When Parliament voted to thrust the burdensome Stamp Act upon American colonists, they also
imposed passed along side it a piece of legislation called the Mutiny Act of 1765. (The first Mutiny Act was passed in 1689, but was renewed every year until 1879 as Britain’s way around the Bill of Rights prohibition on the existence of a standing army during peace time.) The purpose of the Mutiny Act of 1765 was to boost discipline among British troops posted all over the empire. There was one particularly controversial tenet of the Mutiny Act, however, which was that it allowed for troops to be quartered in private houses.
You can imagine how well that went over in America. At first, the clever colonists thought they had found a loophole — the Mutiny Act didn’t specifically apply to British colonies overseas. “Ha ha ha!” they thought, “You can’t make us house your soldiers in our homes!”
Well, as it turned out, Parliament had the last laugh, at least for a short time. Almost immediately after the Mutiny Act of 1765 was passed, they whipped up some supplementary legislation known as the Quartering Act that eliminated that whole thing about requiring right off the bat that private homes serve as make-shift barracks, but instead, they required…
“constables, tithingmen, magistrates, and other civil officers of villages, towns, townships, cities, districts, and other places, within his Majesty’s dominions in America, and in their default or absence, for any one justice of the peace inhabiting in or near any such village, township, city, district or place, and for no others; and such constables … and other civil officers as aforesaid, are hereby required to billet and quarter the officers and soldiers, in his Majesty’s service, in the barracks provided by the colonies; and if there shall not be sufficient room in the said barracks for the officers and soldiers, then and in such case only, to quarter and billet the residue of such officers and soldiers for whom there shall not be room in such barracks, in inns, livery stables, ale houses, victualling houses, and the houses of sellers of wine by retail to be drank in their own houses or places thereunto belonging, and all houses of persons selling of rum, brandy, strong water, cyder or metheglin, by retail, to be drank in houses; and in case there shall not be sufficient room for the officers and soldiers in such barracks, inns, victualling and other publick ale houses, that in such and no other case, and upon no other account, it shall and may be lawful for the governor and council of each respective province in his Majesty’s dominions in America, to authorize and appoint, and they are hereby directed and impowered to authorize and appoint, such proper person or persons as they shall think fit, to take, hire and make fit, and, in default of the said governor and council appointing and authorizing such person or persons, or in default of such person or persons so appointed neglecting or refusing to do their duty, in that case it shall and may be lawful for any two or more of his Majesty’s justices of the peace in or near the said villages, towns, townships, cities, districts, and other places, and they are hereby required to take, hire and make fit for the reception of his Majesty’s forces, such and so many uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings, as shall be necessary, to quarter therein the residue of such officers and soldiers for whom there should not be room in such barracks and publick houses as aforesaid….”
All of that is just a really long way of saying, “American colonists, you are now responsible for ensuring fitting and proper barracks for His Majesty’s soldiers, and if you don’t have enough, it will be up to you to house them in taverns, inns, ale houses, etc., and feed and water them as needed, and provide for their maintenance, and if those places are too full, it’s still going to come down to you providing them with adequate quarters one way or another.”
It meant the financial responsibility was going to fall on the shoulders of the colonists, and that goes back to that whole “No taxation without representation” thing.”