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  • Writer's pictureJeff Epps

Boston Massacre Site

The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5th, 1770, and was a result of the growing tensions between the American Colonies and the British Crown, notably with the passage of the Townshend Acts of 1768.

There was a confrontation between colonists in Boston and the British troops that were garrisoned there, as a result of the growing tensions due to passage of new laws imposed by King George III. 2,000 British troops occupied Boston in 1770.

The Townshend Acts required American colonists to pay new tariffs on good being imported from Britain, which helped to fuel the unpopular concept of "taxation without representation."

On the evening of March 5th, 1770, Private Hugh White was on guard duty outside the Boston Custom House (now the Old State House). The dispute began when a 13-year-old boy named, Edward Garrick, who was an apprentice of a local whigmaker, called out Captain-Lieutenant John Goldfinch and accused him of not paying his debt to his master. Goldfinch had settled his debt the day before and ignored the boy. Private White hollered at the boy and told him to be more respectful. While Garrick exchanged insults with White and began poking Goldfinch with his finger, White became confrontational with the boy and struck him in the head with his musket. This drew Garrick's companion, Bartholomew Broaders, among others to the scene. The crowd also included 19-year-old Henry Knox, a local bookseller and later a Continental Army general and close compatriot to George Washington.

As about 200 to 300 angry people gathered around Private White while he was on the stairs of the Custom House, Captain Thomas Preston showed up, after being alerted, with one non-commission officer and six privates. Captain Preston never ordered a single shot to be fired. As the British soldiers were in a semi-circle formation around Private White, Private Montgomery had been struck in the head with an object from the unruly crowd. When Montgomery got back to his feet, he yelled, "Damn you, fire!!" Private Montgomery fired the first shot and then other shots by other soldiers were fired within minutes afterward.

In the end, five colonists had died...

Future U.S. President John Adams defended the British soldiers and 6 of them were acquitted, while the other two dodged the death penalty and was set free with nothing more than a brand on their thumbs. Captain Preston was also acquitted, as eyewitness testimonies set him free.

This event is widely seen as the springboard to the American Revolution, as it gave notoriety to patriots such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams.

The painting that we see often, of Captain Preston giving the order for his men to fire is inaccurate, as Preston never gave an order to fire. However, this engravement by Paul Revere was spread throughout the Colonies in printed newspapers and helped to fuel the Revolutionary spirit. This is proof that propaganda is a powerful tool, even back then, and can lead to serious consequences if created and promoted the right way. #OutcastVagabond #RoadTrippinUSA#BostonMassachusetts


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