Boston Massacre


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Boston Massacre

Picture of the Boston Massacre Engraved by Paul Revere

On March 5, 1770, what is known in American history as the " Boston Massacre" occurred. The British commissioners of customs had arrived in May, 1768, and entered on the discharge of their duty with so much diligence that after the seizure of the trading-sloop Liberty they were compelled by the excited populace to flee for safety first to the warship Romney and afterward to Castle William in the harbor. The presence of British troops in the city was a constant source of irritation, and but a small spark was needed to set a large flame. The spark was furnished by a quarrel between a rope-maker and a soldier in which the latter was struck. A fight between several soldiers and rope-makers ensued. A few evenings afterward about 700 citizens assembled to attack the soldiers. An assault was made near the custom-house, the soldiers began firing, and three citizens were killed and five dangerously wounded, Crispus Attucks, a mulatto, and leader of the assailants, being among the slain. Within a few minutes several thousand excited citizens were in the streets, but Governor Hutchinson succeeded in inducing them to refrain from violence. The people then demanded the instant removal of the troops and the trial of Captain Preston and his men for murder. On March 12 the troops were removed to Castle William. Captain Preston and six of his men were tried and acquitted, their defense being undertaken by John Adams and Josiah Quincy. This was one of several areas of tension in Boston prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Another was the Boston Tea Party in 1873.



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