« Stuff You Missed in History Class

SYMHC Classics: The Boston Massacre

2020-02-29 | 🔗

Today we revisit a 2013 episode about the Boston Massacre. That sounds like the slaughter of many innocents, but the reality is smaller and not nearly so one-sided. But there's a reason why we call it a massacre. And that reason is propaganda.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
The loser. Episode is brought to you by Maloney cookies work. Sometimes that longs in yoga class is just not in the cards, so maybe a cookie is peppered farm. Olano believes you should make some time for yourself once in a while. I know I have a particular space in my sewing room that I like to just take a few minutes. Every day I sit there. I think about things, it's kind of like meditation and munching at the same time being it that yummy beautiful cookie flavour, it makes it luxurious and delightful and I always feel recharge. Mulatto cookies are truly a treat worthy of your me time, their delicate and crispy, with luxuriously rich chocolate in the middle. You really want to keep these just for you remember to save something. For yourself, with peppered farm Olano high everyone, this is the reasoning, Sanchez and Eric Winter, and we have a public has called he said, Yeah the moment. A part of this thing, Can I have my name? Ok, so you,
I'm Eric winter. While interesting, we reply jazz called, he said, a daddy, it's about our conflicting personalities and our differences of opinion about everything guys. It's funny check it out. find he said a deal on that I heard radio app on Apple podcast, or wherever you get your PA gas. Happy Saturday. Everybody coming up on March. Fifth is the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of the Boston massacre and back in December of twenty thirteen. We talked about the Boston massacre at how Patriot propaganda shaped the way that it is remembered in the United States. Today toward the end of the episode we mentioned, the game meant for elementary and middle school kids about the massacre. The game does not seem to be online anymore, but the Massachusetts historical society still has a lot of primary sources on one of the things that we did want to know before. We put this episode out again as that in the years since,
originally air. There have been numerous really high profile incidence of law enforcement officers, firing on and killing unarmed people of color, and also of a militarized police response to protest. That also happened before this episode came out, but it's been a lot more widely covered in the years since then. So if we were recording episode today. That probably would have affected our approach to the topic and our demeanor and talking about it, which is a little jovial, because some aspects of this were ridiculous, so enjoy welcomed Does you missed in history class of production of Iheart Radios House of works?
hello and welcome to my past. I am Tracy, remove I'm calling for- and I think I may have been desensitized by living in today's world- spree killings and mass murders, because when I hear the word mass occurred, I think of something like a red wedding and game of Britain's Ray or maybe one of its real world inspirations, which was the one thousand six hundred and ninety two massacre of Glencoe, and that's when the soldiers under Archibald Campbell, who was the Earl of Argyle, watered thirty, eight members of the Mcdonald clan ceiling. Something with high volume and pretty aggressive wholesale killing. Basically undefended people yeah. So the word massacre, because it brings up way bloodier images than what real went down in our second most requested massacre topic, the first
being the massacre England go we have just mention, must the Boston massacre, which at the time was known as the bloody massacre in Kent and King Street and massacre. makes it sound as though it was the holes EL slaughter of a bunch of innocent bostonians. He were just standing around mining, their own business, but which is not true at all, was not at all like that, but there is definitely a reason why we call it the Boston massacre and
not the minor Boston, kerfuffle with a few unfortunate casualties and that reason as propaganda at what maybe we should start a facebook page to try to change it. So the Boston minor kerfuffle with a few unfortunate casualness so yeah that that's it we're gonna talk about today. What actually happened during the boss, the massacre, and why we call it a massacre today and not something else, so we're going to talk about the propaganda aspect, but first we need to put a little context into the situation. So, on June, twenty ninth of seventeen sixty seven, the british parliament, pass the towns in revenue ACT with the purpose of raising for one thousand pounds per year to quote defray the charge of the administration of Justice and the support of civil government. In other words, they needed to offset the british government's cost of running the colonies, and this put a tax on cell, really common items that were exported to the colonies from Britain. Here's the actual list. I find this most delightful,
for every hundred wait ever deploys of crown a plate, flint and white glass for shillings at eight pence forever. three hundred wait ever do poise of Rob led to shillings for three hundred wait every point of green glass, one shilling into pants Every hundred wait already poise of white led to shillings for every country wait. I would you boys of painters, colors, two shillings for every pound. Wait avenue points of tea, three pen, hence for every ream of paper usual called or known by the name of ATLAS. Fine, twelve shilling and every poise is basically the pounds and ounces wait system that many of us still you today and if you are familiar in any way with the? U S. On the subject of taxes, you can probably imagine how very popular this whole when the witches
