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How many civilians died in the Boston Massacre?

March 5th

massacreMarch 5, 1770 — Five civilians died during the outbreak of violence that occurred today in Boston — a battle that historians consider to be the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

The skirmish started as a street fight between a patriot mob throwing snowballs, stones, and sticks at a squad of British soldiers. A riot ensued after 50 citizens attacked a British sentinel. British officer Captain Thomas Preston called in additional soldiers, who were also attacked.

Eventually, the British soldiers fired into the mob, killing 3 on the spot — including a black sailor named Crispus Attucks, ropemaker Samuel Gray, and a mariner named James Caldwell. Eight others were wounded and two died later (Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr).

A town meeting was called demanding the removal of the British and the trial of Captain Preston and his men for murder. At the trial, John Adams and Josiah Quincy II defended the British, which led to their acquittal and release. Samuel Quincy and Robert Treat Paine were the attorneys for the prosecution.

Two of the British soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter, and soon after the Royal Governor evacuated the occupying army from the town of Boston. This led to armed rebellion throughout the colonies.

Words of Wisdom

Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.

— Joseph Warren, American doctor who played a leading role in American Patriot organizations in Boston in the early days of the American Revolution, eventually serving as president of the revolutionary Massachusetts Provincial Congress (June 11, 1741 – June 17, 1775)

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