On March 5, 1770, a group of Patriots taunted a British sentry outside of the Customs House in Boston. This taunting was an act of protest against the soldiers whom the King had sent from England to occupy Boston. In response, British troops fixed bayonets and stood guard with the sentry. Patriots began throwing snowballs at the troops and as one hit Private Hugh Montgomery, he shot his rifle. The rest of the British soldiers began firing and killed 5 Patriots. The Patriots coined this event as ”The Boston Massacre” to rally support for the Patriot cause. Though none of the British soldiers were seriously punished for the incident, many troops were withdrawn from the city and several taxes were lifted.
“On the evening of the 5th, on hearing the bells ring, he supposed there was fire, but on going out he was informed there was not any fire, but a riot…”—Edward Payne
“As soon as the snow balls were thrown, and a club, a soldier fired. I heard the club strike upon the Gun and the corner man next the lane said fire and immediately fired.”—William Sawyer
John Adams and Josiah Quincy actually volunteered to defend the British soldiers in court to show the impartiality of colonial courts.
Crispus Attucks, of Wampanoag and African descent, is popularly believed to have been the first to fall at the Boston Massacre.
Seven of the British soldiers from that day were acquitted, while two were found guilty of manslaughter—for which they were branded on the hand and released.
Every year on March 5th, the Boston Massacre is reenacted outside of the Old State House.