It's all right, and on top of that, taxation of goods was already an extremely sore subject in the colonies. In one thousand, seven hundred and sixty five parliament had passed the stamp act, which was a tax on quote every skin or piece of vellum or parchment or sheet or piece of paper and paper and vellum for different uses were subject to different rate of tax. So the stamp ACT was supposed to fund the defense of the American Frontier and the colonies objected to the whole idea of using a tax to raise money rather than to regulate commerce and the colonies were very concerned about the president. At the set that you know, Britain could just stay here at attacks now that we are going to use to raise lots of money. This led to the colonists responding to the stamp ACT, protests and violence and consequently, parliament repealed it in one thousand seven hundred and sixty six, although and basically the same breath, it also passed
It was called the declaratory acts and there was more or less said a written can pass laws for the colonies in the colonies have to follow them and too bad. If you don't like it so just a couple of years behind the Stamp ACT, which was so very wildly popular of the Townshend ACT also went over poorly, so poorly. In fact that the british government had to send regiments of regulars to Boston just to keep the peace, customs officials are being harassed and threatened as a result of these taxes and the governor one in military help just to help restore order. So the regulars he became increasingly known as the redcoats started. Having on October. First of seventeen sixty eight, so you may recall from our recent episode on the Haitians than deploying troops, the colonies for Britain was an extremely long time consuming task so that as well I, even though it had been
quite awhile, since they act was passed. Many many months later, did the military show up to try to Tom things down and the people of Boston didn't not really like this. One bit on top of the principle of a military force, just showing up to make them behave themselves. Soldiers were also raising the competition for jobs because they would sometimes take on additional work in their off hours to supplement, income and they were willing to take less money because they also had their pay as a soldier. So consequently, the citizens of Boston greeted the redcoats with Time beers in a lot of fighting and spitting and all in all relationships between the troops and the city with extremely poorly for about eighteen months before the tensions really started to rise and march of one thousand seven hundred and seventy by this point, people were trying to get shopkeepers to stop selling imported products from Britain entirely and
oh vandalized stores that did carry british products. So, in the days after the massacre, a packet of military depositions was sent back to England, which describe the environment. This way from the british perspective, whoever has converse much with those who have been we have passed. It must know that the arrival of the king's troops at that town in seventeen sixty eight was exceedingly discussed full to all that part of the people who call themselves the sons of Liberty and the authority of the british parliament to pass the late acts for imposing duties upon certain articles of trade imported into Amerika and whose
They form a great majority of the people in that town, though, perhaps not of the persons of the best fortunes and most respectable characters in the place. Basically, the rabble are cranky bow was the british version of the story for sure, so, on March, fifth, seventeen. Seventy! That's when the Boston Masker take place. Captain John Gold Vince was walking down King Street, when the whig makers Apprentice, whose name was Edward Garrick hollered at him, that he had not paid for his wig captain Goldfinch just ignored him, and so Edward been repeated. This accusation to other passers by in a similarly hollering ashen, so Hugh White, who was the sentry on duty at the Customs House
heard this commotion any told Edward that the captain being a gentleman would of course pay for anything. He had bought Edward, however, disbelieved that there were any gentlemen among the red coats and he expressed that quite loudly and that prompted white to leave his post and strike Edward with his mother at which point the crowd, which had already started to gather in response to all of this yelling in the street started heckling and taunting white and he returned to his post loaded his weapon and called for the main guard at roughly the same time. There were crowds having similar altercations with the British at other points nearby in Boston, and there was a lot of hurling of insult, snowballs at the uniformed troops. Someone also rang a fire bell which prompted even more people to come out into the streets, and this whole giant crowd started to converge on the Customs House. John Adams later called this cry
I would quote a motley rabble of saucy boys negroes in new autos, irish tags and outlandish jack. Tars was kind of reality. Take that issue and all this commotion Captain Thomas Preston heard that people were planning to carry white off. his post and murder him, and perhaps while they were added, they were also going to rob the Customs House, so he decided to intervene and he brought seven men from the twenty ninth regiment to back him up. At that point, the crowded started, throwing snowballs, which sounds not so terrible but then also sticks, rocks oyster shells ouch and whatever else was at hand the soldiers arranged themselves in kind of half circle facing out to the crowd. So we were leaning on unreliable, almost two hundred and fifty year old, eyewitness testimony here, so it the little unclear exactly who did what caused the first shot to beef.
