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Quebec Act

french, colonies and revolution

QUEBEC ACT; the administrative measure passed by the British Parliament in 1774, for the purpose of adding the regions extending to the Ohio and Mississippi over which the French had exercised authority, to the province of Quebec, which had been limited by the Proc lamation of 1763 to an area of about 100,000 square miles along the central Saint Lawrence. The act established also the body of the French customary law as the permanent civil code of the region, the introduction of English civil law among the French-speaking inhabitants having been found imracticable; it admitted also to a partial franchise the Roman Catholic popula tion, guaranteeing them freedom of public wor ship, confirming them in the possession of their ancient churches and revenues, but withholding from them representative institutions, author ity over this vast territory being vested in a council appointed by the executive power of Great Britain.

The act, which had for its main motives the welfare of the French Canadians and the secur ity and unhampered progress of the colonies and of colonial trade, was viewed with indifference by the Canadians, was unpopular in England, aroused the indignation of the older American colonies and had considerable influence in di recting the early course of the Revolution. To

it the Declaration of Independence refers as follows: °Abolishing the free system of Eng lish laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies? For opposing views on the measure consult Coffin, e Quebec Act and the American Revolution) in The Yale Review (1895) ; Bancroft, (1891); and McArthur, D., (Canada under the Quebec Act' in Canada and Its Provinces (Vol. III, 1914).