The Boston Massacre

On this day in 1770, British Army soldiers open fire on a mob of unruly colonists, killing five, wounding three and placing the Boston Massacre into the historical lexicon. The incident was heavily publicized by leading Patriots, such as Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, to further encourage rebellion against British authorities. Such cunning stirred both sophisticated aspirations and common resentments coming to full bloody flower at Lexington and Concord five years later.

British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation. Amid ongoing tense relations between the population and the soldiers, on the chilly eve of March 5, a mob formed around a British sentry, who was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. 

As the hostile taunts escalated, the sentry was eventually supported by eight additional soldiers, who were taunted with verbal threats and repeatedly hit by clubs, stones and snowballs. Without orders, the British contingent fired a volley into the crowd, instantly killing three; among these, Crispus Attucks was the first to fall, thus making a man of color the first casualty of the American Revolution.

Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder. Six of the soldiers were acquitted, while the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences; these men were sentenced to branding on their hand. As a final irony, the Brits were defended by patriot firebrand and future President John Adams, indelibly engraving the principle of due process into the wiser amalgams of the American DNA.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

What say you, the people?