Who was at fault for the Boston Massacre?

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Historians disagree about who was at fault for the Boston Massacre. On March 5, 1770, growing tensions between the Americans and the British soldiers reached a breaking point. A crowd of Americans surrounded a small group of British soldiers and began hurling insults, snowballs, and--eventually--rocks. As the crowd grew to as many as 400 people, the soldiers became nervous. They loaded their rifles, but the crowd was not dissuaded. One American--Crispus Attucks--knocked down a soldier, after which the British fired into the crowd. Five Americans were killed, including Attucks, and six others were wounded.

Clearly, neither side behaved entirely uprightly; both bear some of the blame for the events that transpired. The Americans claimed the British were at fault because they overreacted, unjustly killing five Americans. They used the "massacre" as a propaganda tool to spark dissent in the colonies. However, the British soldiers--heavily outnumbered--likely feared for their lives; while not excusable, their actions are at least understandable. Moreover, the Americans were the first to physically assault the British.

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