Unit Title: Interpreting the Past – The Case of the “Bloody Massacre” Designed by: Fran O’Malley Director, Delaware Social Studies Education Project



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Check for Understanding


Have students take their Frayer Models home and generate at least one example and one non-example of propaganda used in modern times with an explanation of why each qualifies as an example or non-example.

Rubric


2 – This response gives valid examples with accurate and relevant explanations.

1 – This response gives examples with an inaccurate, irrelevant, or no explanation.

Strategy 3: Application
Writing in the Content Area


Distribute copies of Appendix 15. Place students in groups of 3-4 and tell them that they are now going to read what has been written about the “Boston Massacre” in American history textbooks over the past 200 years. Their tasks are to:

  1. Read the various accounts.

  2. Identify any differences in the accounts, including what is or is not included.

  3. Create a timeline that summarizes new twists on the history of the “massacre” and that show when the different accounts appeared.

  4. Create a title for their timeline.



Discussion to follow the construction of the timelines:

  • Has the history of the “Boston Massacre” changed over time?

  • Why might history textbooks offer different interpretations of the same event?

  • Which pieces of evidence might each historian or textbook author have used (e.g., defense or prosecution depositions)?

  • How might their choices of questions have influenced their conclusions (e.g., Why were the soldiers sent to Boston? Where did the witnesses say Captain Preston was standing? Were the colonists doing anything to provoke the soldiers? Was the crowd an imminent threat to the soldiers?)

Enrichment: Have students research what was happening during the period when each textbook account appeared and draw inferences as to how what was happening shaped what was written.

Wrap-Up


  1. How might author’s (historian) use of evidence explain different conclusions?

  2. How might questions shape an author’s conclusions?

  3. Why might historians disagree about the same historical event?


Check for Understanding


The timeline will serve as the Check for Understanding.

Optional/Supplemental Lesson

Lesson Four

Essential Question


  • Why might historians disagree about the same historical event?

Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1: Gathering Information
Reading in the Content Area – Selective Underlining


Students should pair up with a reading buddy to read The Tragedy at Kent State – 1970 (Appendix 16). The pair should use selective underlining or highlighting to focus on answering the questions:

  • Did history repeat itself?

  • What is your evidence?

  • Why might one historian say yes while another says no?

Students should discuss their findings.

Check for Understanding


What question might a historian ask when researching The Tragedy at Kent State? Explain why that question might become the focus of a historian’s research.

Rubric


2 – This response gives a valid question with an accurate and relevant explanation.

1 – This response gives a valid question with an inaccurate, irrelevant, or no explanation.

Strategy 2: Extending and Refining
Creating a Venn Diagram


U
sing the evidence compiled in the previous strategy, students will create a Venn diagram comparing the events of March 5, 1770 to May 5, 1970.

Students should then revisit their initial findings to the questions:



  • Did history repeat itself?

  • What is your evidence?

  • Why might one historian say yes while another says no?

Check for Understanding

How might graphic organizers help historians compare historical sources? Support your answer with an example.


Rubric


2 – This response gives a valid explanation with an accurate and relevant example.

1 – This response gives a valid explanation with an inaccurate, irrelevant, or no example.

Strategy 3: Application
Document Analysis


Using the “Pieta” photo from Kent State (Appendix 17) students will examine the purpose of the photo and the interpretation of Kent State based on the photograph. Analysis should focus on the following questions:

  • How might this photographic evidence be used to show the soldiers or the students in a favorable or unfavorable light?

  • How might this evidence influence a historian’s conclusions about May 5, 1970?

  • What might you see in a photograph if it had been taken by someone who wanted to capture a different story about Kent State?

A class-wide debriefing should follow and also include the questions:

  • How might a historian’s use of evidence explain different conclusions?

  • How might questions shape a historian’s conclusions?

  • Why might historians disagree about the same historical event?


Check for Understanding


How might the interpretation of history change due to the questions asked or the sources used? Support your answer with an example.

Rubric


2 – This response gives a valid explanation with an accurate and relevant example.

1 – This response gives a valid explanation with an inaccurate, irrelevant, or no example.

Resources and Teaching Tips

  • For the original version of the Case of the “Bloody Massacre: Rex v. Preston”: http://www.udel.edu/dssep/units_and_lessons/history_resources.html

  • John and Abigail Adams – The Boston Massacre http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/adams/peopleevents/e_massacre.html

  • An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera – On the death of five young men who was murthered, March 5th, 1770. By the 29th regiment. [Massachusetts 1770]
    http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=rbpe&fileName=rbpe03/rbpe037/03700300/rbpe03700300.db&recNum=0&itemLink=D?rbpebib:1:./temp/~ammem_EUIm::&linkText=0

  • An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera—An account of a late military massacre at Boston, or the consequences of quartering troops in a populous town, March 12, 1770. [New York, John Holt, 1770.]
    http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=rbpe&fileName=rbpe10/rbpe104/10401000/rbpe10401000.db&recNum=0&itemLink=D?rbpebib:2:./temp/~ammem_EUIm::&linkText=0

  • Boston Massacre Obituary – Boston Gazette; March 12, 1770 http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/obits/bostonmassacre.html

  • Account of the Boston Massacre – Boston Gazette and Country Journal; Monday, March 12, 1770 http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/winter96/massacre/massacretext.htm

  • The Boston Massacre Trials: An Account
    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/bostonmassacre/bostonmassacre.html

For additional background consider Hiller Zobel’s book, “The Boston Massacre.”

