On the fifth of March, 1770, a patriot mob began to harass a British sentry outside the Custom House on King Street in Boston, Massachusetts. As the harassment escalated, Captain Thomas Preston was called for backup. During the confrontation, among the shouts and yelling, there were cries for the squad to “fire!”.
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The squad responded to this command and ended up killing several colonists. A black sailor names Crispus Attucks, ropemaker Samuel Gray, mariner James Caldwell were instantly killed. Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr were mortally wounded and would die later. The “Massacre”, as it was named later, led to a concerted effort by resistance leaders to inspire the “ire of citizenry”. Speeches, demonstrations, and propagandistic images fueled the growing flames of discontent towards the monarchy. In the end, this “massacre” and the anger resulting from it were integral in the march towards the eventual Revolutionary war.
Tensions in Boston, 1770, were high. During this time, over two thousand British soldiers were occupying the city of Boston, which was populated by by over sixteen thousand colonists. The soldiers were present in order to enforce Britain’s laws, which the colonists were rebelling against. They found the taxes repressive and rallied over the slogan “no taxation without representation”. Skirmishes, a fight between small bodies of troops, especially advanced or outlying detachments of opposing armies, between British and soldiers became very common. They also became popular between patriots, who were loyal to the colonies, and loyalists, who were loyal to Britain. In order to protest these taxes, patriots vandalized stores that sold British goods and intimidated their customers.
On February 22, a group of protesters of patriots attacked a store owned by loyalists. A customs officer, Ebenezer Richardson, made an attempt to break up the riot. He fired out his window and onto the crowd below. His gunfire struck and killed Christopher Seider, an eleven year-old boy, who was in the crowd. This attack further enrage patriots and protesters, and helped escalate their protests. Shortly after this event, another fight broke out between local workers and British soldiers. No serious injuries resulted from it, but it helped set up the violence that was yet to come.
On the fifth of March, 1770, Private Hugh White was guarding the Custom House on King Street. The Custom House was containing the King’s money. Shortly after White was stationed at his post, a group of colonists joined him, and threatened violence. The violence was much more aggravated than previous encounters, due to recent events leading up to the riot. After a short amount of violent barating from the colonists, White fought back and struck one of the colonists with his bayonet. In response to this, protesters threw snowballs, ice, and stones at him. Bells rung through the street,
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