5 Things You Didn't Know About The Boston Massacre

On the cold, snowy night of March 5, 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred when British soldiers in Boston opened fire on a group of American colonists.  Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about the Boston Massacre...


Tempers Rose Among the Colonists Because of One British Officer # This lithograph depicts the murder of Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre. Attucks became a symbol for abolitionists. Image credit: WikiCommons The streets had been crowded that day. The colonists hurled insults at the British soldiers, but things did not get serious until a barber’s apprentice taunted a British captain for not paying the bill for having his hair dressed. A sentinel followed after the boy and responded by striking him with the butt of his musket, and the boy left crying and told others what had happened. Later, an angry group found the man who had struck the boy, and the British soldiers began pushing back the crowd with bayonets and loaded and primed their weapons.

The Altercation Began as a Snowball Fight # A monument to The Boston Massacre is on Boston Commons and was erected in 1888. The sculptor was Adolph Robert Kraus. Image credit: WikiCommons Crowds of colonists began gathering and hurling taunts at the British soldiers who were guarding the Boston Customs House in protest of the British occupation of the city. The commanding officer, Captain Thomas Preston, ordered his men to fix bayonets to support the guard stationed outside. The colonists began hurling snowballs, stones, and sticks at the British soldiers, who then began poking the colonists with their bayonets. One British private, Hugh Montgomery, was struck and he fired into the crowd with other soldiers joining in.


It Wasn’t Always Called the Boston Massacre The first popular name for the incident was “The Bloody Massacre,” which was the title of an engraving by Paul Revere. During the early 1800s, it was referred to as the State Street Massacre. It wasn’t until many years later that it became known as the Boston Massacre.

Many Consider the Colonists’ Deaths as the First of the American Revolution The five colonists who were killed that day were Crispus Attucks, a black and Native American stevedore; Patrick Carr, a 30-year-old man in the leather business; Samuel Gray, a rope maker; and Samuel Maverick and James Caldwell who were both 17-years-old. Some historians regard the deaths of these men as the first of the American Revolutionary War fatalities.

John Adams Defended the Accused British Soldiers John Adams, the future second president of the United States and one of its founding fathers, along with Josiah Quincy, a brother of the prosecutor, defended the eight British soldiers accused of murder. The soldiers were tried separately. In the first trial, the soldier was not only acquitted, but it was the first time that a judge had used the term “reasonable doubt.” Six out of the eight soldiers were acquitted of the charge, and the other two were found guilty of manslaughter and their thumbs were branded with an “M” for murder.

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