The Boston Massacre: What Really Happened?
We all know the story of the Boston Massacre; British troops fired into a group of colonists and killed five people, deeming it the start of the American Revolution. However, the story most people are not aware of are the reason behind the shooting and the events that led up to what is now known as the “massacre”. This topic is one of the most controversial moments in the American Revolution. Why were shots fired? Better yet, why were there weapons drawn on the colonists in the first place? And who was truly at fault for this “massacre”? Was it truly the British troops? Or was it in fact the colonists? The fate of one man’s life, Captain Thomas Preston, and his soldiers depended on the truth from the former questions. Through this essay, evidence will be looked at by the prosecution’s and defendant’s witnesses in the trial of Captain Preston and his soldiers in hopes to understand what truly happened on the night of March 5th, 1770. The problem that arises from this case is whether the officer, Captain Thomas Preston, had actually given the order to fire into the colonists, and should he be charged with the murder of the killed colonists. One man, Richard Palmes, testified for Captain Preston claiming that he was standing right next to the Captain before the firing. He had asked the Captain if his soldiers’ guns were loaded and he confirmed that they were. When Palmes asked if he had any intent to “fire on the Inhabitants, [Preston] said by no means,” (Discovering the American Past, Palmes, pg. 94). Palmes explains that he saw ice strike one of the soldiers and the word ‘fire!’ was shouted; that is the moment when the first gun was fired, and the other soldiers followed in suit. When questioned, Palmes answered that he did not know who gave the orders to fire. Palmes’ testimony was followed by others that aided Captain Thomas Preston’s case. Matthew Murray, another colonist, testified that he had “heard no order...
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