THE BOSTON MASSACRE: Its Cause and Impact in Society
I. The Boston Massacre
Crowds gathered. There was tension between the armed troops and the civilians. There was mocking and throwing of rocks and other elements towards the direction of the armed men. They feel provoked by the crowd and the tension rose. As members of the military, they had the responsibility to practice maximum tolerance. The tension escalated even more. A single gun shot was heard as more followed. A number of innocent people were killed; to some, they are murdered. This was a scenario that happened in 1970 in the Kent State University when a protest went violent in an encounter between the antiwar demonstrators and the National Guardsmen. Over three centuries ago, Boston witnessed the same setting that turned out to be one of the most controversial shootings in American history.
The Boston Massacre can be considered as one of the highlights of the American History. There are many speculations and documentations about the Boston Massacre. This would be further discussed in the paper.
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The Boston Massacre had happened in March 5, 1770. Based on the account of Mauricio Tellez, a number of soldiers had tried to help their comrade from the violent crowd which were throwing snowballs at the sentry. The squad released fire at the crowd, wounding three persons fatally and killing two people on the spot. Tellez had written that the first person to be killed was Crispus Attucks, an African American.
In an account of Boston Massacre in Pamphlets and Propaganda article, the Boston Massacre was started by a barber's apprentice. The apprentice has complained about the late payment of the captain's bill. A soldier had bashed his musket on the youth's head. Because of this, apprentices had rushed around the town center and had spread the attack. From then on the crowd started growing wild. Captain Thomas Preston had arrived with seven of his grenadiers and started dispersing the crowd. According to the article, it was stated that a private had shouted the fire signal that had triggered the others to fire their ammunition to the crowd.
The Constitutional Foundation had featured the Boston Massacre in their article. In the article, the mob that had shown during the Massacre was around 300 to 400 people. Crispus Attucks, the first person who died in the battle was reported as the one saying “Kill them! Kill them! Knock them over!" It further noted, that Captain Preston was the one who instigated the soldiers to stop firing. After the incident, Governor Thomas Hutchinson made an agreement with the British army commander to remove the soldiers. Captain Preston and eight of the british soldiers were subjected for trial. The prosecuting attorney was Samuel Quincy and Patriot Robert Treat Paine. The Defense attorney was John Adams, Robert Auchmuty and Josiah Quincy. Preston's trial issue was if the Captain has given the order to its subordinates to fire their ammunitions to the crowd. The outcome was not guilty. However, from the soldier's trial for the innocence of murder, two privates were judged as guilty for firing their musket with malice. These are Private Montgomery and Private Killroy. Private Montgomery admitted to the fact that he was the one who shouted “Fire” that had triggered the band of soldiers to start firing at the crowd.
II. Cause of Boston Massacre
According to the Constitutional Rights Foundation article, customs collectors, conducted searches using writs of assistance. In the year 1768, the John Hancock's ship was searched, wine was seized and charges of smuggling were given. A crowd had attacked and this had caused the British Government to bring 700 British regulars marched towards Boston. British taxes had been shouldered by the citizen. This had further enraged the citizens of Boston to rebel against the British. The Sons of Liberty had been formed which had been led by Sam Adams, the cousin of John Adams, which had been formed to end the military occupation of the British
Based on the references gathered, it can be seen that the cause of the outrage from the crowd is the fact that the people in Boston do not like the British Rule. As discussed in a powerpoint presentation by Longhearst, it had been explained that Boston was full of tension. Both of the sides gather insults, the British called the colonists, “Yankees” which is considered as an insult. On the other hand, the colonies called the British soldiers “Lobster” because of their red uniforms. The article of Pamphlets and Propaganda had shown that there had been seventeen months of friction between the British troops. From the Mass Moments article, since the Bostonians had been used to self-government, it had been hard for them to recognize the British Rule. Townspeople were forced to provide lodging for Boston Soldiers who had a reputation of being an immoral.
