The Boston Massacre was an event in history that cannot ever be forgotten by America and the British alike. The Incident on King Street, as it is commonly referred to by the British, started only as a fracas, a mere verbal clash between Bostonian colonists and the British soldiers who were deployed at that time to regulate the angry protestations of the Bostonians against the Townsend acts.
These acts placed tariffs on a number of common items. One of these items was tea, which the Americans loved so much. This massacre in American history is very important because it was what aggrandized the anti-British sentiment, a feeling chiefly responsible for the American Revolution and, later, Independence.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the Boston Massacre, the causes of this massacre, and its effects on Bostonians and America at large.
THE BOSTON MASSACRE
On the 5th of March 1770, an altercation occurred between the colonists and the British soldiers. Earlier in that same month, another confrontation had occurred between the occupants of the Boston Manufactory House, a building that housed poor, homeless, and sick people. This was after the British government had directed the British soldiers to remove residents and take up the place for themselves (Conlin, 2013).
Boston, Massachusetts, even before this particular confrontation that led to the Boston Massacre, had always been a place where radical thoughts and sentiments against the British government thrived (Knollenberg, 1975). Conflicts between the poor locals and British officials had always occurred many times without number that the government had to impose strict regulations in the North American colonies for them to be able to generate revenues (Ross and McCaughey, 1980).
Troops were sent in by the government in 1968 to establish order when officials couldn’t take the resistance and intense opposition from the colonists to paying their taxes, and this even increased the intensity of the anti-British revolution in Boston. The townspeople detested the British soldiers, and this was why they coined the name “redcoat” (because of the red uniforms), to describe the soldiers. As a result of this detest and hate for the redcoats, recurring harassment of officials, and the redcoats, in particular, continued to happen until the Boston Massacre in March 1970 (York, 2010).
On the 5th of March 1970, another intense confrontation occurred again. This led to a violent clash between the townspeople and the redcoats. The locals insulted and harassed the redcoats again, throwing sticks and stones at them. This hassled the redcoats, causing them to frantically opened fire on the angry mob killing 5 people in the process (Zobel, 1970). Five of these victims died on the spot while the other two died as a result of injuries. A victim of this occurrence was Attucks Crispus, a Native American/African free sailor who’s described by many American historians as the first-ever “casualty of the American Revolution”. Two revolutionaries were also critical in the spread of this occurrence throughout America; Samuel Adams and Paul Revere (Allison, 2006).
After this, about 13 officials were apprehended; eight of them were British soldiers; one was an official, while the remaining four were civilians. The state charged them with murder and they were incarcerated. On the 27th of November, 1770, the soldiers were tried. John Adams, also a revolutionary of the American revolution accepted to represent the soldiers in court after they were unable to find a lawyer. After the trial two of the soldiers were convicted of manslaughter, while the other six of them were later acquitted (Zobel, 1970).
CAUSES OF THE BOSTON MASSACRE
During colonial America, Boston was one of the important shipping towns in the country. As mentioned earlier, it was also a place of intense opposition to the authority of the British government. They resisted every policy established by the government to generate revenue. They were particularly resistant to the popular British laws and acts among which were the Stamp Act and the Townsend Acts. The colonist found these taxes annoyingly exploitative and in no way representative of all the colonists at that time.
As a result of this, fights usually arose, regularly, between government officials implementing the tax laws and the townspeople of Boston, Massachusetts. Because of the inability of these officials to tolerate the continued resistance of the people, they decide to inform the centre, and promptly, soldiers (or redcoats) were deployed to the state to implement all the taxes on glass, tea, and some other common goods. This aggravated the locals so much and may have caused them to act violently on March 5, 1970, leading to the massacre (Allison, 2006). Many scholars even believe the act by the townspeople was planned to intensionally frustrate the redcoats and the officials.
EFFECTS OF THE BOSTON MASSACRE
After the trial and conviction of the soldiers involved in this massacre, the entire troop deployed to the state capital of Massachusetts was withdrawn (Bailyn, 1974). The Parliament also revoked all the taxes placed on imports, except for those initially placed on the importation of tea into America.
In addition, this massacre also fueled the American Revolution (although this didn’t start until 5 years later), causing many revolutionaries to fight against the weak stand of the British government in America and the tax policies established by them in different regions of the colony (Zobel, 1970). Years after the massacre, rebellious activities against British tyranny to push for America’s independence were initiated as well among revolutionaries in and around the country (Miller, 1959).
· Allison, Robert J. (2006). The Boston Massacre. Beverly, MA: Applewood Books.
· Bailyn, Bernard (1974). The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
· Conlin, J. R. (2013). The American Past: A Survey of American History, Volume II: Since 1865. 10th Edition. Cengage Learning.
· Knollenberg, Bernhard (1975). Growth of the American Revolution, 1766–1775. New York: Free Press.
· Miller, John (1959). Origins of the American Revolution. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
· Ross, B. M., and McCaughey, E. P. (1980). From Loyalist to Founding Father: the Political Odyssey of William Samuel Johnson. New York: Columbia University Press.
· York, N. L. (2010). The Boston Massacre: a History with Documents. New York: Taylor & Francis.
· Boston Massacre. Accessed at https://www.history.com/.amp/topics/american-revolution/boston-massacre