What Was the Boston Massacre?


Quick Answer

The Boston Massacre was the killing of five colonial citizens by British troops on March 5, 1770. A mob was protesting new Parliamentary regulations, and several members began throwing sticks and rocks at the British soldiers attempting to restore order. Acting without orders, several of the soldiers fired into the crowd, killing three and wounding eight. Two later died of their injuries, bringing the death toll to five.

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What Was the Boston Massacre?
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Full Answer

In the aftermath of the shooting, eight soldiers, one officer and four civilians were tried. The officer was acquitted after evidence was presented that he had not ordered his men to fire. Future president John Adams defended the soldiers at trial and earned six of them acquittals. The remaining two were convicted of manslaughter and branded as punishment for their crimes. The four citizens who were charged in the incident were acquitted.

The Boston Massacre was an incident that helped inflame the independence movement in the 13 colonies. The story of what happened, bolstered by engravings created by Paul Revere, spread quickly and inflamed sentiment against the British. Samuel Adams and other figures of the patriot movement commemorated the event as Massacre Day, and a young boy injured in the attack was a regular fixture at these events to display his wounds as a reminder of the event.

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