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Boston Massacre

March 13, 1770

TOWNSHEND ACTS - British soldiers kill five members of a rioting Boston crowd

Boston Massacre - revolutionary War

BOSTON, March 12, 1770

OUR Readers will doubtless expect a circumstantial Account of the tragical Affair on Monday Night last; but we hope they will excuse our not being so particular as we should have been, had we not seen, that the Town was intending an Enquiry and full Representation thereof.

On the Evening of Monday, being the 5th Current, several Soldiers of the 29th Regiment were seen parading the Streets with their drawn Cutlasses and Bayonets, abusing and wounding Numbers of the Inhabitants.

A few Minutes after Nine o'Clock, four Youths, named Edward Archbald, William Merchant, Francis Archbald, and John Leech, just came down Cornhill together, and separating at Doctor Loring Corner, the two former were passing the narrow Alley leading to Murray Barrack, in which was a Soldier brandishing a Broad Sword of an uncommon Size against the Walls, out of which he struck Fire plentifully. A Person of a mean Countenance, armed with a large Cudgel, bore him Company. Edward Archbald admonished Mr. Merchant to take Care of the Sword, on which the Soldier turned round, and struck Archbald on the Arm, then pushed at Merchant, and pierced through his Clothes inside the Arm, close to the Armpit, and grazed the Skin. Merchant then struck the Soldier with a short Stick he had, and the other Person ran to the Barrack, and brought with him two Soldiers, one armed with a Pair of Tongs, the other with a Shovel; he with the Tongs pursued Archbald back through the Alley, collared and laid him over the Head with the Tongs. The Noise brought People together, and John Hicks, a young Lad, coming up, knocked the Soldier down, but let him get up again; and more Lads gathering, drove them back to the Barrack, where the Boys stood some Time as it were to keep them in. In less than a Minute 10 or 12 of them came out with drawn Cutlasses, Clubs and Bayonets, and set upon the unarmed Boys and young Folks, who stood them a little while, but finding the Inequality of their Equipment, dispersed. 

On hearing the Noise, one Samuel Atwood came up, to see what was the Matter, and entering the alley from Dock square, heard the latter Part of the Combat, and when the Boys had dispersed, he met the 10 or 12 Soldiers aforesaid rushing down the Alley towards the Square, and asked them, if they intended to murder People? They answered, yes, by G-d, Root and Branch! With that one of them struck Mr. Atwood with a Club, which was repeated by another, and being unarmed, he turned to go off, and received a Wound on the Left Shoulder, which reached the Bone, and gave him much Pain. Retreating a few Steps, Mr. Atwood met two Officers, and said, Gentlemen, what is the Matter? They answered, you see by and by. Immediately after, those Heroes appeared in the Square, asking, where were the Boogers? where were the Cowards? 

But notwithstanding their Fierceness to naked men, one of them advanced towards a Youth, who had a Split of a raw Stave in his Hand, and said, damn them, here is one of them; but the young Man seeing a Person near him with a drawn Sword and good Cane, ready to support him, held up his Stave in Defiance, and they quietly passed by him up the little Alley by Mr. Silsby to King street, where they attacked single and unarmed Persons, till they raised much Clamor, and then turned down Cornhill street, insulting all they met in like Manner, and pursuing some to their very Doors. Thirty or forty Persons, mostly Lads, being by this Means gathered in King street, Captain Preston, with a Party of Men with charged Bayonets, came from the Main Guard to the Commissioners House, the Soldiers pushing their Bayonets, crying Make Way! They took Place by the Custom house, and continuing to push to drive the People off, pricked some in several Places; on which they were clamorous, and, it is said, threw Snowballs. On this, the Captain commanded them to fire, and more Snowballs coming, he again said, Damn you, fire, be the Consequence what it will! One Soldier then fired, and a Townsman, with a Cudgel, struck him over the Hands with such Force, that he dropped his Firelock; and rushing forward, aimed a Blow at the Captain Head, which grazed his Hat, and fell pretty heavy upon his Arm. However, the Soldiers continued the Fire, successively, till 7 or 8, or as some say, 11 Guns were discharged.

