Boston Massacre: Unveiling Historical Threads in the Birth of a Nation - Paper Sample

Published: 2024-01-23
Boston Massacre: Unveiling Historical Threads in the Birth of a Nation - Paper Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Law Society
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1960 words
17 min read

The Boston Massacre occurred on the night of March 5, 1770, five years before the American Revolution would begin. In 1767, the British Parliament enacted the Townshend Acts, a series of strict provisions in the colonies to collect income duties, resulting from the British treasury being drained due to the French and Indian War. Those duties were met with angry opposition from many Massachusetts colonists since they increased their financial burden. The colonial response took the form of harassment against British officials and vandalism, leading to the events that transpired on the night of the Boston Massacre. This essay will analyze the primary data provided by the witnesses who were present on the night of the Boston Massacre, as stated in the scholars' secondary sources. The evidence analyzed will justify the British troops' actions, which led to five youth's death, their arrest, and their release after trial. It is necessary to analyze what occurred on the night of the Boston Massacre as this event will assist in creating a new nation where the court's law is respected and followed.

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Parliament reacted to the British colonial authorities' request for protection from the rising colonist riots and threats by dispatching the 14th and 29th regiments of the British army to Boston. However, those soldiers' presence increased the tension in an already anxious environment, and the colonists were rioting for the increased taxes on the farmers. British officials ordered the removal of all occupants of the Boston Manufactory House in March 1770, a halfway house for poor people, sick people, and homeless people. A regiment of British soldiers could be kept there. The homeless occupants of the Manufactory House put up resistance, and the British backed down.

Two events in the 1770s in Boston led to violence against British troops patrolling it. The Sons of Liberty, who had successfully boycotted the businesses, started to attack those who had ignored the boycott. Ebenezer Richardson, an informer for Sons of Liberty, was trying to take down a sign from his radical neighbor's shop when he was attacked by a group of boys who chased him back to his neighborhood. Richardson armed himself and fired his muskets at the boys, killing 11-year-old Christopher Seider. Tension ran high after the funeral of Seider. On March 4th and 5th, 1770, brawls broke between troops and rope makers on the South End of Boston. The conflict resulted in the death of the sergeant. British soldiers searched for John Gray, a rope maker who was suspected of killing the suspect. The 14th Regiment was ordered to restrain those in their charge, but the rumors of an imminent encounter flew. The British owners, who sided with the soldiers, were attacked and vandalized through boycotting all British goods.

The above-discussed accounts led to the raising of tension in Boston; the government officials had to find a quick solution to the problem. The people proposed that soldiers were supposed to be ordered back to the barracks, and the decision was made. The Lieutenant Governor in the council requested immediate removal of the troops from the Boston city. The soldiers were removed, which led to peace in Boston City.

On March 5, 1770, Bostonians rioted over the fear that the soldiers would cut down the liberty tree, used as remembrance of the men who had favored the Stamp Act. The troops were taunted by the crowd and dared to shoot them, but the crowd was repulsed. The barracks of the 29th Regiment repulsed one element of the crowd which had to attack them. The rioters pelted the barracks with the snowball and tried to storm the Customs House one of the soldiers, then trapped by the patriotic mob near the Customs House, was jostled in confusion and fearfully discharged his musket. Another soldier followed suit, thinking they had heard the command to fire. Three members of the crowd, including a black sailor, were shot and nearly immediately died. Preston and his contingent were ordered back to barracks by Gov. Thomas Hutchinson, who had been summoned to the scene. He pledged that justice would be done to the crowd, calming the growing mob. Within hours, there was an order to arrest Preston and his fellow soldiers. Sons of Liberty leaders such as John Hancock and Samuel Adams incited colonists to keep fighting the British. Paul Revere etched a now-famous engraving depicting British soldiers callously murdering American colonists. It showed the British as instigators though the colonists had started the fight. The Boston shooting shook up Boston's city and, ultimately, the American colonists' entire expanse.

Preston and the seven soldiers he led were under arrest the next morning, as was the sentry they had sought to rescue. A city meeting generated a demand for all the troops to be removed. Both the 14th and 29th regiments were relocated to Castle William (now Castle Island) in Boston Harbor by March 11 from the barracks. Customs commissioners, fearing for their safety, also left the town. Different developments delayed the trial of the soldiers, who were not prosecuted until September. In the 1770s, Boston citizens met at Faneuil Hall to discuss the "horrid Massacre in Boston by the Soldiery" A letter was drawn up by members of a council formed at the parley. However, the writers of the letter do not specify who the 'aggressors' are.

