Boston Massacre Was a Mere Incident

Hiller B. Zobel presents a different aspect of the known story of The Boston Massacre. He also included historical research to give more info on why it was caused, why it wasn’t stop, and supports of it. Zobel’s main purpose is to take away the myth, of what really happen on March 5th, 1770, to show it was a mere incident, instead of a pre meditated killing form the British. With that included he gives details on all the intolerable acts, all of which stirred up anger in Boston.

Also, the violence that was used by Boston’s radical elements to try to counter these acts. Also explains why the British soldiers were in Boston in the first place. Here starts off on explaining the events that happen before the massacre, such as the French and Indian War of which he stated “American enemies were the savages who threatened the western settlements, and thus, incidentally, the investments of the seaboard land speculators” (page 5).

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As well as the new royal representatives they received after the war such as, Francis Bernard “a roast beef of a man with influential connections, arrived in Boston on August 2, 1760” (page 6) and replacement of Chief Justice Stephen Sewall, Thomas Hutchinson “Hutchinson brought not merely a wide acquaintance with the ways of merchants, but a lifetime of thinking of public problems… Serving his countrymen… solution of those problems” (Page 10).

The purpose of this was a mere introduction, as well as a foreshadowing of what the British were going to start on. Chapters three through fifth-teen are all the events right before the Boston Massacre, such as the violence over the Sugar Act duties, and the Stamp Act duties in America. Information gathered about the Stamp Act was included “taxes of up to ?10 would have to be paid for pre-stamped paper…papers used in clearing ships from harbors, college diplomas, bonds, and deeds for land,…pamphlets, newspapers” (page 25).

The action of the Americans was also stated “in 1764, a rudimentary nonimportation association had been formed…a special type of violent nonviolence. Forbear the importation, or consumption, of English goods…to eat no lamb… forms The Stamp Act Congress”(Page 26). Another event was the Liberty Riot, which was explained in great detail “a mob attacked them with clubs, stones, and brickbats.

Harrison, badly battered about the chest managed to keep his legs and escape…Hallowell knocked to the ground and left there, covered in blood…mob then surrounded Hallowell’s house, breaking windows and trying to force an entry” (Page 75). Because of those events, and many others, it led the British to establish troops in Boston, which led to even more drastic occurrences such as the Quartering Act, and to be known as the Coffee House Brawl.

The Quartering Act was a law passed by the British government to were the American colonist need to house British soldiers “On August 31, troops from London, of which was led by Captain William Sheriff, were to head for Boston and to be in two regiments, one in the castle, and the other in town…if the town-based soldiers should be insulted and threatened, then the Castle regiment would move to town…Bernard and shirreff also worked out details of housing the new troops. (Page 89). The Quartering Act was an important factor towards the Boston Massacre due to the high rise of anger, which was expressed by the colonist “Words from the Boston Gazette cause Bernard to consider seriously for the first time the real possibility of a bloody opposition to the soldiers’ arrival…Benjamin Franklin said three years earlier about soldiers sent to America, that they will not find a rebellion; they may indeed make one. ”(Page 91).

After the troops have finally arrived, many troubles and incidents occurred, such as the Coffee House Brawl, which was a Brawl in a British coffee house against Sons Of Liberty member James Otis and British Commissioner John Robinson “About seven o’clock in the evening, carrying his new cane, Otis walked into the British Coffee House…Among the bystanders who watched Otis as he entered the main room were Captain Brabazon O’Hara, Captain Jeremiah French…But Otis was looking for the tall figure of Robinson” (Page 148).

His main purpose on why he gave so much information on all the events that occurred before the massacre was to basically show the ingredients put into the recipe of what became the Boston Massacre. Finally chapter sixteen is when the Boston Massacre occurred. He begins the chapter by talking about what occurred days before the Massacre which was a battle between civilians and soldiers in New York “The Boston Gazette had run what John Adams called a pompous account on February 19, trumpeting the citizens’ victory…Boston soldiers and raised exultations among some sorts of the inhabitants.

What had happened in New York could happen in Massachusetts” (Page 181). Adding this event to his book was a great attribute to his main argument and purpose of why the Boston Massacre, was not a massacre at all but a mere incident. Another great event added was a confrontation between a rope maker William Green, and a British solider Patrick Walker, at which Walker was looking for work, and Green offered him an embarrassing job “Soldier, do you want work? Asked Green. Yes, I do, faith, said Walker. Well, said Green, in a triumph of ready wit, then go and clean my shithouse.

Empty it yourself said walker. After more such exchanges…walker stormed off swearing he would have his revenge” (Page 182). This later turned into a little brawl against rope makers and the British soldiers “In a few moments he was back, reinforced by eight soldiers…the workers called for help. From other parts of the ropewalk, club-carrying assistance came then the soldiers were repelled…within fifth teen minutes, their number increased to near forty…The civilians thought soon outnumbered them and turned the battle and drove the soldiers out” (Page 182).

Like the battle in New York, this was very important to his main purpose and argument because those events led the British to be very up-tight and knowing “that the explosion must be near” (Page 183). When the massacred occurred on March 5, 1770 and the explosion of a mob and the British was occurring many words were being yelled at the British like “Fire! ”(Page 192), “strike at the root; there is the nest” (Page 192), “Damn you, you sons of bitches, fire” (Page 195), “You can’t kill us all” (Page 195).

The high intensity and the much added pressure put on the British, just enhance his main statement in the book that the British’s intentions were not planned and were just defending themselves. Captain Thomas Preston, plead to the mob over and over again “Shouting at the crowd, trying to convince it to disperse. For answer he got hoots, curses, and snowballs. ” (Page 196). This statement proves that in a way the British at least try to warn the mob to leave, which once again enhances his argument on it was an incident.

As the time passes more and more pressure from the mob develops “Physically as well as audibly, the crowd pressure increased. The soldiers were trembling, whether in fear or in rage…men kept daring the Redcoats to fire,…As the soldiers played or thrust with their bayonets, trying for breathing room, brief individual duels developed”(Page 196). Right before the shooting Theodore Bliss, “experience mob member” (Page 197) asked Preston “Are they going to fire? ” (Page 197) as Preston responds “They cannot fire without my orders…by no means we plan to fire” (Page 198).

This is the final, and most important statement that is added into his main argument of the Boston Massacre was just an incident. He concludes his book by giving a fine detail on the aftermath of the massacre and the trail that each British solider face through chapters seventeen and twenty. Despite the Massacre being a great event to lead the colonist to fight back against the British, and then leading America to be independent, you cannot disagree with Zobel’s argument.

The British troops were more than enough taunted, threatened, and confused on how to handle the downright insane and huge numbers of the mob. So the fact shots were fired is almost completely understandable that a British solider could have thought, to hear the orders to fire. I totally agree with Zobel’s argument on the Boston Massacre, on how it was not a mass killing, and evil works form the British, but just a huge incident, that became propaganda.

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Boston Massacre Was a Mere Incident. (2016, Dec 23). Retrieved from