The Boston Massacre of 1770
A picture of what occured at the Boston Massacre.


The Boston Massacre was provoked by the fact the Britain saw itself as the mother country and the 13 colonies as her children. Britain used the colonies to make money off of the crops they grew, and they use the colonies as a place of trade. With the increased usage of the colonies, regulations increased on the colonists. The colonists felt restricted in many ways which they hadn’t felt before. They, the colonists, went from being ignored to being controlled. It was like having Britain, the mother, give the colonies, the children, some freedom but as soon as they grew up into a teenager Britain, the mother, reigned in the freedom and input restrictions. Britain came up with a lot of new taxes and restrictions on trade and many other things that the colonists felt that they had no right to do.

2. Introduction

The Boston Massacre was on March 5, 1770. It was an event that occurred between the British soldiers and the angered colonists. The colonists had been waiting to provoke the soldiers. They waited with clubs and other weapons, outside the barracks of the soldiers. When the soldiers came out the colonists started taunting the soldiers. Not only was this happening, there were groups of colonists went to one of the British quartering houses, Murray's, specifically to get a reaction from the soldiers. Eventually the soldiers got to the point where they had to be locked in their quarters for their own safety because the commanders felt the colonists were too dangerous. With no response from theses soldiers the colonists decided to travel to the main British guardhouse to gather a response out of these soldiers. This is the where the start of the massacre begins.
Landing of the british Troops.

3. Causes

Before the massacre occurred there were plenty of reasons for the colonists to get angered. For some time now they felt that Britain had been ignoring them. With no help from the mother country the colonists learned to survive on their own. They started with their own government, the House of Burgesses(1.) This was the first legislative government that the colonists made. They started this because Jamestown wasn't as successful as they had hoped. In order to get more people to the Americas the Virginia Company started de-monopolizing the area and giving ownership to the colonists and adopted some of the English laws. Though The House didn't succeed very well as it was intended it was the first step that the colonists took towards independence.

The firsts of many acts was the Navigation act of 1763. This act stated that the colonies couldn’t import or export goods unless they were in British or colonial ships. Also countries trying to trade with the Americans had to first bring the products to England to pay duties on them then the goods could be transported to the Americas. The reason the colonists were so angered by this was because for years the colonists had the mentality that they were independent from Britain and then suddenly Parliament wants to put laws on them and then enforce the laws by sending British soldiers and tax collectors and such, but this was only the beginning. The Sugar Act of 1764 was the first law passed by the Parliament, which raised taxes revenues in the colonies for the king. This act placed a duty of three pence a gallon on imported molasses. Other imported goods that were taxed, and foreign rum and French wines were banned entirely as imports. Next was the Stamp Act of 1765. This was an act that imposed taxes on every piece of printed paper in the 13 colonies. Each piece of printed paper had to have a stamp that the colonists had to pay for which showed that they were official pieces of paper. The money acquired from this tax would go towards paying the troops wages. The colonists boycotted the British with the phrase, “No taxation without representation.” They felt that Parliament had no right to tax them and they opposed paying taxes because of the fact that they had no representatives in Parliament. As a result to this the colonists stop buying printed papers with stamps on them and refused to buy anything that came to North America from Britain. The colonists also burned the papers that carried the British seal. This was the first time that the colonists met as on group to protest against British law. Due to all the ruckus caused by the stamp act, it was later repealed in March 1766, but was followed up by the Townshend act of 1767.

The Townshend Act was created to solve the problem of supporting the British troop’s wages. Charley Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, persuaded Parliament to pass this act to get more money from the colonists in order to pay the troops. This act included many parts. First of all, taxes were put on the imports of lead, paper, glass, and tea. The navigation and trade acts were to be more strictly enforced. This would allow the customs officers to go into buildings and find smuggled goods. Also this act stated that money raised from this would go to paying for defense in America, for court officers, and royal governors. The colonist had difficulty with this act because they weren’t used to being taxed without representation. They also didn’t like the fact that these taxes were to help pay the salaries of the royal governors and judges of America.