The letter was sent in March 1770 to a patriotic member of the House of Commons in Ireland" The history of the massacre is laid out in the letter titled "Representation of the late horrid Massacre.’. After the evidence was brought before the court of law, it was evaluated, and the decision was made on the following basis; first, the mob was even though was not armed with machine guns they were armed with snowballs and sticks, which they threw at the soldiers. Secondly, the soldiers acted in their self-defense. The following judgment was made, Captain Preston and four of his men were cleared of all charges. The two others were convicted of manslaughter, but they were sentenced to mere thumb branding. Sam Adam had agreed to defend the soldiers in the court to demonstrate the importance of court law over mob rule. Adams also wanted to show the British government that the law of the court was respected and followed. To the credit of Adams and the jury, the British soldiers received a fair trial despite the abuse felt towards them. In response to Adams's actions, the British government back in London decided to concede to taxation. All Townshend duties were abolished except one, the tea tax. Even though.

To analyze the historical narrative, historians can focus on what happened before, during, and after events. The modern historians use the work of those who witnessed the event. For example, in the Boston massacre after the event, different activities took place. The different conflicting approaches took place. For instance, Captain Preston, the British troops' participant, and leader, wrote a letter to his superiors explaining the event. The local newsletters were published and distributed to all colonies. Paul Revere crafted a British armed officer firing at unarmed civilians. Sam Adam ignored the Boston massacre and went to court to defend the soldiers even though five people had died. The newspapers used the Revere art in all colonies to sympathize with the colonists and anger toward the British guards. Unlike the other riots, the colonial government responded and took control by taking the soldiers to court for trial. The trial process also provides further information to the historian. Thus, in trying to discuss what happened, the historian has a lot of sources to evaluate. To justify the actions of the soldiers, the letter from Captain Preston to the superiors will be used as evidence;

“On which some well-behaved persons asked me if the guns were charged. I replied, yes. They then asked me if I intended to order the men to fire. I answered no, by no means, observing to them that I was advanced before the muzzles of the men's pieces, and must fall a sacrifice if they fired; While I was thus speaking, one of the soldiers had received a severe blow with a stick, stepped a little on one side and instantly fired, on which turning to and asking him why he fired eight without orders, … general attack was made on the men by a significant number of heavy clubs and snowballs being thrown at them, by which all our lives were in imminent danger, some persons at the same time from behind calling out, damn your bloods-why don't you fire. Instantly three nine or four of the soldiers fired, one after another, and directly after three more in the same confusion and hurry.”

The soldiers' actions were justifiable in the riots. The soldiers even though were not supposed to shoot the mob in the events where they were threatened they were allowed to open the fire for self-defense. Even though some people will argue that the soldiers acted out of proportion it is justifiable that the crowd was armed with sticks and snowballs which they used to attack the soldiers. The threat posed by the mob raised tension which frightened the soldiers making them open the fire. Second, it was identified that the command to fire might not even have come from the commander but from either one of the soldiers or the mob members who were seeking to instigate a fight with the soldiers. Amidst the confusion during the riot, instructions can be compromised especially if they were spoken instructions. One's voice could be confused with another and therefore, the orders to fire toward the Bostonians might have been a wrong call or other individuals might have shouted fire out of fear. Nevertheless, much of the actions of the soldiers as indicated above in the document can show that the attacks were provocations but not the soldiers' stories of wanting to start a fight.

Past events are the foundation of history, but not all past events are recorded in account books. Then the question is what counts as history, and what is regarded as not? The answer to this question is that the critical events which happened in the past are viewed as history. The past man's struggles and the personal limitations that lead to a loss or win are the foundation of history. History does not record only the happy moments but also includes the painful moments of humanity. The present historians have noticed that some critical past events are not supposed to be forgotten, but they pose a risk of not being forgotten. These events are mostly connected to feminism movements, revolutionary freedom groups, labor union organizations, and Wars that emerge from injustices. Herodotus and Thucydides' definition suggests that only events that involve man's struggle, accuracy, and conflicts are regarded as history, and there are other struggles they decide not to disclose; thus, the historical narratives are selected events, social systems, and historical actors. Thus, the Boston massacre has qualified to be a historical narrative. It discusses the difficulties Americans went through looking for freedom and the importance of court law in a country.


In conclusion, history is telling past events and educating the people about past events that are not meant to be forgotten. History is a way of keeping the memory. History is used to shape a community's culture, and it can be used to tell the different ways to solve the problems in society. Some cultures, such as mob justice, can be discouraged by narrating past events and their effects on society. Historians should first analyze the event and compare it with the current situation before writing a historical narrative. He or she should look at his audience and determine the most appropriate topic they will be interested in.

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