By this fatal Maneuver, three Men were laid dead on the Spot, and two more struggling for Life; but what showed a Degree of Cruelty, unknown to British Troops, at least since the House of Hanover has directed their Operations, was an Attempt to fire upon, or push with their Bayonets the Persons, who undertook to remove the slain and wounded!

Mr. Benjamin Leigh, now Undertaker in the Delph Manufactory, came up, and after some Conversation with Captain Preston, relative to his Conduct in this Affair, advised him to draw off his Men, with which he complied.

The Dead are Mr. Samuel Gray, killed on the Spot, the Ball entering his Head, and beating off a large Portion of his Skull.

A Mulattoe Man, named Crispus Attucks, who was born in Framingham, but lately belonged to New Providence, and was here in order to go for North Carolina, also killed instantly; two Balls entering his Breast, one of them in special goring the Right Lobe of the Lungs, and a great Part of the Liver most horribly.

Mr. James Caldwell, Mate of Captain MortonVessel, in like Manner killed, by two Balls entering his Back.

Mr. Samuel Maverick, a promising Youth, of 17 Years of Age, Son of the Widow Maverick, and an apprentice to Mr. Greenwood, Ivory Turner, mortally wounded, a Ball went through his Belly, and was cut out at his Back: He died the next Morning.

A Lad, named Christopher Monk, about 17 Years of Age, an apprentice to Mr. Walker, Shipwright; wounded, a Ball entered his Back, about 4 Inches above the Left Kidney, near the Spine, and was cut out of the Breast, on the same Side; apprehended he will die.

A Lad, named John Clark, about 17 Years of Age, whose Parents live at Medford, and an Apprentice to Captain Samuel Howard of this Town; wounded, a Ball entered just above his Groin, and came out at his Hip, on the opposite Side; apprehended he will die.

Mr. Edward Payne, of this Town, Merchant, standing at his Entry Door, received a Ball in his Arm, which shattered some of the Bones.

Mr. John Green, Taylor, coming up Leverett Lane, received a Ball just under his Hip, and lodged in the under Part of his Thigh, which was extracted.

Mr. Robert Patterson, a Seafaring Man, who was the Person that had his Trousers shot through in Richardson Affair, wounded; a Ball went through his Right Arm, and he suffered great Loss of Blood.

Mr. Patrick Carr, about 30 Years of Age, who worked with Mr. Field, Leather Breeches Maker in Queen street, wounded; a Ball entered near his Hip, and went out at his Side.

A Lad, named David Parker, an apprentice to Mr. Eddy, the Wheelwright, wounded; a Ball entered in his Thigh.

The People were immediately alarmed with the Report of this horrid Massacre, the Bells, were set a Ringing, and great Numbers soon assembled at the Place where this tragical Scene had been acted; their Feelings may be better conceived than expressed; and while some were taking Care of the Dead and Wounded, the Rest were in Consultation what to do in those dreadful Circumstances. 

But so little intimidated were they, notwithstanding their being within a few Yards of the Main Guard, and seeing the 29th Regiment under Arms, and drawn up in King street; that they kept their Station and appeared, as an Officer of Rank expressed it, ready to run upon the very Muzzles of their Muskets. 

The Lieutenant Governor soon came into the Town House, and there met some of his Majesty Council, and a Number of Civil Magistrates; a considerable Body of People immediately entered the Council chamber, and expressed themselves to his Honor with a Freedom and Warmth becoming the Occasion. He used his utmost Endeavors to pacify them, requesting that they would let the Matter subside for the Night, and promising to do all in his Power that Justice should be done, and the Law have its Course; Men of Influence and Weight with the People were not wanting on their Part to procure their Compliance with his Honor Request, by representing the horrible Consequences of a promiscuous and rash Engagement in the Night, and assuring them that such Measures should be entered upon in the Morning, as would be agreeable to their Dignity, and a more likely Way of obtaining the best Satisfaction for the Blood of their Fellow Townsmen. ---- The Inhabitants attended to these Suggestions, and the Regiment under Arms being ordered to their Barracks, which was insisted upon by the People, they then separated, and returned to their Dwellings by One o'clock. At 3 o'clock Captain Preston was committed, as were the Soldiers who fired, a few Hours after him.

