proof of British intentions to restrict their westward expansion. The Quebec Act gave full freedom of worship to Catholics and the right to collect tithes was restored to the clergy, much to the dislike of the habitants.

The merchants in Quebec and the British-American colonists shared common resentment over the religious freedom of the Catholic church. The denial of a legislative assembly assured the French Canadians that they would not be dominated by a British commercial minority, but British merchants were furious that they had been denied the right to an elected legislative assembly.

British-American colonies were astounded by Britain’s disregard for the loyal British Canadians, to them, it was evidence of British intention to suppress popularly elected assemblies in North America.

Conclusion: The Quebec Act, a statute of British Parliament, gave legal recognition to the Catholic Church, French law, and customs in Quebec; these fostered and strengthened the French-Canadian identity. The disregard of the British merchants in Quebec, the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, the denial of an elected legislative assembly, and the new boundaries of Quebec further fueled the rebellion in the British North American colonies.