The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street happened on this day 245 years ago. The event, known now as the Boston Massacre, is remembered as the event that sparked the Revolutionary War. However, the colonies had been simmering since 1767 when the British Parliament passed the Townshend Acts which imposed additional taxes on products imported into the colonies- products like glass, paper and tea. In one famous incident known as the Boston Tea Party, colonists dumped a boat load of tea into Boston Harbor. In October 1768 British troops began arriving in the colonies to maintain order and guard the customs houses where duties on products were collected. Patriot Sam Adams called upon dock workers and mariners at the Port of Boston to demonstrate against the British troops. On the evening of March 5th at the customs house on King Street a large mob began taunting the 29th Regiment guarding the customs commissioners. Tensions escalated and the mob, armed with sticks and clubs, began throwing snowballs at the troops. The troops raised their guns at the mob who began chanting “fire and be damned!” The troops fired and three men at the head of the mob fell dead instantly. The three men were: a black sailor named Crispus Attucks, a ropemaker Samuel Gray, and a mariner named James Caldwell. Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr died later. Attucks may have been an escaped slave. He was of Wampanoag Indian and African descent. Sam Adams used the event to further incite Revolutionary fervor into the colonists. Seven months later the troops were put on trial for murder. They were defended by future United States President John Adams who called the crowd that formed that night "a motley rabble of saucy boys, negros and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs.” None of the troops were convicted of murder. The Boston massacre was just one event of that time that lead Thomas Jefferson, inspired by Thomas Paine, to draft the Declaration of Independence six years later. In January 1770 colonists in New York City battled British troops at Golden Hill. On February 22, 1770 Christopher Seider was shot dead in a fight between a patriotic mob and British loyalists. British troops were part of the Boston scenery until they were forced out by General George Washington on March 17, 1776.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
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