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The Boston Massacre

Boston massacre occurred in March 5th 1770 between a patriotic mob and a squad of British soldiers. As a result, within a few hours, five British regulars were killed. Nonetheless, it took a few more years for people to understand the situation leading to the massacre and the resulting trials. In fact, the massacre is only understood when one gets to the setting of other historic events.

Since 1767, citizens had been protesting the presence of the troops from Britain in Boston. In particular, they were against heavy tax burden that was imposed on shared products brought in from the colonies. Such products included glass, paper, and tea. Consequently, in 1768, citizens rioted in Boston and kept calling the soldiers names, spitting on them, and fighting with sticks, stones, and other small arms. Further, they prohibited the combatants from performing their duties, leading to increased tensions within the city.

In March 5th 1770, The British officers called in for support and relief. The leader of the soldiers was Thomas Preston. Unfortunately, on arrival, he and other soldiers met a great and provocative multitude of civilians. He was incapable of dispersing the crowd that kept chanting that if the soldiers would fire, then they would be damned. Though he ordered the soldiers not to fire, they went ahead to open fire, consequently killing three civilians. A few others were wounded and two of those died later.

After seven months, a meeting was called to demand the removal of the British soldiers in the city. Further, Captain Preston and his soldiers were tried for man slaughter. A lot of evidence was given by the citizens, each of them narrating a different version of the events at the massacre. Preston was secured through Robert Auchmuty, John Adams and Josiah Quincy. The captain was cleared by the Boston jury. However, the soldiers were defended a month later by a jury coming outside Boston, and were cleared based on self-defense. In the end, two of them were guilty as charged concerning murder due to overwhelming evidence of them firing into the masses.

Evidently, the trials were the longest in British history as the jury tried to buy time as the tensions eased off. It was also the first time a judge used the term ‘reasonable doubt’ during trials. Further, historians and lawyers remember the events because the Benefit of the Clergy was used by the soldiers to avoid death penalties. Though the massacre was a single event, it attracted a lot of attention and took many years to be understood.

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