Tensions Run Over: Boston Massacre Mock Trial

revere engraving

How did the vital interests of the soldiers, as well as the colonists, lead to bloodshed?

On the night of March 5, 1770, a struggle broke out between a number of people from Boston and a group of British soldiers stationed in the city.
  • Tensions were growing between the colonists of Boston and the British as the British attempted to exert limited control over their colony.
  • Two years earlier these British soldiers have arrived, only to be treated as foreign invaders, shunned and taunted by the people of Boston.
  • On the evening of March 5 tensions on both sides ran over. Three people were killed and eight wounded, two of whom died from their injuries days later.
Read the account of the Boston Massacre as it appeared in the pages of the Boston Gazette on March 12, 1770.
It will be up our class to determine what really happened that evening and decide where the blame should lay for the deaths of these men.
On trial for the deaths of these five men are Captain Preston and his soldiers. To determine their guilt or innocence we will conduct a mock trial. Students will assume the roles of:
To guide us through this trial, we will use engravings of the event, as well as sworn depositions of eye witnesses, the soldiers involved, and Captain Preston himself.
Your performance will be graded as follows:
• 30 points: individual performance during Mock Trial
• 30 points: group performance during Mock Trial
• 40 points: one-page essay describing your role, your testimony (as a witness), questions (as an attorney), or trial outline (as judge and bailiff).

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