On June 29, 1767, the British Parliament passed a series of taxes in the American colonies to recoup their losses from a costly war with France and to reestablish control over the colonies. These taxes called The Townshend Acts imposed taxes on common products imported to the colonies like paper, glass, and tea. Colonists protested these unfair taxes citing the British were enacting taxation without representation. Boston, Massachusetts led by men like Samuel Adams organized the protests.
British troops arrived in Boston in October, 1768 to squelch the protests and maintain order. The troops were considered invaders and taunted with name calling, spitting, and fighting. Bostonians kept the soldiers from carrying out their duties. Tension mounted. In March, 1770, the British sent more troops. The redcoats, led by Captain Thomas Preston, were met with a crowd chanting “Fire, and be damned”. Captain Preston was unable to disperse the crowds. He ordered the troops not to fire, but they probably didn’t hear and opened fire on the crowd killing five men.
Captain Preston was tried eight months later for murder in a Boston courtroom. He was defended by revolutionaries John Adams and Robert Auchmuty and acquitted. One reason he was acquitted was because of a deathbed account of one of the witnesses that the soldiers were acting in self-defense. Eight soldiers were also tried. Six were acquitted. Two were found guilty of manslaughter because of overwhelming proof that they fired into the crowd. They were branded on their thumbs with the letter M and released to return to their units.
The Boston public took the verdicts in good order. There were letters expressing outrage in the local newspapers, the work of Sam Adams and other disappointed agitators, but no public demonstrations. This calm reflected the feelings of many that mob action had gotten out of hand and that British soldiers, hated as they were, could not be blamed for defending themselves.
After the massacre, the Townshend Acts were partially repealed and a period of calm remain until the Tea Act of 1773 led to the Boston Tea Party.
Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and was a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. Her Novel, Alice’s Notions and her novellas Resurrection of Hope and A Christmas Promise are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.