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Canada, since its acquisition in 1763, had been provisionally in the hands of a military governor. The Quebec Act gave the province a permanent government with no representative assembly, established French civil law, and offered special protection to the Catholic Church.

Although Canada as a French colony had never had a representative assembly, Americans thought it onimous that Parliament had failed to establish one now that it was an English colony. It disturbed them even more that the act ignored colonial territorial claims by annexing the whole region west of the Appalachians and north of the Ohio to the province of Quebec Now when settlers moved west from the states, they would have to live under Canada's autocratic government.

This act had been drafted only after lengthy discussions with officials who had been in Canada, but it nonetheless surprised and shocked many North American citizens.

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