tired. We do know that a man named Christmas attics, who was carrying a club, approached the soldiers and grabbed one of their bayonets and that soldier, Hugh Montgomery, was knocked down when Montgomery got up. He fired at his musket kind of act, the general direction of the crowd and he shouted for others to fire. They did even ass. Captain Preston was yelling orders for them to hold their fire, and then there was general chaos and shooting and sort of a big mass. The melee malay is perfect were afraid, and that went on with some confusion until the dust settled. three men died at seeing these were Christmas, attics, Samuel Gray and James Caldwell. Christmas attics was the son of an african man and in a native american woman he was the first to fall after being shot twice in the chest
since become known as the revolutions first hero, and we don't really know much about his life before the massacre, except that he had escaped from slavery and found work as a whaler and wrote maker in addition to the fatalities, eight other people, injured and Samuel, Maverick and Patrick Car ended up dying of their injuries later. That brings the death toll of the Boston massacre too far A warrant was issued for the arrest of Captain Preston a little after midnight that night pretty much. The only way they are able to get the crowd to go back about their business was to reassure them that, yes, there would be an investigation and that these men would see justice done. Support for this podcast comes from Peter. pico is helping homes and businesses save money with energy, efficient, LAPD's LAPD's last up to fifteen longer than traditional bulbs. Andy's updating percent, less energy, so they're good for your pocketbook amby environment, Ellie D come in all shapes and sizes and are available
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found in response to the killings People of Boston demanded that the soldiers who had participated in the shooting, along with their captain, be tried for murder captain Press than in his eight. So were indicted on March thirteen. Although the trial was put off for several months to allow the towns, passions to cool, down and they all remained in jail and interim. In the interim pressed him wrote, letters from his jail cell and some of them were published in the Boston papers and those that had been published, expressed. Empathy for the citizens and those who had fallen while the other hand. The letter that was published back in England was basically pretty scathing. Unnaturally word got back to the colonies about Balin, and that did not really help his case. No, he was kind of talk about a both sides of his mouth. The citizens of Boston also demanded that the British,
be removed, and eventually fearing further retaliation, acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson and Colonel Dalrymple, who is in charge of the units had the troops were moved to Castle, William, which is on an island three miles out in Boston Harbour Captain Preston and the soldiers were arranged on September seventh and they all plead not guilty. Captain press than was tried for murder in October of seventeen seventy separately from the other shoulders. The soldiers had requested that they all be tried together. They are an offence, was that they were just following orders and precedence. Defense was that not actually given in order to fire. So the soldiers were really understandably afraid that if Preston was tried first and then found guilty that they would automatically be guilty with no possible way to prove their interest innocence. Their request, though, was denied with no explanation.
