Massachusetts · Massacres/Mass Murder · Political

The Boston Massacre

March 5, 1770
Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston Massacre claims the lives of 5 and injures 6

Tension was high between the British troops and the colonists already, and further intensified when a wigmaker’s apprentice insulted a British officer, claiming the officer owed the master wigmaker money. The officer, who had paid his account, ignored the insults but the apprentice continued his taunts until a British private struck the boy with his musket. The boy cried in pain, bringing a crowd.

The crowd grew as the hours went on, increasing the tension, and the colonists further taunted the soldiers by encouraging them to fire upon them, throwing snowballs and, spitting at them. Finally, after a brief pause, the soldiers fired into the crowd. The shots left 5 dead and 6 injured.

Several people from both sides were arrested for murders: 8 soldiers, 1 officer, and 4 colonists. The officer was acquitted when the jury decided he had not ordered the soldiers to fire into the crowd. Six of the 8 soldiers were acquitted when they were found to have not fired directly into the crowd, only firing in an attempt to scare the townspeople off in self-defense (all 8 soldiers were defended in court by John Adams, the future second president of the United States). The two not acquitted were charged with manslaughter and received a branding as their punishment. The four civilians were also acquitted of their crimes.

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