The town of Boston was a very unstable throughout the 1760’s. This instability quickly turned to violence in the early part of 1770’s. Tension had already begun to in the beginning of the year with various clashes between the British and the colonists. However, in early March the tensions erupted into bloodshed to create what we now know as the Boston Massacre. The occurrence of these events is a fact, however, the interpretations of them has changed over time. The reports are colored by events that are taking place during the period of time in which they were written and by the author’s own prejudices and opinions. However, we can use these imperfections as a way of tracking what is occurring in America and the state of politics.
In a piece dated 1823, (John Prentiss, History of the United States of America) it is understood as though the author is blaming the citizens for taunting the British soldiers into a position that forced them into firing. Given the current year, there were many citizens who still felt a loyalty towards Britain and were annoyed with their neighbors. This was considered acceptable behavior being that Americans needed the support of the British in order to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. Britain possessed the guns and naval power while America did not.
Advancing further into history, accounts in 1855 (A.B. Berard, School History of the United States) and 1856 (Harper’s School History, Narrative of the General Course of History) also offer different portrayals of the same events despite their close proximity to one another. The 1855 account has a different interpretation of how the event gained excitement and it goes on to say that it was a “negro who had excited the disturbance.” The reference to “negro” was due to the national discussion of slavery. At the time, there was an ongoing debate on the existence and expansion of slavery. The remainder of the article goes on to talk about the experiences of young boys with the British soldiers. This might have been used to show that even the younger population of the colonies could exhibit strong feelings of bravery and patriotism.
Shifting over to A.B. Berard’s 1856 account, it begins with an austere description of what occurred on that day. Only facts are used and there is no additional commentary offered on the boy’s death. It continues with an explanation of how the death has such a strong effect on the citizens and their feelings towards the soldiers. I believe this work shows the increasing tension within a period of just one year. The country was...