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  • True Crime

On March 5, 1770, here at the Old State House, Boston’s oldest surviving building, a squad of British soldiers came to support a sentry who was being harassed by a heckling, snowballing crowd. Tensions with the British were high in Boston, where 2,000 British soldiers occupied a city of only 16,000. During the altercation between soldiers and angry mob, a volley of shots was let loose. Three people were killed immediately with two dying later on. The British officer in charge was arrested for manslaughter along with eight of his men. Hoping to show colonial impartiality, John Adams volunteered to defend the men. Nearly all were acquitted, but two were found guilty of manslaughter and branded on the hand. Though the soldiers were acquitted, the event was sensationalized as a massacre and the above engraving by Paul Revere was circulated to help galvanize the colonial public to the Patriot cause.

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