The Boston Massacre

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Why Was The Boston Massacre Important

Describe and explain the importance of the Boston Massacre.

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On March 5, 1770, what started as an exchange of insults between a British Private and a wig-maker's apprentice escalated into extreme violence. After Private John White struck Edward Garrick on the side of the head with a musket, a crowd began to form around Private White, antagonizing him. White was eventually relieved by six other privates. The crowd continued to press around the soldiers until tensions mounted to the point of one of them firing, causing the rest to shoot into the crowd.

The Boston Massacre was one of the most important events leading up to the war. It was significant in that it played a huge role in turning colonial sentiment against King George III and the authority of British Parliament. Though five years passed between the massacre and outright revolution, John Adams would write that "the foundation of American independence was laid" on that evening.

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The Boston Massacre was a confrontation between Colonists and British soldiers.  On March 5, 1770, a collection of Colonists from different narratives gathered around the Customs House in Boston.  There were words exchanged, reflective of the hostility between Colonists and the British.  The group of Colonists began to throw bottles and snowballs at the growing number of British soldiers.  In turn, the British soldiers opened fire on the Colonists.  While it was not really a "massacre" in terms of slaughter, the event highlighted the emerging schism between Colonists and the British.

The Boston Massacre was significant on a couple of levels. Right or wrong, it helped to fill an unenviable narrative for the British.  The news of the Boston Massacre which was spread throughout the Colonies by Sam Adams' Committees of Correspondence.  This depiction recounted the event as the slaughter of innocents by a heartless British garrison.  It helped to enhance the growing calls for separation, or at the very least, reexamination of the relationship between the British and the Colonists.  The disproportionate use of force also fed this narrative.  The Colonists had bottles and snowballs.  The British used ammunition and weaponry that was not a proportionate response to the situation.  Additionally, the Boston Massacre was significant because it helped to galvanize a certain section of Colonial society against the British. From this point on, the confrontation between both sides would be more antagonistic, and less likely to be solved through discourse and peaceable means.  The growing discontent with the various acts passed against the Colonists became even more rancorous as news of the Boston Massacre spread, helping to enhance its significance in the steps leading to the American Revolution.

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