And, as you can imagine, they have a hard time finding legal representation in Boston. Most lawyers feared that they would never work again if they dared to defend these soldiers. And in the end leading the defence for both the captain and his men was John Adams, Robert Oc Moody and Jose Quincy Junior help defend the captain and Quincy and Samson Salter Blowers, help defend the soldiers. So there was a transcription, presumably made of captain precedence, trial and that has not survived until today. But we know the basics. Eyewitnesses worthy defence insisted that Captain Preston had not ordered for Anyone to fire, on the other hand, eye witnesses bore the prosecution, insisted that he had Adams defence relied on raising doubts about the testimony of the prosecutions witnesses and the countess trial lasted from October. Twenty fourth, two October thirtieth with this sequestered jury, eventually finding him not guilty shock to many
Yeah. The eight british soldiers were tried, as well and November and December of one thousand seven hundred and seventy and the trial was officially known as Rex versus Weems at all. The transcript of this trial still exist today and their defense hinged on the idea that the soldiers were firing in self defense six of the soldiers were acquitted on the grounds that they were defending themselves. John Adams. Words quote if an assault was made endanger their lives, the laws clear they had a right to kill in their own defence. If it was not so severest, who endanger their lives, yet if they were assaulted at all, struck and abused by blows of any sort by snowballs, oyster, shell, cinders clubs or sticks of any kind. This was a provocation for which the law reduces the offence of killing down to manslaughter in consideration of those passions in our nature, which cannot be eradicated. So, while six of the soldiers
acquitted. Two of them were indeed convicted of manslaughter and at their sentencing they plead the benefit of clergy laws. Abbot I'm basically allowed for clergy to receive more lenient sentencing, especially when it came to the death penalty penalty and this I once had over many centuries, come to apply to all kinds of people and all kinds of situations, so pleading the benefit of clergy reduced their sentence to having the letter am branded onto their thumbs, so they would be marked forever, is manslaughter on their thumbs. John Adams, as you can imagine, initially faced hostility for his role in the trials that his defence of the soldiers was eventually viewed as an act of bravery and then, of course, he became George Washington's vice president and then the second president of the United States. So it did not really taken reputation as much as people.
Had expected and they are now and in the today it's become an example in law schools, sometimes of of an example of when somebody has defended. You know a clearly unpopular choice of someone to defend in the interests of making that person got actual justice. John Adams later wrote this in his diary. The part that I took in defence of Captain Preston and the soldiers procured me anxiety and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous manly and disinterested actions of my whole life and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered. My country judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the quakers or witches anciently, but the bigger impact of this massacre
its influence on the American Revolution, the dead became martyrs and the incident raised a rallying cry for independence one of the many people stirring the part was drawn Hancock, who had become a vocal opponent of the british after his sloop. The liberty with seized after its cargo, wine was unloaded without Hancock, paying the duties on it. So you're not paid taxes now and his ship was taken. He objected to that idea. Disgrace, land and music, untrue crime, podcast above musicians, getting away with murder and behaving very badly hosted by me, Jake Brennan is back with seasoned five. you're, not gonna, want in this new episodes on guns and roses: cheesy prince, Osborne Nitze Hustle Selina, the rolling stones and more winner of the region
Two thousand nineteen best music podcast toward by our radio enable apple podcast best of two thousand nineteen list for the second street year season, five of disgracefully and is set to explode here two years once more with all the crime Grimes scandal and drama you grown addicted to bored magazine, variety, G, Q, Forbes, Ryan, see Crest and rolling stone. Have all praise disgrace if you love they can. If you have true prime you're gonna love, this show listen to disgrace. and on that I apple pie, gas or wherever you get your pike, ass, rock n roll Paul Revere created an engraving which shows a line of british soldiers in their redcoats, just firing indiscriminately at a huge crowd of people it ran
