7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Friday, May 17, 2013

New York State and the Quartering Act of 1765

After the close of the French and Indian War, the British amassed troop population in the colonies to thwart further problems with the French and warring Natives. As these soldiers' numbers grew, the problem of where to house them grew, too. 

The Stamp Act, signed March 22, 1765, sought to collect money from colonists for this standing army. Then, under the Quartering Act of March 24 1765, barracks were to be constructed at colonists' expense, and communities were to provide ale, cider, bedding, fire, vinegar, salt, candles and other specific items to the soldiers. If the barracks proved insufficient, the soldiers were to be biletted at inns, taverns, barns, and even private residences of those selling wine or alcohol, and at livery stables, plus uninhabited residences and outbuildings.

Several forces were at play: transfers away from the frontier drew British fort soldiers to New York, Philadelphia, and other eastern cities and towns. Also, the crown's reticence to pay out retirements to the soldiers from the French and Indian War led to creating new work in the colonies for an army. If an influx of veterans returned to England it would create a great tax burden upon the loyal citizens there. Let them stay in the colonies and be compensated for the protection they provided.

From the Colonists' point of view, this boded trouble. They felt they didn't need the so-called protection of a standing army, but that it only existed to enforce compliance to the crown. More accustomed to militias who could be assembled for crisis and then disbanded, the colonists resented these soldiers. Militiamen were self-sufficient and could raise their own food and livelihood. These soldiers were akin to parasites, feeding off their harvests, lodging in their beds. It created no small burden on colonial communities.
Local NY City government officials refused to quarter arriving British troops at first, resulting in a minor skirmish.

Thomas Gage by John Copley
 In January 1766, the New York assembly voted to short fund the amount required to house Thomas Gage's expanding army. New Yorkers bore the brunt of the burden, since the greatest population of British soldiers resided there. By autumn the assembly decided not to fund them at all. Both sides became entrenched and embittered. 

“every Act of Oppression will sour their Tempers . . . and hasten their final Revolt” Benjamin Franklin

The Stamp Act was repealed in March of '66, but Parliament then passed the Declaratory Act giving itself the power to make whatever laws suited them, whether the colonists liked it or not. Its actual wording: “make laws . . . of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America . . . in all cases whatsoever.”

 In March 1767, Britain responded by putting a moratorium on assembly meetings until their troops were fully funded. They gave New York until August. The NY assembly acquiesced in June. 

A. F.,” The New York Journal; or the General Advertiser, 10 September 1767; reprint of letter printed in The Boston Gazette after news arrived of the threatened suspension of the New York assembly.

Let us rise then with one voice and declare like true Englishmen, we abhor slavery and such as would enslave; we love Liberty and her friends; and that we will encourage the one and depress the other by all justifiable means in our power. ⎯ Let us call upon our sister colonies to join with us in so glorious a work. Let no man think his influence too small to assist in it, but let everyone use his best endeavors to render it universal. Then shall we obtain our wishes and put to shame our enemies, who would gladly see us run into mad disorder and wild confusion at this critical juncture. ⎯ Let us pursue steadily this point without giving heed to their promises or threats, which are designed to lead us into error, and in the end destroy us. Tho’ the Press, that sure and grand support of Liberty and Right, should be threatened with the summary proceedings of the Star Chamber, 4 and our righteous opposition to slavery be called rebellion, yet will a true Englishman pursue his duty with firmness, and leave the event to Heaven.
4 Star Chamber: secret English court in the 1600's that prosecuted crimes without regard to the constitutional rights of Englishmen.

A second Quartering Act came in 1774. It was less burdensome than the first in that it didn't require colonists to provide provision to the troops. 
These were examples of the Intolerable Acts that led to the uniting of the colonies against British tyranny. 

The suffering and indignity of the Quartering Acts was so great that the third amendment to the constitution expressly forbids the forcible quartering of troops in private residences without consent.


  1. Kathy, I've been learning a lot about this period in history and it's a good reminder that the colonists didn't just decide to go rogue nation overnight! Things had gotten ugly long before 1776!

    I can't imagine the quartering act had any fans. What a nightmare!

  2. Hi Kathy--

    The Quartering Act truly made a mess of things. "From the Colonists' point of view, this boded trouble. They felt they didn't need the so-called protection of a standing army, but that it only existed to enforce compliance to the crown."

    A standing army is truly a scary thing, and they did eventually turn against the colonial citizens. The wealthy in Britain had paid a lot to keep this country out of French hands--but purely for their own monetary gain.

    But a few other things that your post brought to mind: The British had ten times more troops than the French; yet they lost many a battle because of poor leadership. The Iroquois were disgusted during both the F &I War and in the Rev. as to how the British actually carried on campaigns. And finally, that the eldest son of the landed gentry usually stayed put and inherited the estate, while the second-born ended up receiving a paid commission in the military--whether he was cut out for the service or not; didn't always seem to be a good plan to me! Could never figure it out; unless it meant that the family did their duty for their country, no matter what. Hope someone can enlighten me.

    This is a great post, Kathy--thank you!!

  3. Thanks, Pat and Debra. I am in awe of you ladies' knowledge of this period, and of NY specifically. Thrilled that you both came by.


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