Tuesday Morning presented a most shocking Scene, the Blood of our Fellow Citizens, running like Water through King street, and the Merchants Exchange, the principal Spot of the Military Parade for about 18 Months past. Our Blood might also be tracked up to the Head of Long Lane, and through divers other Streets and Passages.

At 11 o'Clock the Inhabitants met at Faneuil Hall, and after some animated Speeches becoming the Occasion, they chose a Committee of 15 respectable Gentlemen to wait upon the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to request of him to issue his Orders for the immediate Removal of the Troops.

The Message was in these Words.


THAT it is the unanimous Opinion of this Meeting, that the Inhabitants and Soldiery can no longer live together in Safety; that nothing can rationally be expected to restore the Peace of the Town, and prevent further Blood and Carnage, but the immediate Removal of the Troops; and that we therefore most fervently pray his Honour that his Power and Influence may be exerted for their instant Removal.

His Honour Reply, which was laid before the Town, then adjourned to the Old South Meeting House, was as follows,

Gentlemen,

I am extremely sorry for the unhappy Differences between the Inhabitants and Troops, and especially for the Action of the last Evening, and I have exerted myself upon the Occasion, that a due Enquiry may be made, and that the Law may have its Course. I have in Council consulted with the Commanding Officers of the two Regiments who are in the Town. They have their Orders from the General at New York. It is not in my Power to countermand those Orders. The Council have desired that the two Regiments may be removed to the Castle. From the particular Concern which the 29th Regiment has had in your Differences, Col. Dalrymple, who is the commanding Officer of the Troops, has signified that the Regiment shall without Delay be placed in the Barracks at the Castle, until he can send to the General, and receive his further Orders concerning both the Regiments, and that the Main Guard shall be removed, and 14th Regiment so disposed, and laid under such Restraint, that all Occasion of future Disturbances may be prevented.

The foregoing Reply having been read, and fully considered --- the Question was put, Whether the Report be satisfactory? Passed in the Negative (only 1 Dissentient) out of upwards of 4000 Voters.

It was then moved and voted, John Hancock, Esq; Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. William Molineux, William Philips, Esq; Dr. Joseph Warren, Joshua Henshaw, Esq; and Samuel Pemberton, Esq; be a Committee to wait on his Honor the Lieut. Governor, and inform him, that it is the unanimous Opinion of this Meeting, that the Reply made to a Vote of the Inhabitants presented his Honor in the Morning, is by no Means satisfactory; and that nothing less will satisfy, than a total and immediately Removal of all the Troops.

The Committee having waited upon the Lieut. Governor, agreeable to the foregoing Vote, laid before the Inhabitants the following Vote of Council, received from his Honor.

His Honor the Lieut. Governor laid before the Board a Vote of the Town of Boston, passed this Afternoon, and then addressed the Board as follows.


Gentlemen of the Council,

I lay before you a Vote of the Town of Boston, which I have just now received from them, and I now ask your Advice what you judge necessary to be done upon it.

The Council thereupon expressed themselves to be unanimously of Opinion, it was absolutely necessary for his Majesty Service, the good Order of the Town, and the Peace of the Province, that the Troops should be immediately removed out of the Town of Boston, and thereupon advised his Honor to communicate this Advice of the Council to Col. Dalrymple, and to pray that he would order the Troops down to Castle William." The Committee also informed the Town, that Col. Dalrymple, after having seen the vote of Council, said to the Committee,  That he now gave his Word of Honor that he would begin his Preparations in the Morning, and that there should be no unnecessary Delay until the whole of the two Regiments were removed to the Castle.

