Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Boston Massacre

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BOSTON MASSACRE, an affray in that city, March 5, 1770, that resulted from the exasperated feeling between residents of the town and the British soldiers quartered there. It began on the 2d of March, with the exchange of insults and blows between a group of workmen and some passing soldiers. Minor injuries resulted, but the affair was stopped before it had reached large proportions. Three days later, toward evening, another party of soldiers was denied passage by a crowd of people armed with canes and clubs. The officer of the detachment sent his soldiers back, and then the crowd began to taunt a sentinel on guard in front of the Custom House. He struck a boy with the butt of his musket, and the latter ran off and brought up a crowd, who pressed upon the sentinel with shouts of “Kill him! Knock him down!” The sentinel was assailed with a shower of snowballs and driven up the steps. He called for assistance and his comrades responded, their colonel, Preston, at their head. The crowd surged about them, and at last a volley was fired by the soldiers that resulted in the killing of three men and the mortal wounding of two others. Alarm bells were rung, enraged citizens hurried to the scene and there was tremendous excitement, that was quieted only when Preston was put under arrest by order of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson and the soldiers ordered back to their barracks. A trial ensued and Preston, who was defended by eminent counsel, including John Adams and Josiah Quincy, was acquitted, while two of the soldiers who were found guilty of manslaughter were branded in the hand and discharged. A monument was erected in 1888 to the memory of the victims.