Massacre or Riot: What Say Ye?

map of boston

Activity One
Start your investigation by making a time line or a flow chart showing the sequence of events in the colonies during the five years leading up to 1770. People have been taking sides these last few years, some calling themselves Patriots, those in favor of independence. Others call themselves Loyalists and remain loyal to the king. Include the events from the following paragraphs on the time line.
What's happening in Boston, a town of about 16,000 residents, in the five years leading up to 1770? Colonists are generally content and proud to be British citizens. The French threat has been eliminated and the future looks good. There is some resentment of the English colonial policy that attempts to tax colonists without representation in Parliament. Being British citizens without colonial representation in Parliament, many colonists see this as an injustice, others are not so sure.
Seventeen sixty-five was an eventful year because of the Stamp Act. Throughout the colonies there were protests. A tax on printed matter affected everyone. Marriage licenses, newspapers, playing cards and other printed matter were taxed, so everyone was affected. Patriot merchants, farmers, lawyers, artisans, and others were united in opposition, regardless of occupation or position in society, while Loyalists felt that these taxes helped the British protect the colonies (i.e., the French and Indian War). The Sons of Liberty formed in July 1765, to oppose the Stamp Act. Started in Boston by Samuel Adams and others, the Sons of Liberty spread to other colonies. In October 1765, nine colonies sent representatives to New York City for the Stamp Act Congress, which passed resolutions against the Stamp Act. The British repeal the Stamp Act in March of 1766 as a result of the overwhelming Patriot protest.
Still needing revenue to offset expenses from the French and Indian War, the British pass a new tax law, the Townshend Acts, in June 1767. It places a tax on many imported goods, and it provides for strict enforcement of the law. The Patriots respond locally with protests and boycotts. Samuel Adams sees an opportunity to broaden the protests by sending a Circular Letter from the Massachusetts House of Representatives to the legislatures of the other colonies in February, 1768. The letter asks the other colonies to formally unite against taxation without representation. The British government orders the Massachusetts House of Representatives to revoke the Circular Letter. When they refuse, the legislature is dissolved in July, 1768.
Meanwhile, Governor Bernard requests that British troops be stationed in Boston to protect British customs officials and to maintain order. On October 1, 1768, two regiments, about 2000 soldiers, land in Boston.
Answer the following questions:
  1. Which events on the time line were attempts to unify colonies?
  2. Which event do you think had the greatest effect on the colonists? Why?
  3. About which event do you know the least? Find out more about it.

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