The Boston Massacre Debate
The Boston Massacre Debate
You be the Judge!
by Lynne
Avdellas

Students will be able to identify and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of an event in United States history. (US1.1a) They will also be able to interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives.


Historical Background

In the early 1760s tension began to rise between the colonists and those remaining loyal to the British. This occurred as a result of several actions by the British. The Proclamation of 1763 that restricted movement of the colonists was resented. The colonists also did not like the fact that the British were controlling the colonial legislatures and that they did not have representation in Parliament. They also resented the power of colonial governors and the taxes that were levied on the m to offset the cost of the French and Indian War. The British sent soldiers to the colonies to keep order, especially to Massachusetts where there had been a lot of unrest. The soldiers were sent to help with the enforcement of the Townshend Acts of 1767. In 1768, there were 4,000 British troops in Boston when the population of Boston was only 20,000 at that time.

One night, on March 5, 1770 this tension ended up in an incident now called “The Boston Massacre”. There are numerous accounts of what happened that night. As a result of the incident, five civilians died. Three died that night and two others died later. The people who died were: Crispus Attucks, an African American, Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr. Some say the incident was a British response to a mob rioting while other contend the soldiers attacked the colonists who were just minding their own business. The event was popularized after Paul Revere made an engraving entitled “The Bloody Massacre in King Street”. He used it as propaganda to capitalize on colonial resentment of the British. Other historical accounts and the trial itself portray a different depiction of the events. Of the nine British regulars charged during the two Boston Massacre trials, two were found guilty and Preston and six other were acquitted.

By using various primary sources in an interactive setting, the students will use the historical thinking skills of sourcing, close reading, contextualization, and corroborating to understand different historical perspectives of a specific event.



Boston Massacre Debate- Graphic Organizer

4 Images of the Boston Massacre

Article from the Boston Gazette

Article from the London Chronicle

‚ÄčBoston Massacre Testimonies SWAY

7 Different Accounts of the Boston Massacre