Boston Massacre Research Paper

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On the evening of March 5th, 1770 on the cold streets of Boston, a group of British soldiers gunned down a crowd gathered in protest. What started as a group of young men harassing a guard would quickly escalate into what would later be referred to as the Boston Massacre as well as serve as fuel for the growing anger of the colonists towards Britain. This paper will analyze two accounts of this event. One is of a civilian observer by the name of William Wyatt whose account, while short, is to the point. The other is that of Captain Thomas Preston, the commanding officer of the soldiers involved who gives a much more dramatic description of the event. Both sides agree on certain elements of the massacre, but yet they still have completely different interpretations on others, such as who actually gave the command to open fire. Where Wyatt and Preston both agree is rather limited in terms of the whole story. Both initially believed that that the bells that sounded while the riot was occurring meant there was a fire in the city and both learned around the same time that it was in fact a warning of a protest. They also agree that the crowd …show more content…

In Wyatt’s account the crowd, although rowdy, was still in a relatively nonviolent state. While they were brandishing various tools and weapons and goading the troops with insults and threats, they still maintained a distance.(Wyatt, 166) Preston on the other hand that the crowd was actually advancing on the troops and even beginning to attempt to knock away their muskets.(Preston, 168) Preston also uses much more colorful language to describe the attitude of the protesters. Where Wyatt just described the crowd as angry but somewhat controlled, Preston describes the language being used as extremely violent with examples such as, “...fire if you dare, G-d damn you, fire and be damned…”(Preston,

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