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“The Boston Massacre” by Abigail Leigh Rickert

Last Updated: 2/25/2021 2:06 PM

It was a cold and snowy Monday night, and I was seated next to the fire playing with my little sister when my father burst in the front door breathing heavily.  He yelled to my mother that the soldiers had opened fire on the crowd killing several men outside of the Customs House. I was very afraid as I knew that something bad was going to happen if things did not change. My mother told me it was time to go to sleep as she motioned to my mattress. Long into the night I lay on my bed trying to overhear the hushed conversation my parents were having becoming more afraid with every word.

The next morning my father was still in the house when I awoke rather than already at his blacksmith job. He looked like he had not slept all night and was very sad.  He said I would not be going to school today and when I questioned why he began to tell us the details of the shooting which occurred last night.  He told us that Hugh White, a British soldier, was guarding the Customs House when Edward Garrick, came up and accused him of not paying his bills. White was insulted with the accusations, so he swung his musket at Garrick. Garrick ran away to get some help, and soon a crowd of a dozen men or so were surrounding White. They shouted, pushed, and called him hateful names. Frightened, White went up the steps of the Customs House in need of assistance he shouted, “Turn out the main guard!” All the soldiers nearby heard him and soon, Captain Thomas Preston and seven other soldiers arrived to help White.

By this time, I am betting a huge crowd of close to 400 people were standing outside of the Customs House. They were throwing ice, snowballs, and even clamshells at the soldiers and shouting at them. Some people were even taunting the soldiers telling them to “fire their guns”. The colonist are not afraid of being shot as the soldiers are not allowed to fire their and weapons during peacetime unless the local government gives them permission. Then it happened so suddenly and one of the soldiers opened fire on the crowd. A moment later gunfire rang through the air, and when it was all over, there were numerous bodies lying in the street. Three men are dead, and the rest are wounded badly and may not survive. As my father finished his story and headed to work, I heard him tell my mother he would be late tonight as he was going to a Sons of Liberty meeting led by Samuel Adams to discuss the events which had occurred yesterday. I asked my mother what she thought was going to happen to the soldiers who had opened fire on the crowd. She told me they would be tried in court and that she hoped they would be found guilty of murder. She said that Capitan Preston was already in jail and she expected the rest of the soldiers to be arrested soon for their crimes against the colonist.

A few days after the shooting, my entire family attended the funeral of the four men who were killed. Almost everyone in our town was there to show support for their families and to show that we were not afraid of the British, even though I could tell that my mother was scared anytime she saw a British Soldier. My father said he believed that things were going to get better and that the shootings were helping to unify everyone living in Boston. There seem to be less soldiers in the street today and my father said he heard that the governor was going to move their barracks outside of the city.

We have been dealing with British law as long as I can remember. At first, we just had to put up with the Customs Officers forcing us to pay steep prices on British goods, but people began to not buy these items or to get them from elsewhere. The homeland was not happy about this, so they brought in these soldiers to force us to purchase everything from the Customs Officers with their marked-up prices. The soldiers are everywhere around town wherever you look. A few are nice and kindhearted, but many are vile beings who seem to delight in punishing us.

In the weeks and months following that fateful Monday night, the patriots lead by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere have kept reminding us about the Customs House shooting and the people that stood up against these occupying forces.  Paul Revere created an engraving loosely based on the day’s events. This piece was made into copies and distributed throughout the colonies. Even though it did not show the events of that night accurately, it was still believed to be a true rendition of what happened in front of the Customs House by most colonists. Adams’ speeches were printed throughout the colonies. His words about the Boston Massacre are uniting us as a people and are helping us think of ourselves as Americans rather than British subjects.

It is hard to believe that fall has arrived in Boston. Things have changed greatly over the past six months. As my family walks past the Customs House on a beautiful Sunday morning, I think back on when the British soldiers open fired on the crowd. The soldiers are no longer living within the city limits having to be moved out to Castle William in the Boston Harbor. We are no longer paying taxes on good imported from Britain except on tea and we don’t buy that from them anyways. The Sons of Liberty are still meeting mostly in secret continuing to unite us against the homeland. As much as I would like to hope, I know that this peace will not last so I’m going to enjoy it while I can.






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