March 5, 1770 - British troops open fire during the Boston Massacre (right). After previous attempts to tax the colonies with the Sugar and Stamp Acts, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts in 1767. Met with outrage in the colonies, the Massachusetts legislature began encouraging their counterparts elsewhere in North America to resist the taxes. This ultimately led to troops being sent to Boston in 1768. As tensions continued to mount, the city's residents began confronting British troops. On March 5, 1770, an argument between a British sentry and a local apprentice escalated into a standoff between a large mob and a force of eight soldiers led by Capt. Thomas Preston. In the course of the evening, one of the soldiers was knocked down and fired into the crowd. This led to his compatriots firing as well. When it ended, three members of the crowd were dead and two mortally wounded. Arrested later in the month, Preston and his men were charged with murder. After no Loyalist attorneys would take their case, their defense fell to Patriot lawyer John Adams. At their trials that fall, Adams successfully argued that the soldiers were defending themselves and only two were convicted of manslaughter. Though the Townshend Acts were partially repealed in April 1770, tensions continued to mount as the two sides moved down the road to the American Revolution.
Causes of the American Revolution:
Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress