Paul Revere's engraving of the Boston Massacre.
Paul Revere, ''The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770.'' Boston, 1770.

Boston Massacre

March 5, 1770

The Boston Massacre was an incident in which British regulars fired into a group of Bostonians who were harassing them. It is generally considered one of the first acts of violence of the American Revolution.


The Boston Massacre was a deadly altercation between British soldiers and a Boston mob that occurred on March 5, 1770. It was the culmination of resentment by the Boston citizenry toward British troops that Parliament had deployed in 1768 to enforce the Townshend Acts of 1767.

The incident began when a small group of Bostonians began harassing a lone British sentry guarding the Customs House. When a crowd assembled and became more hostile, British reinforcements fired their muskets, killing five men and wounding six others. The first person killed was Crispus Attucks. The others were: Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, and Patrick Carr.

Arrested, tried for murder, and ably defended by John Adams, all of the soldiers were acquitted of the murder charges. Two soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter, branded on the hand, and released.

Although the incident predated the actual beginning of the American Revolution by five years, it was a pivotal event in American history, because propagandists for freedom used it to muster anti-British feelings throughout the colonies.


Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Boston Massacre
  • Coverage March 5, 1770
  • Author
  • Keywords boston massacre
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date November 29, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 16, 2021
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