The New International Encyclopædia/Boston Massacre, The
BOSTON MASSACRE, The. After the quartering of British troops in Boston (1768), there was continual friction between the soldiery and the people. Several minor riots occurred early in 1770, and the trouble culminated on March 5, when seven soldiers under Captain Preston, who were being pelted with snowballs and stones by fifty or sixty of the populace, headed by one Crispus Attucks (q.v.), fired into the crowd, killing three and wounding seven more, of whom two died. This act infuriated the Boston people, who met in mass-meeting and compelled the withdrawal to Castle Island (March 12) of the two regiments of troops. The seven soldiers, with Captain Preston, were tried for murder in October and November, were defended by John Adams and Josiah Quincy, and were finally acquitted, though two of them were declared guilty of manslaughter and received light punishments. There is much difference of opinion with respect to the ‘Massacre,’ some writers regarding it as a lawless affair discreditable to the people and the soldiers alike and without any great historical significance; others, as the “first act in the drama of the Revolution.” In 1816 John Adams wrote: “Not the Battle of Lexington or Bunker Hill, not the surrender of Burgoyne or Cornwallis, were more important events in American history than the battle of King Street on the 5th of March, 1770.” The day was annually connnemorated in Boston until 1783, and in 1888 a monument was erected to the memory of the ten victims. Consult: Kidder, History of the Boston Massacre (Albany, 1870); and Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, Vol. III. (Boston, 1880-81).