Notably, Boston Massacre is an important event in the American history of revolution. The massacre occurred on the 5th of March 1770 in the streets of Boston. The fight involved various individuals that included the Patriots and the British soldiers. The Boston Massacre describes a tale where American patriots revolted against the British soldiers to defend their rights and obtain their freedom to form a newly independent nation. The British soldiers reacted and murdered innocent civilians in a mob violence act that lacked compassion and justice. The massacre resulted in the deaths and injuries of numerous Americans and a few British soldiers. As a result, American historians regard it as an essential part of the American revolutionary war. Although the memories of the massacre have been shaped and re-shaped over the centuries, the actions of the massacre continually define the American Revolution and the independence of the country. Therefore, it is essential to analyze and examine the causes, results, and significance of the Boston Massacre to the United States of America.
The Causes of the Boston Massacre
Colonialists attempted to alleviate their financial burden by developing new tax regimes to be levied on the American colonies. The main reason for their financial burden was the high cost of operation and administration of its colonies. According to Burgan, the British authorities developed and adopted the 1764 Sugar Act (11). The 1764 Sugar Act was the first tax law that the British developed to collect additional funds for administration of the United States of America. The Sugar Act increased the tax on foreign goods such as coffee, cambric and wine that Americans enjoyed. The British adopted this law to eliminate the problem of bribery and corruption in the United States of America. The Sugar Act not only eliminated these problems, it controlled trade between America and other nations like Portugal. A majority of American patriots opposed the law as it increased their financial burden and limited their trade options.
Equally important, the British authorities ignored the protests and passed the Stamp Act on all paper commodities in the colonies. The Act was also met with pervasive protests since it was a direct tax on the North American colonies. Additionally, some colonialists resisted against the Stamp Act to shut the door for introduction of more troublesome taxation laws in the country. Due to the rising unconstitutionality and the lack of representation in the parliament, Fradin argues that concerned and brave Americans formed protest groups such as the Sons of Liberty were formed in 1765 to fight for their rights (13). Nonetheless, the parliament assumed the groups and continued to make more laws that gave them the power to tax the colonies. For example, Burgan (44) explains that the 1767 Townshend Act placed indirect taxation on commodities and goods such as tea, glass, and paper. The law infuriated Americans; hence, they decided to engage the British soldiers in street fights to oppose their draconian laws.
According to Ready, London responded to the protests by the colonists by giving a directive to dissolve legislatures such as the Massachusetts Legislature in April 1768 ( 23). The circular letter sent by the Britain’s colonial secretary acted as a threat to the customs officials in Boston. In response, Charles Paxton, who was the chief of the Boston customs officials requested for a military presence in Boston city. Soldiers arrived later in the city and created their station in the harbor. The soldiers took over the harbor. Boston citizens were angered since the soldiers took control over the harbor. The British authorities continued to deploy military officers in Boston to intimidate the locals. Consequently, colonial leaders planned boycotts of taxable goods to resist the Townshend Act. Tensions remained high until 1770 March when the dreadful Boston Massacre occurred.
The Protests that Led to the Boston Massacre
In 1770, tensions remained high in Boston and aggravated in February the same year when Christopher Seider was hit and killed by Richardson. The incidence happened when a Richardson, a customs official, fired randomly into a mob to disperse them outside his house (Allison 23). The Sons of Liberty protest group organized a large funeral for Seider. The Sons of Liberty chanted anti-British propaganda that incited many Boston citizens to confront British soldier in the city. The Sons of Liberty group tainted the situation as badly inflamed such that most people in Boston were ready for mass protests against the British soldiers (Burgan 48). Boston showed open dislike for the British rule in the city. Though the British administration was not surprised to meet resistance in Boston, British rule in Boston grew more unpopular than before as the resistance became strong. The resistance from the colonists bore what is presently understood as the Bloody Massacre in the King Street.
