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The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre was an altercation that took place in Boston, Massachusetts on March 5th, 1770. It led to the loss of five lives but also to the idea of American independence at the time.

Read on to learn more about this deadly, unplanned event between American colonists and British soldiers and the important role it played in our country’s independence.

The Event

Private Hugh White was the only British soldier guarding the Custom House on King Street during the cold, snowy night of March 5th, 1770. Some apprentices began joking with Private White which led him to strike one of the young men on the head with his musket. This quickly caused an uproar of colonists that surrounded Private White and threw stones, snowballs and ice at him.

Private White called for help and was joined by eight British Soldiers, as well as Captain Thomas Preston. City bells began to ring — causing most Bostonians to assume there was a fire in the city. As you can imagine, commotion quickly intensified. It’s said that someone eventually shouted the word “fire” and as a result, one of the British Soldiers fired their musket.  This led the other British soldiers to fire their guns in turn — killing five colonists.

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The deaths included:

  • Samuel Gray
  • Samuel Maverick
  • Crispus Attucks
  • James Caldwell
  • Patrick Carr

Private White commented about the Boston Massacre and said: “None of them was a hero. The victims were troublemakers who got more than they deserved. The soldiers were professionals…who shouldn’t have panicked. The whole thing shouldn’t have happened.”

Boston Massacre Memorial in Boston
Boston Massacre Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts – sourced by commons.wikimedia.org

The Aftermath

The Boston Massacre caused many American colonists to have negative views towards the British — which eventually led to the American Revolution. Although it is unclear who was completely in the wrong, we do know that the five men who were killed during the Boston Massacre did not die in vain. Their resilient spirit forever changed history and impacts the lives of independent Americans to this day.


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