Boston Massacre Site
On March 5, 1770, after months of tensions due to occupation and taxation, Bostonians and Redcoats clashed in the streets of Boston. What ended with five civilians killed by gunfire, Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr, led to the rallying of Bostonians against the Crown and the evacuation of troops in Boston. They would not return until 1774.
The tensions that led to the Boston Massacre were the product of the occupation of Boston by Redcoats in 1768. Redcoats were sent to Boston to quell riots in the wake of the Townsend Duties and to protect customs officials. With 2,000 soldiers occupying a town with a population of about 16,000, friction was inevitable. The violent clash on March 5, 1770 began with an argument that led to a riot outside of the Customs House.
Captain Preston of the 29th Regiment arrived with eight fellow Redcoats to extract White from the square. The crowd pressed on the soldiers and shots were fired by the Redcoats. When the smoke cleared, five men lay dead or dying. The first man to fall at the Boston Massacre was dockworker Crispus Attucks, who was of African and Indigenous descent. Little is known about Crispus Attucks, and yet he is one of the most important figures in the Revolution.
The Sons of Liberty held funerals for the victims and organized a vigorous propaganda effort in order to turn public opinion against the Redcoats, and labeled the tragedy a "bloody massacre." Paul Revere's print of the event, based on an illustration by Henry Pelham, was widely circulated. The British soldiers were tried for murder and were defended by John Adams, a Boston lawyer who was as loyal to the idea of justice as he was to the Patriot cause.
"The Bells in Town rang as for Fire for a Long Time which collected Thousands of People on the other Hand ye 29th Regiment was drawn up. During which the noise of the Bells the Bustle of the Town the Beating of Drums & the Reports of killed and wounded."Letter from Andrew Oliver, Jr. to Benjamin Lynde, 6-7 March 1770, Massachusetts Historical Society
Boston Massacre Site
The Boston Massacre site marker is located at the intersection of State and Congress Streets in Downtown Boston, outside of the Old State House, a few yards away from where the Massacre took place. The Massacre site has been moved twice, both times from the center of the intersection. Today, a medallion on the Freedom Trail marks the site of the Boston Massacre and reenactments hosted by the Bostonian Society take place on the anniversary every year.Bostonian Society