In response to the Boston Tea Party, Parliment closes Boston's port with this, the Boston Port Act.
The following is the ACT of PARLIAMENT, assented to by his Majesty, on the 30th of March, 1774.
An ACT to discontinue in such manner, and for such time, as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading or shipping of goods, wares, and merchandize, at the town and within the harbour of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America.
WHEREAS dangerous commotions and insurections have been fomented and raised in the town of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England, by divers ill affected persons, to the subversion of his Majesty's government, and the utter destruction of the public peace, and good order of the said town; in which commotions and insurrections certain valuable cargoes of teas, being the property of the East India company, and on board certain vessels lying within the bay or harbour of Boston, were seized and destroyed: And whereas, in the present condition of the said town and harbour, the of his Majesty's subjects cannot be safely carried or the customs payable to his Majesty duly collected; and it is therefore expedient that the officers of his Majesty's custom should be forthwith removed from the said town: May it please your Majesty that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, and 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 from and after the first day of June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy four, it shall not be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever to lade or put, or cause or procure to be laden or put, off or from any quay, wharf, or other place, within the said town of Boston, or in or upon any part of the shore of the bay, commonly called the harbour of Boston, between a certain headland or point called Nahant Point, on the eastern side of the entrance into the said bay, and a certain other headland or point called Alderton Point, on the western side of the entrance into the said bay, or in or upon any island, creek, landing place, bank, or other place, within the said bay or headlands, into any ship, vessel, lighter, boat, or bottom, any goods, wares, or merchandize whatsoever, to be transported or carried into any other country, province, or place whatsoever or into any other part of the said province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England; or to take up, discharge, or lay on land, or cause or procure to be taken up, discharged, or laid on land, within the said town, or in or upon any of the places aforesaid, out of any boat, lighter, ship, vessel, or bottom, any goods, wares, or merchandize whatsoever, to be brought from any other country, province, or place, or any other part of the said province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, upon pain of the forfeiture of the said goods, wares, and merchandize, and of the said boat, lighter, ship, vessel, or other bottom into which the same shall be put, or out of which the same shall be taken, and of the guns, ammunition, tackle, furniture, and stores, in or belonging to the same; and if any such goods, wares or merchandize, shall, within the said town, or in any the places aforesaid, be laden or taken in from the shore, into any barge, hoy, lighter, wherry, or boat, to be carried on board any ship or vessel outward bound to any other country or province, or other part of the said province of the Bay in New England, or be laden or taken wherry, or boat, from or and arriving from any pro ing, shipping, or unshipping thereof, shall forfeit and lose treble the value therefore, to be computed at the highest price which such fort of goods, wares, and merchandize, shall bear at the place where such offence shall be committed, at the time when the same shall be so committed, together with the vessels and boats, and all the horses, cattle, and carriages, whatsoever made use of in the shipping, unshipping, landing, removing, carriage, or conveyance of any of the aforesaid goods, wares, and merchandize.
And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, or be seen hovering within the said bay, described and bounded as aforesaid, or within one league from the said bay so described, or the said headlands, or any of the islands lying between or within the same, it shall and may be lawful for any admiral, chief commander, or commissioned officer, of his Majesty's fleet or ships of war, or for any officer of his Majesty's customs, to compel such ships or vessel to depart to some other port or harbour, or to such station as the said officer shall appoint, and to use such force for that purpose as shall be found necessary; and if such ship or vessel shall not depart accordingly, within six hours after notice for that purpose given by such person as aforesaid, such ship or vessel, together with all the goods laden on board thereon, and all the guns, ammunition, tackle, and furniture, shall be forfeited and lost, whether bulk shall have been broken or not.
