Extracts from the Quebec Act (1774)


The Quebec Act was passed by the British parliament in June 1774. It provided a more effective system of government for the province of Quebec, which was still heavily populated by French colonists. Among the measures included in the Quebec Act were allowing French settlers to retain their own civil code of laws, as well as the religious freedom to practice Catholicism. The terms of the Quebec Act triggered outrage and anti-Catholic paranoia in the 13 colonies:


“An Act for making more effectual Provision for the Government of the Province of Quebec in North America…

The provisions made by the Proclamation [of 1763] in respect to the civil government of the province of Quebec… have been found, upon experience, to be inapplicable to the state and circumstances of the said province, the inhabitants of whom amounted to above 65,000 persons professing the religion of the Church of Rome, and enjoying an established form of constitution and system of laws, by which their persons and property had been protected, governed, and ordered, for a long series of years…

For the more perfect security and ease of the minds of the inhabitants of the said province, it is hereby declared that his Majesty’s Subjects… in the said province of Quebec may have, hold and enjoy the free exercise of the religion of the Church of Rome, subject to the King’s supremacy… and that the Clergy of the said Church may hold, receive and enjoy their accustomed dues and rights, with respect to such persons only as shall profess the said religion…

No person professing the religion of the Church of Rome, and residing in the said province. shall be obliged to take the oath required… or any other oaths substituted by any other Act in the Place thereof; but that every such Person who, by the said Statute, is required to take the following oath:

‘I do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to his Majesty King George, and him will defend to the utmost of my Power, against all traitorous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever, which shall be made against his person, crown and dignity… this I do swear without any equivocation, mental evasion or secret reservation, and renouncing all pardons and dispensations from any power or person whomsoever to the contrary. So help me God.'”

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