Upon the above Report being read, the Inhabitants could not avoid expressing the high Satisfaction it afforded them.

After Measures were taken for the Security of the Town in the Night, by a strong Military Watch, the Meeting was dissolved.

The 29th Regiment have already left us, and the 14th Regiment are following them, so that we expect the Town will soon be clear of all the Troops. The Wisdom and true Policy of his Majesty Council, and Col. Dalrymple the Commander, appear in this Measure. Two Regiments in the midst of this populous City; and the Inhabitants justly incensed: Those of the neighboring Towns actually under Arms upon the first Report of the Massacre, and the Signal only wanting to bring, in a few Hours, to the Gates of this City, many Thousands of our brave Brethren in the Country, deeply affected with our Distresses, and to whom we are greatly obliged on this Occasion --- No one knows where this would have ended, and what important Consequences even to the whole British Empire might have followed, which our Moderation and Loyalty upon so trying an Occasion, and our Faith in the Commander Assurances, have happily prevented.

Last Thursday, agreeable to a general Request of the Inhabitants, and by the Consent of Parents and Friends, were carried to their Grave in Succession, the Bodies of Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, and Crispus Attucks, the unhappy Victims who fell in the bloody Massacre of the Monday Evening preceding!

On this Occasion most of the Shops in Town were shut, all the Bells were ordered to toll a solemn Peal, as were also those in the neighboring Towns of Charlestown, Roxbury, &c. The Procession began to move between the Hours of 4 and 5 in the Afternoon; two of the unfortunate Sufferers, viz. Messieurs James Caldwell, and Crispus Attucks, who were Strangers, borne from Faneuil Hall, attended by a numerous Train of Persons of all Ranks; and the other two, viz. Mr. Samuel Gray, from the House of Mr. Benjamin Gray (his Brother) on the North Side the Exchange, and Mr. Maverick, from the House of his distressed Mother, Mrs. Mary Maverick, in Union street, each followed by their respective Relations and Friends: The several Hearses forming a Junction in King street, the Theatre of that inhuman Tragedy! proceeded from thence through the Main street, lengthened by an immense Concourse of People, so numerous as to be obliged to follow in Ranks of six, and brought up by a long Train of Carriages, belonging to the principal Gentry of the Town. The Bodies were deposited in one Vault in the middle Burying ground: The aggravated Circumstances of their Death, the Distress and Sorrow visible in every Countenance, together with the peculiar Solemnity with which the whole funeral was conducted, surpass Description.

A Military Watch has been kept every Night at the Town House and Prison, in which many of the most respectable Gentlemen of the Town have appeared as the common Soldiers, and Night after Night have given their Attendance.

A Servant Boy of one Manwaring, the Tide waiter from Quebec, is now in Goal, having deposed that himself, by the Order and Encouragement of his Superiors, had discharged a Musket several Times from one of the Windows of the House in King street, hired by the Commissioners and Custom House Officers to do their Business in; more than one other Person swore upon Oath, that they apprehended several Discharges came from that Quarter.

 It is not improbable that we may soon be able to account for the Assassination of Mr. Otis some Time past; the Message by Wilmot, who came from the same House to the infamous Richardson, before his firing the Gun which killed young Snider, and to open up such a Scene of Villainy, acted by a dirty Banditti, as must astonish the Public.

It is supposed there must have been a greater Number of People from Town and Country at the Funeral of those who were massacred by the Soldiers, than were ever together on this Continent on any Occasion.

A more dreadful Tragedy has been acted by the Soldiery in King street, Boston, New England, than was some time since exhibited in St. George Field, London, in Old England, which may serve instead of Beacons for both Countries.

Had those worthy Patriots, not only represented by Bernard and the Commissioners as a Faction, but as aiming at making a Separation between Britain and the Colonies, had any Thing else in Contemplation than the Preservation of our Rights, and bringing Things back to their old Foundation --- What an Opening has been given them?

