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No. 40.

Boston Port Act

March 31, 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 merchandise, at the town, and within the harbour, of Boston, in the province of Massachuset’s Bay, in North America.

WHEREAS dangerous commotions and insurrections have been fomented and raised in the town of Boston, in the province of Massachuset’s Bay, in New England, by divers ill-affected persons, to the subversion of his Majesty’s government, and to the utter destruction of the publick 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 commerce of his Majesty’s subjects cannot be safely carried on there, nor the customs payable to hisMajesty duly collected; and it is therefore expedient that the officers of his Majesty’s customs should be forthwith removed from the said town: . . . be it enacted . . . , That from and after . . . [June 1, 1774,] . . . it shall not be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever to lade, 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 merchandise 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 Massachuset’s 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 merchandise whatsoever, to be brought from any other country, province, or place, or any other part of the said province of the Massachuset’s Bay in New England, upon pain of the forfeiture of the said goods, wares, and merchandise, 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 merchandise, 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 Massachuset’s Bay in New England, or be laden or taken into such barge, hoy, lighter, wherry or boat, from or out of any ship or vessel coming in and arriving from any other country or province, or other part of the said province of the Massachuset’s Bay in New England, such barge, hoy, lighter, wherry, or boat, shall be forfeited and lost.

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III. And be it further enacted . . . , That if any ship or vessel shall be moored or lie at anchor, 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 ship 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.

IV. 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 . . . ; nor to any fuel or victual brought coastwise from any part of the continent of America, for the necessary use and sustenance of the inhabitants of the said town of Boston, provided the vessel wherein the same are to be carried shall be duly furnished with a cocket and let-pass, after having been duly searched by the proper officers of his Majesty’s customs at Marblehead, in the port of Salem, in the said province of Massachuset’s Bay . . . ; nor to any ships or vessels which may happen to be within the said harbour of Boston on or before . . . [June 1, 1774,] . . . 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 merchandise, provided the said ships and vessels do depart the said harbour within fourteen days after the said . . . [June 1, 1774]. . . .

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VIII. And be it further enacted . . . , 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 precincts 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 . . . 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, and places, so appointed within the said harbour, and none other, any goods, wares, and merchandise whatever.

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X. Provided also, and it is hereby declared and enacted, That nothing herein contained 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 said bay or islands, 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 one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three, and in the month of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four.

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Chicago: Pickering, ed., "Boston Port Act," Statutes at Large in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. William MacDonald (1863-1938) (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916), 151–154. Original Sources, accessed December 6, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XYT9ZSMA31P436K.

MLA: . "Boston Port Act." Statutes at Large, edited by Pickering, Vol. XXX, in Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, edited by William MacDonald (1863-1938), New York, The Macmillan Company, 1916, pp. 151–154. Original Sources. 6 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XYT9ZSMA31P436K.

Harvard: (ed.), 'Boston Port Act' in Statutes at Large. cited in 1916, Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1913, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.151–154. Original Sources, retrieved 6 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XYT9ZSMA31P436K.