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Through the insults and frustration of the Bostonians, their anger had accumulated and this had become a hatred that had led to violence. The Boston Massacre is an event that had been caused by the hatred of the Bostonians to the British.
III. Impact of Boston Massacre in Society
The Boston Massacre had inspired artists such as Paul Revere and and John Pufford. Mauricio Tellez had written in his article that Paul Revere had used his art to prove that the British are a bunch of people who are slayers and oppressors. The drawing is considered as a memento, that the freedom of America came by the price of blood and sweat of Bostonians. It had been further used to further anger the British and give awareness to the colonists about the nature of the oppressors.
John Pufford's work can be described as a proof of the Massacre in King Street. Unlike Paul Revere's, John Pufford had shown a bias of the British against black men. Based on the documentation, Crispus Attucks was the first person to fall in the attack. It had been speculated upon that the death of Crispus Attucks was caused because he is black. The meaning of the art further boils down to the fact that Crispus Attucks had been the first one to die because he is black.
Pamphlets and Propaganda article had shown that the event had also become a money-making profit for published newspapers. The report from Boston which they had given a title of “A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre”, had sent copies to London and American Colonies. Although the copies were not for sale, when a reprint had arrived from London, the copies were sold as imported papers. London had blamed the Boston crowd for the violence. In the same day of the massacre, the Parliament had revoked all duties and taxes except the Tea Tax. When the Americans have heard about the incident, they had boycotted the British. Topped by the massacre and the revoking of duties and taxes, this had led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The Sons of Liberty had commissioned an annual public statement for the victims of the massacre from the year 1771 to 1782. After the event, the Sons of Liberty had made moves in prosecution and the organization had made sure that there is a fair trial against the British. This had shown that the justice system during that time is not biased against the colonists.
As stated in the same article, nowadays, American considers the Boston Massacre as a political violence. There are two sides on the incident. Some thought that the soldiers are the victims and others thought of it as the men who were killed for Independence. Boston Massacre had been an event that had caused the American Revolution.
As a conclusion, the Boston Massacre is an event that had took place after the American Revolution. This event had been caused by the frustration and anger of the Americans against the British. It had been used as a tool by the colonists to further raise the hatred of the colonists against the British which had led to the American Revolution. As can be seen from the discussion above, there are many reasons as to why the soldiers and mob had acted that way. Some of the soldiers may have acted because of their personal vendetta against the insults that they had received ever since they had arrived in Boston. The crowd may have been infuriated by the soldiers because the soldiers think of them as vile creatures and people not worthy of respect. Crispus Attucks can be considered as a hero by the other Americans and some may have thought that it was right for the soldiers to shot the fellow because he was the one who started attacking. This had caused dilemma against what society thought of the incident. The list could go on and on. The event is a proof of acts of violence because of independence and frustration of two races against each other.
Tellez, Mauricio. “The Boston Massacre” Web pages: African- American History Through the Arts http://cghs.dadeschools.net/african-american/precivil/boston.htm (Accessed September 13, 2007)
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Liberty Public School District. “Boston Massacre”. Web Pages: Microsoft Powerpoint - 1.2 Boston Massacr: 1.2.pdf. http://www.liberty.k12.mo.us/~elanghorst/notes/1.2.pdf. (Accessed September 13, 2007)
W.M. Keck Foundation. “John Adams and The Boston Massacre Trials”. Web Pages: Bills of Right in Action http://www.crf-usa.org/bria/bria16_1.html. (Accessed September 13, 2007)
Massachussetts Foundation for the Humanities. “Five Die in Boston Massacre” Web Pages: Mass Moments. http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=71. (Accessed September 13, 2007)
Zobel, Hiller B. The Boston Massacre. New York: Norton, 1970.
 Carol Sue Humphrey, “The Case of the Boston Massacre (1770) "A . . . melancholy Demonstration.” In The Press on Trial: Crimes and Trials as Media Events, ed. Chiasson, Lloyd Westport, 15-22. CT:Greenwood Press, 1997, 15.