It was on a chilly night on 5th March 20, 1770, when a mob in protest approached a British soldier guarding the Boston’s Customs House. The mob taunted the officer, which forced him to call for help from his fellow soldiers (Burgan 24). The Captain, John Goldfinch, was taunted by Edward Garrick for claims that he had not paid off his debts. The protesters taunted the British officials to provoke them. The actions of the protesters forced the British Captain, Preston, to order the other guards to beef-up security in the region to ensure peace and unity in Boston. Sadly, the protesters reacted by throwing snowballs at the soldiers. In response, Private Hugh Montgomery fired at the crowd after being hit during the fracas. His actions motivated the soldiers to engage the protesters since they fired randomly at innocent Americans. The shooting led to the death of around five Americans. The five were identified as Crispus Attucks, James Caldwell, Patrick Carr, Samuel Maverick, and Samuel Gray (Allison 18). Equally, other members and certain British officials sustained injuries.
Boston Massacre Trials, Aftermath, and Significance
After the fateful Boston Massacre, the acting Governor Hutchinson stepped into the situation to restore order. While investigations into the killings were underway, Hutchinson had to bow to public pressure and call for the withdrawal of British troops from Castle Island (Hutchinson 40). Consequently, as the victims of the massacre were being laid to rest, Preston, his troop, and four locals were arrested for manslaughter on March 27. On the trails for the perpetrators of the massacre, tension grew high in the city since their trial was postponed to later in the year. Hutchinson worked hard to delay their trials as tensions grew dangerously high in the city. During the delay period, propaganda conflict between the Loyalists and the Patriots waged high as each group tried to influence support for their cause abroad. Preston and his crew were denied defense by the Loyalist attorneys.
However, a popular Patriot Lawyer, Adams John, offered to defend them. Preston was tried differently from others due to his vital role in the massacre. Although he played a huge role in the massacre, his trial lasted for six days. He argued that he did not give an order to his men to fire, and he was acquitted (Allison 40). The British authorities sent Preston to Castle Williams to protect him from the angry Americans. Represented by John Adams in a later month, the lawyer claimed that the soldiers had a legal right to shield themselves since they were provoked by the crowd. The trial of the remaining soldiers took around eight days. The judges acquitted six soldiers on the grounds of self-defence during the war. Nonetheless, Allison states that they charged only Montgomery and Mathew Kilroy with manslaughter (40). Particularly, Kilroy was charged with the murder of Gray, wheras Montgomery was charged with the murder of Crispus. The judges levelled these charged against them since they had proof that he two soldiers fired directly at the two patriots.
The trials only increased the tension in the Boston city. Tension continued to remain high since the day of the massacre. A significant aftermath of the massacre was that on 5th March; Lord North presented a parliamentary bill that sought to repeal the fateful Townshend Act partially (Allison 65). Due to the urgency and the importance of the then current situation in the colonies, the Parliament was forced to do away with most of the features of the Townshend Act in April the same year. However, the tax on tea was left. Conflict and tension never ceased despite the efforts to eliminate most aspects of the Townshend Act. The Parliament passed the Tea Act of 1774 and other punitive laws labeled as intolerable laws (Allison 57). The series of retributive laws set forth a war between the Britain and the colonies. They ushered the American Revolution that began in April 1775 during the Concord and Lexington clashes.
In conclusion, the Boston Massacre experience has a lot of significance to the American history and revolution. The most apparent result of the massacre was the April 1775 revolution that resulted in the Lexington and Concord battles (Ready 41). The revolution caused a successful mission in Boston and America liberation. Later in March 1776, George Washington successfully placed cannons and fortifications on Dorchester Heights; thus, driving away the British forces out of Boston (Allison, 60). This marked the end of an eight-year British rule and occupation in Boston. Besides, the Boston Massacre is a major reason why the other colonies of the British came together against the British rule, to create a war and ensure freedom. Importantly, Boston Massacre depicts the power of organized local resistance against imperial rule. The massacre was a highway to America’s independence.
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Allison, Robert J. The Boston Massacre. Beverly, Mass: Commonwealth Editions, 2006.
Burgan, Michael. The Boston Massacre. Minneapolis, Minn: Compass Point Books, 2005.
Fradin, Dennis B. The Boston Massacre. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2009.
Ready, Dee. The Boston Massacre. Mankato, Minn: Bridgestone Books, 2001.
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