Multiple Perspectives: Primary Source Activity
Directions: On the night of March 5, 1770, several Boston residents were shot and killed by
British soldiers in what became known as the Boston Massacre. What follows are several images and first-hand accounts from eyewitness to and participants in the event. Following each primary source are questions to help you examine and interpret the information.
Primary source #1: Report of the Committee of the Town of Boston (patriot viewpoint)
On Friday, the 2d instant, a quarrel arose between some soldiers of the 29th, and the ropemakers journeymen and apprentices, which was carried to that length, as to become dangerous to the lives of…show more content… . . fire . . . At this time I was between the soldiers and the mob, parleying with and endeavoring all in my power to persuade them to retire peacefully, but to no purpose. Is this a different perspective? Let’s see . . .
1. At 9:00 at night, why were the bells ringing in Boston? Was it some sort of signal?
2. The event took place near a customs house. Why might this be important information to consider? 3. From Captain Preston’s point of view, what was the intent of this unruly crowd?
4. How did Captain Preston attempt to settle this matter?
Primary source #4: Continuing with Captain Preston’s recollection of this event (provides an entirely different perspective on the events of March 5, 1770)
They [the mob] advanced to the points of the bayonets, struck some of them and even the muzzles [the front of the muskets] of the pieces, and seemed to be endeavoring to close with the soldiers . . . some well behaved persons asked me if the guns were charged [loaded] and I replied yes . . . they then asked if I intended to order the men to fire. I answered no, by no means, observing to them that I was advanced before the muzzles of the men’s pieces [he was standing in front of their guns] and must fall a sacrifice if they fired; and my giving the word fire under those circumstances