On Mar. 24, 1765, British Parliament passed the first Quartering Act that targeted its North American colonies.

The act required the colonists to quarter British soldiers at “inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualing houses, and the houses of sellers of wine and houses of persons selling of rum, brandy, strong water, cider or metheglin.” Beyond housing, colonists were also expected to provide food to the forces.

The appearance of a standing army in North America raised alarm, as no armed force occupied the colonies since the French and Indiana War. The Quartering Act was also extremely controversial, and perceived as a direction violation of the British constitutional system. In 1628, Charles I was rebuked by Parliament and forced to sign the Petition of Right. Among the limitations imposed on the king under this agreement was a prohibition on the forced billeting of soldiers.

In New York, the colonial legislature refused to comply with the dictate, and British forces were forced to remain on ships within the harbor. In response to the dispute, Parliament passed a resolution suspending the authority of New York’s governor and legislature. However, this decision was never carried out, since the colonial assembly ultimately agreed to facilitate the quartering law. Other colonies found various ways to evade the requirement, while the issue remained contentious.

The detested law also served as a precedent for future quartering mandates. In 1774, a new Quartering Act, which was diligently enforced against Massachusetts, would spark additional conflict and contribute to the beginnings of a united colonial opposition to Britain.

Dave Benner