Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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March 5th
The Boston Massacre
Boston, Massachusetts, seethed with resentment in 1770. London had imposed taxes on the colonists even though they had no voice in Parliament, and the king had sent troops to Boston to keep an eye on the unruly Americans.

On the night of March 5, a crowd began to taunt some British guards at the royal Customs House, brandishing clubs and calling them “lobsters.” The soldiers fixed bayonets onto their muskets, and the mob responded by pelting them with trash, oyster shells, and snowballs. With their backs to the Customs House, and feeling hemmed in, the frightened soldiers opened fire on the crowd. When the smoke cleared, five colonists lay dead or dying.

News of the “Boston Massacre” raced through the colonies. Boston’s Paul Revere, a silversmith, soon engraved a powerful – but exaggerated – print that depicted the killings as a slaughter. Samuel Adams distributed the image as part of his battle cry for American liberty.

Samuel’s cousin, John Adams, was asked to defend the soldiers at trial, a job no one else wanted. Determined to prove that every man had a right to a fair trial in an American courtroom, Adams took the case, a move that aroused “a clamor and popular suspicions and prejudices” against him. Adams argued that the unruly colonists had provoked the soldiers, and that hanging the redcoats would disgrace Massachusetts’s name in history. The jury found six of eight accused soldiers not guilty and convicted two of manslaughter, for which, as punishment, they were branded on their thumbs.

John Adams’s show of fairness in the trial eventually won him much respect. He later called it “one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.”

American History Parade
British soldiers fire on colonists in what becomes known as the Boston Massacre.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a “bank holiday,” closing U.S. banks for four days to keep panicked depositors from withdrawing all their money.

In a speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill declares that an “Iron Curtain” has fallen across Eastern Europe, trapping millions behind it in Communist states.

Country music star Patsy Cline dies in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb

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