Boston Massacre BY acb112188 The Boston Massacre, was the first bloodshed between the British and the American colonists, which ultimately lead to war between the two. Here, I will discuss the events leading up to the Massacre, which the hostilities of the colonial people will be discussed. I believe that the British troops fired the first shot, but were ultimately lead to this point through the colonists antagonization. I have broken this paper down into two main pieces. The first will be the events that lead to the Boston Massacre happening. The second will be the accounts of
Captain Preston, and the Paul Revere engraving. The political events leading up to the Boston Massacre started with unfair taxes. The first tax, in which George Greenville, the new prime minister ordered, was known as the sugar act. With this, Britain lowered duties on paid molasses, but also raised taxes on all imported goods to the colonies. Violations of such would result in prosecution by the British vice-admiralty. (Pearson, 98) After such a tax, the British imposed another, harsher tax on the colonists. THe stamp act, required colonists to place stamps on everything paper bound.
The idea came from a similar tax the British used on their own people. Once again, no taxation without representation was a violation of the colonists beliefs. The stamp act gave more colonists the idea that Britain was not on their side. The most felt by this tax were the lawyers and printers, who used their anger to transcribe negative writings in newspapers, and pamphlets that spread around the colonies. (Pearson, 100) As George Greenville was dismissed by the king in 1765, a new prime minister emerged. His name was Charles Wentworth who passed two new pieces of legislature.
The first passed, was the Declaratory Act. The Declaratory Act commissioned that all laws and statutes passed by the British were binding on the colonies. The second legislature passed, repealed the hated Stamp Act. Through this, Britain believed they once again asserted dominance over the colonies all the while removing what the colonists hated, the Stamp Act. ( Pearson, 101) The colonists were still unsatisfied that Britain thought they could control the colonies: “Colonial politics had moved from the margins to the center of British politics.
The issue of what to do about the colonies would define British politics for the next decade. In the colonies the conflict over British policy transformed American politics, bringing to the fore a group of Patriots, aggressive supporters of American rights, including the Sons of Liberty, a group devoted to opposing British policy and defending American rights. ” (Pearson, 101) As you can see, the American colonists have already began to become annoyed by British control. However, the acts did not stop there. Britain, in need of money, imposed new taxes on the colonies.
The Townshend Acts of 1767, applied taxes on glass, paint, paper, and tea imported into the colonies. The colonists began a nonimportation movement, which boycotted against all British goods. All colonists contributed to this movement. Women, especially helped with the production of their own goods. (Pearson, 101) “Between 1765 and 1768, the British transferred the bulk of their military forces in the America from the frontier to the major seaports, site of the most violent oppositions to the Stamp Act. This increased the already tense sltuatlon In tnese localltles.
In 1 16B, tne simmering tenslons Detween colonlsts and the British government came to a head when British customs officials in Boston eized merchant John Hancock’s ship Liberty. Custom officials had long suspected Hancock of smuggling and thought that seizing the Liberty would give them proof to prosecute him. The decision proved to be a serious blunder. The symbolic significance of the British assault on a ship named Liberty was not lost on Bostonians, who saw this as an assault on the idea of liberty itself. In response to the seizure of the Liberty, Bostonians rioted, driving customs officials from the town.
To quell unrest in Boston, the British dispatched additional troops and warships to the area. By 1769, the British had stationed almost 4,000 troops, dubbed redcoats because of their red uniforms, in a city with a population of roughly 15,000. (Pearson, 102) This action, helped create more intensity within Boston. With 15,000 people in Boston along with 4,000 was a little more than a 4 to 1 ratio of Bostonians to the British troops. You simply couldn’t go a few feet without seeing a troop walking around where in town.
Troubling things started to happen because of such intensity that will lead to the Boston Massacre. The people of Boston were not very fond of Captain Preston and his British troops. It is [a] matter of too great notoriety to need any proofs that the arrival of his Majesty’s troops in Boston was extremely obnoxious to its inhabitants. ” 0 Captain Preston’s accounts state that on Monday night at 8 0’clock, two soldiers were attacked and that at about 9, his troops came to him and said the townspeople were planning an attack on his troops.
The town bells were ringing, which usually signifies firing. These bells, were instead used to gather people from the countryside to the city. He then walked to his guard, and there he saw about 100 walking towards the custom house where the kings money was stored. He was informed by a townsmen that their intention was to carry off the guard and murder him. So, in defense, he sent a non-commissioned officer and 12 soldiers to defend the kings money. Soon, he too came to the custom house to prevent any type of aggression.
A mob surrounded him, and the mob was instigating the troops to fire, swearing at them, calling them all sorts of names. As Preston got in between the two parties, the colonists had their bayonets pointed at the soldiers. Captain Preston told the colonists that the guns were loaded, but he had no intention of firing the weapons. As one soldier was struck with a stick very hard, took a few steps to the side and fired. Preston claims he didn’t tell the soldier to fire. ( ) All the while, an attack on his troops happened.
They were beaten with sticks and pelted with snowballs. Colonists were provoking the soldiers into firing, and instantly, three or four troops fired at the colonists. One colonist was dead, three were hurt, and four were severely hurt. Preston again claimed he told the soldiers not to fire, but some mistakenly thought he meant to fire. After this, on the next street, 4 to 5000 people assembled ready to take the British troops lives. Captain Preston then told his troops to the main guard, where the streets were narrow and told them to expect an attack.
He heard the colonists drums going, so he told his troops to drum as well. Preston and Colonel Carr agreed that the troops should return to their barracks. 0 A council was called immediately, with a warrant for the arrest of Preston and eight soldiers. Preston turned himself into the sheriffs office, and trial ensued. Before the lustlces, two wltnesses clalmea ne sal e ne clay or 6 more colonists came to attest that Preston called for shooting. Captain Preston claims they used false tatements to convict him. 0 This differs from the Paul Revere Etching on the Boston Massacre.
On the pamphlet, it shows us British troops aggressively firing on what looks like innocent towns people. Through looking at the pamphlet, it looks as though British troops were told to fire on the colonists. The shooting looks like it took place in an open area, and the British troops are lined up for battle. The colonists here are unarmed, with the dead colonists on the front lines, clearly visible. (Paul Revere, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770. ” Boston, 1770) As you can clearly see, a more accurate epiction of what actually took place would have to be Captain Preston’s accounts.
Here, he talks about how troops were surrounded, egged on, beaten with sticks, and pelted with snowballs. It seems like their lives were in danger, which caused the troops to shoot the colonists. Ultimately, I believe that Captain Preston’s accounts were fairly accurate. However, on that night, whatever the troops did, they weren’t going to end without gunshots. Their lives were probably in danger, and I’m sure most of them were fearing for their own safety. Paul Revere used his pamphlet to spread word of the Boston Massacre in a different way.
He used it to rally troops by showing the brutality of the night. Works Cited Keene, Jennifer D. , Saul Cornell, and Edward T. O’Donnell. “Chapter 4. ” Visions of America: A History of the United States / Jennifer D. Keene, Saul Cornell, Edward T. O’Donnell. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 98-102. Print. Revere, Paul. Paul Revere, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770. ” Boston, 1770. Digital image. My History Lab. Pearson, 2009. Web. 15 Oct. 2013. Welling, George M. “Captain Preston’s Account of the Boston Massacre March 5 1770. ” University Of Groningen, Aug. 2012. web. 15 oct. 2013.