Among other Matters in the Warrant for the annual Town Meeting this Day, is the following Clause, viz. "Whether the town will take any Measures that a public Monument may be erected on the Spot where the late tragically Scene was acted, as a Memento to Posterity, of that horrid Massacre, and the destructive Consequences of Military Troops being quartered in a well regulated City."

Boston Goal, Monday, 12th March, 1770.

Messieurs EDES and GILL,

PERMIT me, through the Channel of your Paper, to return my Thanks in the most public Manner to the Inhabitants in general of this Town --- who throwing aside all Party and Prejudice, have, with the utmost Humanity and Freedom, step forth Advocates for Truth, in Defense of my injured Innocence, in the late unhappy Affair that happened on Monday Night last: And to assure them, that I shall ever have the highest Sense of the Justice they have done me, which will be ever gratefully remembered, by

Their much obliged, and most obedient humble Servant,


THOMAS PRESTON.


Extract of a Letter from London, Dec. 1769.

"Bernard was at Court last week, and very little attended to; and I am told, attends the doors of the Great frequently, without admission."


Sir,

Governor of Massachusetts Bay, begins to cry peccavi; and he now makes no scruple publicly to declare, that the acts of violence which have been attempted to be perpetrated at Boston, under his administration there, were entirely against the bent of his natural disposition, as much as they were contrary to the fundamental laws of the colony over which he presided; and that if he deserves blame, other people ought to be brought to account for his conduct. In short, it is too evident, that arbitrary rule is the determined principle of the present alarming era in this kingdom, and nothing but a steady perseverance in the people to vindicate their just rights, can prevent them from falling under the most abject slavery. (London Gazetteer, Nov. 21.)


Research Links

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    Nathaniel Gorham

    Arthur St. Clair

    Cyrus Griffin

      

    Constitution of 1787
    U.S. Presidents

    George Washington 

    John Adams
    Federalist Party


    Thomas Jefferson
    Republican* Party

    James Madison 
    Republican* Party

    James Monroe
    Republican* Party

    John Quincy Adams
    Republican* Party
    Whig Party

    Andrew Jackson
    Republican* Party
    Democratic Party


    Martin Van Buren
    Democratic Party

    William H. Harrison
    Whig Party

    John Tyler
    Whig Party

    James K. Polk
    Democratic Party

    David Atchison**
    Democratic Party

    Zachary Taylor
    Whig Party

    Millard Fillmore
    Whig Party

    Franklin Pierce
    Democratic Party

    James Buchanan
    Democratic Party


    Abraham Lincoln 
    Republican Party

    Jefferson Davis***
    Democratic Party

    Andrew Johnson
    Republican Party

    Ulysses S. Grant 
    Republican Party

    Rutherford B. Hayes
    Republican Party

    James A. Garfield
    Republican Party

    Chester Arthur 
    Republican Party

    Grover Cleveland
    Democratic Party

    Benjamin Harrison
    Republican Party

    Grover Cleveland 
    Democratic Party

    William McKinley
    Republican Party

    Theodore Roosevelt
    Republican Party

    William H. Taft 
    Republican Party

    Woodrow Wilson
    Democratic Party

    Warren G. Harding 
    Republican Party

    Calvin Coolidge
    Republican Party

    Herbert C. Hoover
    Republican Party

    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Democratic Party

    Harry S. Truman
    Democratic Party

    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Republican Party

    John F. Kennedy
    Democratic Party

    Lyndon B. Johnson 
    Democratic Party 

    Richard M. Nixon 
    Republican Party

    Gerald R. Ford 
    Republican Party

    James Earl Carter, Jr. 
    Democratic Party

    Ronald Wilson Reagan 
    Republican Party

    George H. W. Bush
    Republican Party 

    William Jefferson Clinton
    Democratic Party

    George W. Bush 
    Republican Party

    Barack H. Obama
    Democratic Party

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    Norwich, CT

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    Congress Society


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