Quebec Act - Encyclopedia

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QUEBEC ACT, the title usually given to a bill introduced into the House of Lords on May 2, 1 774, entitled " An Act for making more Effectual Provision for the Government of the Province of Quebec, in North America." It passed the House of Lords on May 17, was discussed in the Commons from May 26 to June 13, and finally passed with some amendments. These were accepted by the Lords, in spite of the opposition of Lord Chatham, and the bill received the royal assent on June 22. The debates in the House of Commons are not found in the Parliamentary History, but were published separately by J. Wright in 1839. The speech of Lord Chatham is given in the Chatham Correspondence (iv. 351-353).

By this act the boundaries of the Canadian province of Quebec were extended so as to include much of the country between the Ohio and the Mississippi. The French inhabitants of the province were granted the liberty to profess " the religion of the Church of Rome ";"; the French civil law was established, though in criminal law the English code was introduced. Government was vested in a governor and council, a representative assembly not being granted till the Constitutional Act of 1791.

The granting of part of the Western territory to Quebec, and the recognition of the Roman Catholic religion, greatly angered the American colonies. On the other hand, it did much to keep the French Canadians from joining the Americans in the coming struggle. The act is still looked back to by the French in Canada as their great charter of liberty.

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