Provided always, that nothing in this act contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to any military or other stores for his Majesty's use, or to the ships or vessels whereon the same shall be laden, which shall be commissioned by, and in the immediate pay of his Majesty, his heirs or successors; nor to any fuel or victual brought coastwise from any part of America, for the necessary use and sustenance of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, provided wherein the same are to be carried shall be duly turn with a cockets and let pass, after having been duly search by the proper officers of his Majesty's customs at Marblehead, in the port of Salem, in the said province of Massachusetts Bay; and that some officer of his Majesty's customs be also there put on board the said vessel, who is hereby authorized to go on, and proceed with the said vessel, together with a sufficient number of persons, properly armed, for his defence, to the said town or harbour of Boston; nor to any ships or vessels which may happen to be within the said harbour of Boston on or before the first day of June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy four, and may have either laden or taken on board, or be there with intent to load or take on board, or to land or discharge any goods, wares, and merchandize, provided the said ships and vessels do depart the said harbour within fourteen days after the said first day of June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy four.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all seizure, penalties, and forfeitures, inflicted by this Act, shall be made and prosecuted by any admiral, chief commander, or commissioned officer, of his Majesty's fleet, or ships of war, or by the officers of his Majesty's customs
any such bribe or reward, or shall contract, agree, or treat with any person, so authorized as aforesaid, to commit any such offence, shall forfeit the sum of fifty pounds.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the forfeitures and penalties inflicted by this act shall and may be prosecuted, sued for, and recovered, and be divided, paid, and applied, in like manner as other penalties and forfeitures inflicted by any act or acts of parliament, relating to the trade or revenues of the British colonies or plantations in America, are directed to be prosecuted, sued for, or recovered, divided, paid, and by two several acts of parliament, the one passed in the fourth year of his present Majesty, intituled “ an act for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America; for continuing, amending, and making perpetual, an act passed in the sixth year of the reign of his late Majesty King George the Second, intituled an act for the better securing and encouraging the trade of his Majesty's sugar colonies in America; for applying the produce of such duties, and of the duties to arise by virtue of the said act, towards de the said colonies and plantations; for explaining an act made in the twenty sixth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled an act for the encouragement of the Greenland and Eastland traders, and for the better securing the plantation trade; and for altering and disallowing several drawbacks on exports from this kingdom, and more effectually preventing the clandestine conveyance of goods to and from the said colonies and plantations, and improving and securing the trade between the same and Great Britain.” The other passed in the eighth year of this present Majesty's reign, intituled “ an act for the more easy and effectual recovery of the penalties and forfeitures inflicted by the acts of parliament relating to the or revenues of the British colonies and plantations in America.”
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that every charter party bill of loadings, and other contract for consigning, shipping, or carrying any goods, wares, and merchandize whatsoever, to or from the said town of Boston, or any part of the bay or harbour thereof, described as aforesaid, which have been made or entered into, or which shall be made or entered into, so long as this act shall remain in full force, relating to any ship which shall thousand seven hundred and seventy four, shall be, and same are hereby declared to be, utterly void, to all intents and purpose whatsoever.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that whenever it shall be made to appear to his Majesty in his privy council, that peace and obedience to the laws shall be so far restored in the said town of Boston, that the trade of Great Britain may safely be carried on there, and his Majesty's customs duly collected, and his Majesty in his privy council shall adjudge the same to be true, it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, by proclamation or order of council, to assign and appoint the extent, bounds, and limits of the port or harbour of Boston, and of every creek or haven within the same or in the islands within the precinct thereof; and also to assign and appoint such and so many open places, quays, and wharfs, within the said harbour, creeks, havens, and islands, for the landing, discharging, lading, and shipping, of goods as his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, shall judge necessary and expedient, and also to appoint such and so many officers of the customs therein as his Majesty shall think fit; after which it shall be lawful for any person or persons to lade or put off from, or to discharge and land upon such wharfs, quays, or places, to be appointed within the said harbour, and none other any goods, wares, and merchandize whatever.
Provided always, that if any goods, wares, or merchandize, shall be laden or put off from, or discharged, or landed, upon any other place than the quays, wharfs, or places, so to be appointed, the same, together with the ships, boats, and other vessels, employed therein, and the horses or other cattle, and carriages used to convey the same, and the person or persons concerned or assisting therein, or to whose hand the same the illegal shipping or landing of goods.
Provided also, and it is hereby declared and enacted, that nothing herein contains shall extend or be construed to enable his Majesty to appoint such port, harbour, creeks, quays, wharfs, places, or officers, in the said town of Boston, or in the sid bay or island, until it shall sufficiently appear to his Majesty that full satisfaction hath been made by or on behalf of the inhabitants of the said town of Boston to the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, for the damage sustained by the said company by the destruction of their goods sent to the said town of Boston, on board certain ships or vessels as aforesaid, and until it shall be certified to his Majesty in council by the Governor or Lieutenant Governor of the said province, that reasonable satisfaction hath been made to the officers of his Majesty's revenue, and others who suffered by the riots and insurrections above mentioned in the months of November and December, in the year 1773, and in the month of January, 1774.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any action or suit shall be commenced, either in Great Britain or America, against any person or persons, for any fendant or defendants, in such action or suit, may plead the general issue, and give the said act, and the special matter in evidence, at any trial, to be had thereupon, and that the same was done in pursuance and by the authority of this act, and if it shall appear so to have been done, the jury shall find for the defendant or defendants; and if the plaintiff shall be nonsuited, or discontinue his action after the defendant or defendants shall have appeared, or if judgment shall be given upon any verdict or demurrer, against the plaintiff, the defendant or defendants shall recover treble costs, and have the like remedy for the same, as defendants have in order cases by law.