The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770. A squad of British soldiers, come to support a sentry who was being pressed by a heckling, snowballing crowd, let loose a volley of shots. Three persons were killed immediately and two died later of their wounds; among the victims was Crispus Attucks, a man of black or Indian parentage. The British officer in charge, Capt. Thomas Preston, was arrested for manslaughter, along with eight of his men.
More to Explore
This Day in History
On this day in 1776, American General Charles Lee leaves his army, riding in search of female sociability at Widow White's Tavern in Basking Ridge, New…
During the American Revolution, Great Britain's 13 American colonies rose up in insurrection and won their independence.
Paul Revere was a Boston silversmith, industrialist, and American Revolutionary figure.
John Adams (1735-1826) was a leader of the American Revolution and served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801.
In 1773, a group of Massachusetts patriots, protesting the monopoly on tea importation, seized 342 chests of tea and threw them into Boston harbor.
Did You Know?
The Boston Massacre is reenacted every year on March 5th, on the actual site in front of the Old State House.
The British troops had been billeted in Boston in October 1768 after repeated requests from British customs officials, who had been harassed and intimidated because of their efforts to enforce the Townshend Acts. Numerous clashes between the soldiers and the citizenry resulted. The killings of March 5, promptly termed a "massacre" by Patriot leaders and commemorated in a widely circulated engraving by Paul Revere, aroused intense public protests and threats of violent retaliation. This pressure caused Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson to withdraw the troops to an island in the harbor.
In an effort to demonstrate the impartiality of colonial courts, two Patriot leaders, John Adams and Josiah Quincy, volunteered to defend Captain Preston and his men. The prosecution produced little evidence, and Preston and six of the soldiers were acquitted; two others were found guilty of manslaughter, branded on the hand, and released. Although many Patriots criticized the verdicts and the anniversary of the Boston Massacre became a patriotic holiday, the removal of troops from Boston and the repeal of all but one of the contested import duties resulted in a lowering of tension in the years following the incident. Nevertheless, Governor Hutchinson's reluctant removal of troops from Boston under threat of insurrection dramatized the impotence of imperial power as it was then constituted when faced with organized local resistance.
The Reader's Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!
Keep up with the latest History shows, online features, special offers and more.Sign up