The Boston Massacre


Almost 250 years ago something happened that would change America forever.  At the very dawn of this new nation called America, 5 civilians were killed in a bloody stand-off between British soldiers and angry rioters.  The Boston Massacre is the name for a tragic event that took place on March 5, 1770 which saw 5 people killed.

For quite some time the threat of military action from French troops was all too real.  Once this threat passed, the British government felt it necessary to impose new taxes on the people that would help establish strong British colonies within the United States.  The new taxes were part of the Townshend Act, which was not viewed favorably by common civilians during this time.   While one can argue that these new taxes were a suitable way to raise capital to fund the British Colonies,  not everyone within the colonies were satisfied with the new taxes.  The anger over the taxes hit the boiling point and thus riots ensued.

With an already heavy presence of British troops in the Boston area due to tensions between the Colonies and the British government, this made for a disastrous outcome for 5 civilian rioters.  At that time General Thomas Gage gave orders that more troops be sent to Boston to help in the efforts to control the riots which had been going on for quite some time.

After what might appear to be a misunderstanding regarding a customs bill between apprentice Edward Gerrish and a British officer, a disagreement began.  With the disagreement not settled, Gerrish returned with a group of men and started to taunt the British officer.  As the disagreement escalated into a fight, a crowd of onlookers gathered in support of Gerrish.  At one point the crowd grew to approximately 300-400 people and got out of hand very quickly.  The troops at this point were surrounded by the angry crowd of rioters and they began to fire their muskets into the crowd.

With shots fired, a total of 11 men were hit.  Three Americans dropped and died instantly from their gunshot wounds.  The 3 that died immediately were a ropemaker named Samuel Gray, mariner James Caldwell and sailor Crispus Attucks while two other men died later on.  Young seventeen year old Samuel Maverick died a few hours later while Patrick Carr died two weeks after the event.

After seeing the devastation that this event had caused, British troops were removed from the area and those that fired the shots were indicted for murder and some were found guilty.  Of the 8 soldiers that had been charged in connection with the Boston Massacre shootings, 6 were acquitted and 2 found guilty.

Events such as the Boston Tea Party followed and were evidence that the relationship between the American colonies and the British were deteriorating. The Boston Massacre is the one event that paved the way for the American Revolutionary War in which the colonies revolted to assert their independence from a power-hungry British empire.

Although a very tragic event, the Boston Massacre is just one event in a line of many that helped to shape the United States of America into the strong, independent and free nation that is enjoyed by so many today.