Historical Context and Background: The Boston Massacre - Paper Example

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Boston Massacre occurred after the arrival of British troops in the year 1798. The British troops came to Massachusetts Boston so that they could enforce tax payment among the citizen. The hated tax was known as the tax-heavy Townshend Acts. During the ensuing period, tension emerged between the colonist and the soldiers of Massachusetts which culminated and resulted in what is now known as the Boston Massacre. The wrangle between the colonists and the Massachusetts soldier resulted in the killing of the five British Soldiers. The killing afterward together with some various milestone resulted in the agitation for the revolutionary sentiments in the entire America which alternatively resulted in war. However, John Adams who was a patriot citizen and championed for the revolution decided to go to court and defend the British soldiers.

The Boston Massacre

On the 5th march of 1770, a group of 50 colonist soldiers intentionally attacked British guards by throwing sticks, snowballs as well as stones at the British troops. According to Steven O'Neill, of the Historical Boston Massacre Society, the trouble started when local British boy was bruised and started crying after being run off by the colonists. Thomas Preston, the British Captain, responded by sending more reinforcements to tackle the rowdy crowd. The reinforcement team was also attacked. Therefore, the British troops were forced to fire into the crowd that leads to the death of five while wounding six people. After three weeks, Preston together with eight soldiers and Four British Civilian were indicated by the Boston Grand Jury for allegedly firing into the crowd. Preston along with others was accused of murder while inside the Custom House. The court ruled that if the accused group were convicted, all of them would face executions. During the trials, Preston, the British Captain together with his men and the other four civilians were not able to find a counsel for legal representation despite seeking help from several lawyers. However, John Adams, 35 years of the old man came to the defense of the accused individuals.

Controversial decision made by a John Adams

After the Boston Massacre, there was an arrest of Captain Preston his men as well as the other four civilians. The arrested persons were not able to get legal representation. When John Adam and Josiah Quincy learned of that, they decided to offer their services to the accused individuals. However, people have been asking why John Adams decided to make such a controversial decision of defending individuals who have been allegedly linked with killing Boston Residents including Samuel Gray, James Coldwell, Samuel Maverick, Patrick Carr and Crispus Attucks.

The decision made by John Adams was controversial because the task was capable of severely affecting his reputation as well as future income. However, John was forced to represent the accused individual after realizing that they lacked regal representation in the courts. John Adams believed that everybody deserved a fair trial and entitled to equal justice. John knew that his actions were of great risk and put wife and family members in great danger. However, he believed that doing so would put his name on the history books as a man who upholds the law and put it above his own beliefs. According to Hiller Zobel, he believed that John Adam might have been inspired to represent the accused in exchange for Boston's legislative seat since he became the town priority three months later after the seat became vacant

Controversial decision made by court

After the arrest of Thomas Preston and the other, the court trials failed to take place immediately. The trials took place after seven months. The court decided to delay the trial so that the bad feelings by the Boston citizens on the murder of their colleagues cool down. During this long waiting period before the start of the trial, propaganda was launched by the Son of Liberty to try to change the mind of the people on the murder of the people. The court took the controversial decision of delaying the trial of the accused individual so that the bad blood between the colonies and the Britain may cool down. When the trial started, it lasted only for six days whereby Captain Thomas pleaded not guilty but failed to testify. The strategy by the defense group was there were no orders given to the soldiers by Preston to shoot into the crowd. The defense side provided 23 soldiers to testify that the crowd provoked the soldiers. Finally, the court decided to acquit Thomas on the ground of "reasonable doubt" a phrase used by the judge for the first time. The controversial decision made by the court was meant to protect the relationship between the Boston citizens and the colonist so that there could be no wars and bloodshed anymore.

Factors that resulted in the outcome of the trial

Need for peace

The court feared that jailing the Britain soldier would and other civilian may lead to the bad relationship between the Boston citizen and the colonists. Therefore, to avoid the escalation of the massacre, bloodshed and more death, the court decided to acquit the accused individual to ensure that peace existed among the people

Weak management by the prosecution team

The prosecution team failed to collect adequate information and witness to testify against the accused. The team of the prosecution based their argument that the soldiers wanted to revenge after being abused by the residents of the town. On cross-examination, the prosecution case was found to be weak leading to the acquisition of the accused team.

Significance of Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre brought to light the oppression by the British thereby leading to the unity of many revolutionists the opportunity to unite. Additionally, the massacre resulted in the resistance of the British taxes as well as the trade policies that were harmful and damaging. Finally, the Boston massacre was vital since it resulted at the end of the association between the British and the American Colonist as well as galvanizing colonial society to turn against British thereby leading to Revolutionary War.

My Opinion on Boston Massacre

According to me, the soldiers were innocent and shot at the crowd because they were scared as well as confused about the group that was aggressive and shouting at them to shoot. The soldier had no intention of killing and injuring Boston citizen but only acted to defend themselves. Therefore, the soldiers together with the civilians were wrongly detained in jails for the seven months. Hence the released of the soldiers was a significant victory for justice to them and their families as well.



Humphrey, Thomas J. "Robert Love's Warnings: Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston/Taming Lust: Crimes against Nature in the Early Republic." Journal of the Early Republic 35, no. 2 (2015): 313.

Thorley, Craig, and Jayne RushtonWoods. "Blame conformity: Leading eyewitness statements can influence attributions of blame for an accident." Applied cognitive psychology 27, no. 3 (2013): 291-296.

Tunc, I. N. C. E., and Furkan Besel. "The Effect of External Shocks on Tax Burden: Is It Permanent or Temporary?" Celal Bayar Universitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi 14, no. 2 (2016).


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