Lastly was the suspending of the Legislature of New York in 1767 due to the failure to comply with the Quartering Act, an act, passed in 1765, which stated the colonist must provide food and shelter the British troops. The Bostonians didn't want to quarter the troops, however, the soldiers were coming into the town anyway. Due to the fact that none of the colonists wanted to house the soldiers and the soldiers had no place to go the Massachusetts Governor quartered the soldiers, putting them in empty warehouses and stores. In retaliation for the Bostonians not quartering them the soldiers practiced their drills really loud on Sunday’s while the colonists were in their church services. They also took jobs from the colonists, but that wasn't the only reason the soldiers needed jobs. The soldiers weren’t being paid much so they had to find another source of income to survive. Yet the longer the soldiers stayed in Boston the more tensions grew and due to tensions between the colonists and the soldiers the British moved some of their soldiers out of Boston, between 400 and 700 soldiers stayed. Even this small amount angered the Bostonians in some way.

5. Effect

This is all lead to the massacre of 1770. On the night of the event the Bostonians gathered in small crowds at every corner to plan each step they were going to take. They finally came together and started taunting the soldiers. The taunting became so bad that the captain had to take the soldiers in the barracks and lock them in, for their own safety of course. The Bostonians still riled up and still looking for a fight decided that they would go to the main guardhouse where they might be able to find more soldiers.

At around this time a little boy came up to the crowd and said that a soldier had hit him with the stock of his musket. The crowd decided to find the soldier and teach him a lesson. When they found a soldier, they decided it must be the soldier that had hit the little boy. They went up to the soldier and started taunting him and throwing snowballs and huge chunks of ice at him. The scared soldier loaded his gun and backed up into the customs house. At this point the crowd was really upset and angered. Soon you heard the voice of the captain, Thomas Preston (2), and six British privates and a young corporal. These soldiers surrounded the colonists in a half circle and the sentinel came to join them. The crowd turned their anger now on all of the soldiers. The already rowdy crowd was joined by a gang of sailors and rowdies led by a large mulatto man. The crow was screaming and shouting and thrashing their sticks at the soldiers. A few colonists tried to calm down the mob but it was no use. The soldiers fired and colonists died.

An Obituary of the People who died in the Boston Massacre.

6. Aftermath/ Impact on citizens and the British soldiers

The Boston massacre started as a riot and then escalated into a massacre. Eight of the soldiers had to be put on trial and were defended by the lawyers, who were John Adams and Josiah Quincy. There were different stories told in the court room. Some witnesses witnessed no weapons being used by the colonists but others said that the colonists became a mob. The soldiers said they fired only because they feared for their lives. Six of the soldiers were found not guilty and two were found guilty of killing without meaning to. Hugh Montgomery, a soldier, fired the first shot and was one of the soldiers who was accused of killing and was found guilty. Crispus Attacks (3) was one of the colonists who were killed in the massacre. Others were Samuel Gray (4), Samuel Maverick (5), and Patrick Carr (6).

Foot Notes:

1. For more information on the Virginia House Burgesses go to this site:
2. Thomas Preston: For more about him and his account of what happened go here:
3. Crispus Attackus was probably a mulatto, part Indian or part African American. He had run away from his master 20 years earlier. He was on his way to North Carolina at the time of the Massacre, and appointed himself as a leader of one of the riots at the time. For more information go here:
4.Samuel Gray was a worker at a rope walk where fighting had started on March 2. More info here:
5. Samuel maverick was a young man of 17. He was an apprentice to and Ivory cutter. E had run from home when he heard the rioting and was caught in the line of fire. He died March 6th. For more info go here:
6. Patrick carr didn’t die until March 14th. He was a leather-breeches maker. He came from Ireland, where he witnessed many riots but none like the one in Boston He said he didn’t blame the man who shot him for as he saw it the soldiers were threatened and acted in self defense. For more info go here:

Bibliography For The Boston Massacre

1. Bailey, Thomas A., David M. Kennedy, and Elizabeth Cohen. The American Pagent- A History of the Republic. 11th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print.
2.Dickinson, Alice. The Boston Massacre- March 5, 1770 A Conolial Street Fight Erupts into Violence. New York: Franklin Watts, 1968. Print.
3.Ready, Dee. The Boston Massacre. Mankato: Capstone, 2002. Print.