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Examining Whether Or Not The Boston Massacre Was A True Massacre

1184 words - 5 pages

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines massacre as “the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty” or “a cruel or wanton murder” (m-w.com). Essentially a massacre results in either the death of many people or death by cruel means. The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770, in Boston, Massachusetts and involved American colonists and British troops. The colonists, upset by recent laws enacted by the British, taunted a smaller group of British soldiers by throwing snowballs at them (Boston Massacre Historical Society). In response, the soldiers fired upon the unarmed colonists leaving five people dead and six wounded (Phelan, 131). Even though the event in Boston on March 5, 1770, in which blood was shed, and called the Boston Massacre, the actions which took place on that day did not constitute a massacre. Since only five people were killed and six wounded and there was no evidence of cruelty, the name Boston Massacre was likely a propaganda ploy by Samuel Adams to rally the colonists against the British instead of a true massacre.
After the French and Indian War ended, England had massive debt and little revenue, so Parliament passed laws taxing the American colonists to aid in paying for the British army and navy that helped protect the colonies. Parliament passed a series of laws, including the Sugar Act and Stamp Act, which taxed goods purchased by the colonists. Colonial merchants, who did not feel they should be taxed without representation in Parliament, signed non-importation agreements promising not to buy or import British goods. There was a lot of violence committed on the customs officials who were enforcing the laws. Eventually the Stamp Act was repealed and then replaced by the Townshend Acts in 1767. The Townshend Acts put heavy taxes on goods that the colonists used every day, including paper, paint, and glass (Boston Massacre Historical Society). The act also gave customs agents the authority to search property, including the colonists’ homes. The colonial response to these acts was increasing violence against the customs officials. In 1768, the British government sent troops to America to reinforce the Townshend Acts and protect the customs agents. At one point there were 4,000 British soldiers in a city of only 16,000 people (Phelan, 24). According to Phelan, there were “almost daily confrontations” between soldiers and civilians (38). There was increasing tension between the troops and the American colonists. Some children as well as adults tormented the troops by throwing snowballs and chunks of ice at the soldiers. There was also increasing tension between the colonists who were loyal to the Crown and those who were loyal to the colonies because some store owners broke their agreements about importing and selling British goods. Children threw trash and rocks at those storeowners’ buildings. Several days...

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