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uprising on king street: the boston massacre


The Seven Years War with France left Britain 133 million pounds in debt. To boast their economy, Parliament enacted a series of taxes on the American colonies that were despised by Boston’s inhabitants. British troops sent to Boston in 1770 further burdened an aggrieved populace. On March 5, what started as a group of boys taunting the guard, quickly escalated into a riot as Bostonians hurled sticks and snowballs at the soldiers. Led by Captain Preston, British soldiers from the 29th Regiment rushed to the scene. Chaos ensued, as soldiers shot and killed four men, and wounded six more. Preston and his soldiers were arrested for murder. Ignoring public sentiment, John Adams defended Preston and the soldiers at trial. Preston was acquitted, as were six of his men in a separate trial. Two soldiers were convicted of manslaughter. The Boston Massacre became a precipitating event to the American Revolution.

What are the responsibilities of a military force sent to occupy a foreign land?

Is violence ever necessary to keep the peace?

What role does class play in the administration of justice?

  • Military occupation

  • Taxation without representation

  • Right to counsel

  • Rule of law

  • Witness bias

  • Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

historical connections
  • Seven Years War

  • Sugar Act

  • Quartering Act

  • Townshend Revenue Act

  • Sons of Liberty

  • Boston Massacre

  • King’s Riot Act

  • Common Law

  • Manslaughter

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