Thursday, March 5, 2015

Today in American History: The Boston Massacre - 03/05/1770

Today in American History on March 5th, 1770, The Boston Massacre took place.
Paul Revere's Etching of The Boston Massacre
The Boston Massacre, also known as The Incident on King Street by the British, took place when an angry mob of colonial protestors was fired upon by British troops without violent provocation or orders from their superiors to do so -- killing five and wounding six others.  The incident was preceded by orders from Kind George to station troops in Boston to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation that followed the Boston Tea Party.  Amid heightened tensions, a young boy named Edward Garrick began harassing a soldier over an unpaid bill.  The bill, however, had been paid on time and a British sentry, Hugh White, told the boy to be more respectful of his elders.  Garrick responded with insults to Private White, who struck the boy.  White was then surrounded by a few people who began harassing him about his interaction with Garrick.  

Quickly, the "few" grew into an angry mob hurling insults and general verbal abuse at the soldier.  As the crowd grew, the British began to show up in force and attempt to disperse the crowd without force, eventually growing to a total of nine armed British soldiers.  The angry mob added throwing things at the British soldiers, and ringing the bell of the church -- which signified a fire -- in order to attract more attention to the altercation.  Before they knew it, over fifty people were gathered led by a runaway slave named Crispus Attucks, who not only threw things at the soldiers but was taunting them to fire at the crowd.  As the crowd continued to grow, an object struck Private Montgomery tossing him to the ground.  As he recovered his weapon, he fired into the crowd.  The details of the next few moments are hazy and not certain.  Some said that Montgomery himself yelled, "Fire, damn you!" as the other soldiers discharged their weapons into the crowd.  But everyone agrees that the British Captain Preston never gave the order for his soldiers to fire their weapons.  When the firing had stopped, three Bostonians lay dead with a number of others injured.  Two others would die shortly thereafter.  The dead included Crispus Attucks, James Caldwell and Samuel Grey.  Patrick Carr would die two weeks later, and Christopher Monk was severely injured  in the attack, would die in 1780 reportedly from injuries suffered in the massacre.  The crowd eventually dispersed after the Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson promised an inquiry and action on the matter.

Site of the Boston Massacre on modern day State Street in Boston
The next day, Hutchinson redacted his statement and sent the soldiers out of Boston to Castle Island.  In the end, eight soldiers, one officer and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder.  The accused were defending by the future President John Adams and he managed to get six of them acquitted, while only two were found guilty of manslaughter and received severely reduced sentences.  Their sentences were to have their hands branded.

The event was used by both loyalists and radicals in support of their own cause.  Both publishing pamphlets that told strikingly different stories.  The Boston Gazette published a story that characterized the event as another in a series of actions that were meant to "quell a spirit of liberty", tying it to the quartering of troops in the city -- while the loyalists published a story in London to try and gather support for the Governor. 

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also a lifelong baseball fan who has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

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