The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre
Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre, probably copied off Henry Pelham's work on the subject.

On the evening of March the 5th, 1770, British soldiers fired on a mob, killing five colonists and wounding six. But why was this act perpetrated, and what happened to the murderers?

Private Hugh White was the only soldier guarding the King's money in the custom house in Boston. His loneliness was soon alleviated in a quite unpleasant way, as some angry colonists (sore of taxation) joined him, insulting the poor guard and threatening him.

White soon called upon reinforcements, as he was being pelted with stones, ice, and snowballs. Captain Thomas Preston and some soldiers came to help him out. They formed up outside the Custom House, where they were assaulted by a mob with the same implements that they used upon White. However, the soldiers did not fire and weathered the blows.

At this point, some colonists pleaded with the soldiers not to fire, but many others dared them to, and also threw rocks and chunks of ice. In the confusion, one of the soldiers fired his gun as a result of a colonist lunging at him with a club. At this, the colonists attacked the soldiers, and more firing commenced, leaving five colonists dead.

Later, the soldiers were tried, and most of them weren't punished because they weren't able to understand their captain in the confusion; however, two were executed for manslaughter.

The Boston Massacre gave the colonists another reason to revolt and try to escape the British rule, and was one of the events that led to the American Revolution.