the name. The bloody massacres perpetrated in King Street Mostyn same Adams also contributed to the massacre. Moniker writing There is in the Boston Gazette, as well as helping to pan quote a short narrative of the horrid massacre in Boston, perpetrated on the evening of the fifth day of March seventeen seventy by soldiers of the twenty ninth regiment, with which Fourteen regiment were then quarter there with some observations on the state of things prior to that catastrophe. Also as a short nor the narrative of the horrid massacre in Boston, because that first title is a little wording extremely long. The british counterparts to this pamphlet with set was the set of depositions we read from earlier, and that was tabled a fair account of the late unhappy disturbance at Boston in New England. Guess perspective changes everything they did not call this the Boston massacre in Britain they called it like the incident in
yeah. I was not referred to as a massacre at all and basically the reason why we in the United States call it a massacre is because our view and Samuel Adams were basically acting like spin doctors? They were propagandizing the event. Yes, if, if you were angry about span in the news It's not me. Eight is absolutely not a new thing at all, and one of the things that was just the the best the best part of researching this episode is the fact that most of these pamphlet still exist and yeah, I'm all them out, and you can see the blindingly different interpretations of what happened for a number of years. After March fifth was a day of remembrance him ass, it uses the site of the massacre, is,
bought on the freedom trail that still exists in the memorial to Christmas. Attics was erected in Boston comments in eighteen, eighty, eight over the opposition of historical organizations that viewed him as a villain, not a hero nights, because that you know that that the records of a day or so clouded and fuzzy there are people who see Christmas. Addeth attics as like the first real patriot, lying in the revolution like he was the person that stood up there. I do it up to the redcoats. You could really look at the same, counts and more arrive at the idea that that he was basically that the guy that, through a first punch and a bar fight, yeah, and in that bar fight, throwing the first put it a cop ray you could really
either way, but but he does wind up with a with also a notable place as being one of the first African Americans to have played a role in that way in the revolution, so their want of lawyers there, and luckily you can do plenty of looking around in a lot of this stuff. It's Tracy mentioned just a moment ago. The Massachusetts Historical city has a bunch of these. Documents are grouped together in one easy to find place and their kind of all areas, not only because of the obvious lamp and spinning that's going on, depending on whose writing, but also because it of as Tracy says, the long asses that look like that. Look like a yes and will link you too. That in the show note we well there's also that the boss, Dounia in society, has made a game that is meant for elementary and middle school students. That's all about investigating the massacre, which is pretty fun. I did not play all the way through it, but it basically as like: hey you're, an investigator. You gotta figure out what happened at this massacre.
I find it quite fun, amicable way to engage, give and adult frankly about learning by history. I would every historical event had one of those that would be so often. I really I wanted to do the whole thing, but I really really really needed to finish my notes so that I can go home. So, yes, the Boston massacre, I pulled some random people as I, as I got into this story, yells like hey how many family people do. Get killed at the Boston Massacre hundred, while nobody said hundreds, but most people came up with a number I was more than twenty years and when I said to five, they were like really so I don't want to belittle the fact that five human beings lost their lives. Like that's not the point, the point is more: that massacre is a great big, bloody
yeah and what happened was much more like a street brawl with casualty year. It was an incident though, and poorly, but it was not kind of the big huge. I mean it. It probably took moments yes and was not quite the event that the word massacre condors in those peoples, mine, rank right, Thank you so much for joining us today for this Saturday classic. If you have heard any kind of email address, there may be a facebook url during the course of the episode that might be obsolete. It might be doubly obsolete because we have changed our email address again. You can now reach us at history, podcast that I heart radio, dot com and we're all over social media at missed in history, and you can subscribe
our shared on Apple podcast, Google Podcast, the Iheart Radio APP and wherever else he wasn't podcast stuffy miss than history glasses. The production of Iheart Radios Housetop works for more upon for my heart, radio visit by her radio apple pie, guests or wherever you listen to your favorite, shows. I'm Oscar Ramirez in a host the daily dive, a daily news, podcast about the biggest stories of the day on the daily you'll, hear everything from stories about new tech and its potential to change our lives. So the latest in politics and how new policies affect you and those around you every morning, I'll connect you with the writers and journalists. Him know the story, so you can keep up to date and make informed decisions episode of the package is posted every Monday to Friday, listen to the daily died, podcast, my art, radioactive apple, podcast or wherever you get your podcast lack.
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