Five years before the American Revolution, on March 5, 1770, a group of Boston citizens were fired upon by British soldiers in what became known as the Boston Massacre. The skirmish began with insults and snowballs hurled at the soldiers by a restless crowd, and ended with five colonists dead. It is known as the first of many events that fueled America's growing discomfort with the King's army.
Shown alongside a timeline of early American history, this three-page illustrated overview of the Boston Massacre is part of the Library of Congress' educational America's Story site. It introduces the conflict to elementary and middle school students, and places it in historical context. " What started as a minor fight became a turning point in the beginnings of the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre helped spark the colonists' desire for American independence, while the dead rioters became martyrs for liberty. Can you think of other major events in history that began with a small incident?"
Archiving Early America explores Paul Revere's iconic color engraving of the Boston Massacre, revealing its omissions, exaggerations, and political impact. "Paul Revere wasted no time in capitalizing on the Massacre to highlight British tyranny and stir up anti-British sentiment among his fellow colonists. As you will see, Revere's historic engraving is long on political propaganda and short on accuracy or aesthetics."
Calling itself a "digital gateway to the famous event", this official site of the Boston Massacre Historical Society is my pick of the day because of its breadth. It includes facts, numbers, a look at Paul Revere's engraving, a timeline, the British view, a variety of essays, and a collection of little known facts. "It all started from a wig! The Massacre started when young wigmaker's apprentice named Edward Gerrish called out to a British officer on duty, Captain Lieutenant John Goldfinch, that he had not paid his master's bill."
Because of its reproduction of primary sources, this History Wiz site is a great resource for writing a high school or college research paper. The primary resources include eyewitness accounts from an anonymous American observer and the British Captain Thomas Preston. The site also includes a short discussion of the ensuing trial, where John Adams defended the British soldiers, and all but two were acquitted on grounds of self defense. The two convicted of manslaughter were given the opportunity to "make penance instead of being executed," but were branded on the thumbs so they would never be able to use "the benefit of clergy" again
For elementary students in grade three or higher, Mr. Nussbaum explains the Boston Massacre, and includes a reading comprehension exercise. "The situation in Boston grew more tense by the day. Local skirmishes between townspeople and British soldiers (redcoats) increased in frequency as did belligerence toward British soldiers. Rumors abounded throughout the city about possible attacks by soldiers or by the Sons of Liberty."