Literature Study GuidesDefense Of The Boston Massacre Soldiers

Defense of the Boston Massacre Soldiers | Study Guide

John Adams

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Course Hero. "Defense of the Boston Massacre Soldiers Study Guide." Course Hero. 20 Dec. 2019. Web. 3 Dec. 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Defense-of-the-Boston-Massacre-Soldiers/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, December 20). Defense of the Boston Massacre Soldiers Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Defense-of-the-Boston-Massacre-Soldiers/

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Course Hero. "Defense of the Boston Massacre Soldiers Study Guide." December 20, 2019. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Defense-of-the-Boston-Massacre-Soldiers/.

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Course Hero, "Defense of the Boston Massacre Soldiers Study Guide," December 20, 2019, accessed December 3, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Defense-of-the-Boston-Massacre-Soldiers/.

Overview

Author

John Adams

Year Delivered

1770

Type

Primary Source

Genre

Speech

At a Glance

  • On March 5, 1770, an outraged mob of colonists swarmed through the streets of Boston. The colonists were angry about treatment by the British Crown, including the imposition of new taxes.
  • Fearing the angry mob, a group of British soldiers fired into a crowd, killing five and wounding several others.
  • This was one of several events that served as a prelude to the American Revolution (1775–83). Americans who protested British actions in Boston labeled this particular event the Boston Massacre.
  • The soldiers were charged with murder, a crime that carried the death penalty.
  • Massachusetts lawyer John Adams (1735–1826)—who was part of the anti-British movement—gave a spirited defense of the soldiers.
  • Adams argued that the situation leading to the shooting was chaotic and confusing, making a charge of murder unjust.
  • He emphasized the difference between murder and manslaughter, or killing without malicious forethought.
  • The jury acquitted Captain Thomas Preston and six of the eight soldiers, finding two guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
  • Adams's defense enhanced his reputation as a skilled lawyer and man of principle. The massacre, however, fueled further anti-British feeling and helped pave the way for the outbreak of the American Revolution five years later.

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