APPENDIX 1



STATEMENT OF THE CASE

REX V. PRESTON (1770)

Conditions in Boston on the evening of March 5, 1770, were pleasant but chilly. Nearly a foot of hardened snow and ice chunks lay on the ground. Although Boston would not have street lamps until 1774, a first quarter moon appeared in the cloudless southern sky and reflected considerable light off of a snow whitened King Street.

At the corner of King Street and Royal Exchange Lane stood the Customs House. The Customs House was a two storied, brick structure with three curved steps leading up to the centered, front door. Viewing the front of the building from King Street, one would see a small sentry box just off to the left of the front door and a hitching post to the left of the box. Under orders from Lieutenant Colonel William Dalrymple, a single soldier, Private Hugh White of England’s 29th regiment, stood guard in front of the Customs House. All of Boston’s customs records and whatever money had been collected recently were stored in the Customs House. It was here that ship masters entered and cleared their ships and paid duties on their cargo. The second floor of the building also served as home to the family of a minor revenue official named Bartholomew Green.

The evening began quietly enough considering the degree to which tensions had been mounting since the passage of the Townshend acts in 1767 and the arrival of the British troops on October 1, 1768. In the aftermath of the Stamp Act riots, Parliament deemed it necessary to station 2,000 troops in the city to support and protect British officials and to enforce “a due Obedience to the Laws of this Kingdom, the execution of which has, in several Instanced, been unwarrantedly been resisted…” (Zobel 85 – Hillsborough to Admiralty 28 July 1768 CO 5/86) Troops from the 29th Regiment were posted at various locations throughout the city that evening. A 40 year old Irishman named Thomas Preston was in charge of the soldiers as the captain of the day.

The tensions which gripped the city resulted in occasional acts of violence. Two of them were especially notable for they would remain fresh in the minds of some of the people who were involved in the “Massacre.” On February 22, 1770 an eleven year old boy named Christopher “Seider” (aka “Snyder”) was shot and killed by Ebenezer Richardson. Seider was one of a group of boys who was throwing stones at Richardson and his house as he attempted to cut down a sign that identified his neighbor, Mr. Thophilus Lillie, as a violator of the nonimportation agreement. The funeral procession for Seider stretched for five-eighths of a mile and involved an estimated 2,000 mourners. According to Sam Adams, it was “the largest perhaps ever known in America.”1 Then, on March 2nd, a group of Boston’s rope makers got into a street fight with several British soldiers. The fight started when one of the rope makers offered a soldier some nasty and degrading part time work (“… go and clean my s_ _ _ _ house!”). The ropemakers who outnumbered the soldiers won the fight but no one was seriously hurt.

What was somewhat remarkable up to this time was the fact that, despite the mounting hostility between the people of Boston and the British soldiers, not once had a British soldier shot and killed a colonist. In fact, British law was designed to prevent such a thing from happening. Under the law, if a person died as a result of an officer who gave his soldiers an order to fire without permission from a civil official, or a person died as a result of a soldier who fired without doing so to prevent serious bodily injury or a loss of life, both the officer and the soldier could be found guilty and put to death. So far the law had worked to prevent soldiers from killing citizens of Boston. Things were about to change.

As Hugh White was standing guard on the evening of March 5th, Lieutenant John Goldfinch of the British army and a wigmaker’s apprentice named Edward Garrick happened to walk by Private White at the same time. Referring to Goldfinch, Garrick shouted, “There goes the fellow that won’t pay my master for fixing his wig.” Goldfinch, having the receipt for payment in his pocket, ignored the comment. Garrick left for a time, accompanying a fellow apprentice on a walk down King Street. Several minutes later, Garrick left for a time, accompanying a fellow apprentice on a walk down King Street. Several minutes later, Garrick returned telling three passers-by that Goldfinch was “mean” and that he owed his mastery money. The comments were made loud enough for White to hear. Unaware that the debt had already been settled, White shouted that Goldfinch was a gentleman and would pay what was owed. Garrick replied that “there were no gentlemen in the 29th Regiment.” At that point, White left his post. Garrick moved to meet him. “Let me see your face,” White commanded. “I am not ashamed to show my face,” Garrick replied. Then, White struck Garrick across the side of his head with the butt of his musket (gun). Garrick cried out in pain.

From the other side of Dock Square, near Murray’s sugar house on Brattle Street came the sound of shouts as another scuffle between British soldiers and townspeople started. Part of the 29th Regiment has their barracks there. At the same time, a town fire bell rang out. Men began to shout “fire.”

Meanwhile, sometime between 8:30 and 9 p.m., eight or nine men and boys gathered around the front of White’s sentry box where Garrick was crying. The boys dared White to come out and fight. “Lousy rascal, damned rascally scoundrel lobster,” they shouted to White. Within minutes, the crowd’s size increased to nearly fifty people. White, plainly scared, moved to a position on the steps of the Customs House and loaded his musket. The crowd hollered at White and began throwing snowballs, ice and oyster shells. White attached a bayonet to his musket and lowered it. Henry Knox, a bookseller who knew a lot about military law, told White that if he fired on the crowd he would die for it. “Damn them,” White responded, “if they molest me I will fire.” He knocked on the door to the customs house trying to get in but no one answered. The crowd, growing in size, began to shout, “Kill him, kill him, knock him down. Fire, damn you, fire, you dare not fire.”

A first year law clerk to John Adams told the people to “come away, and stop molesting the sentry.” A few left. A town watchman tried to reassure White saying that those who were taunting were only boys and would not hurt him. White was not convinced and yelled for help – “Turn out, Main Guard!”

While the confrontation at the Customs House was developing, similar incidents erupted in other nearby areas where British soldiers were stationed. One man was heard rushing up Boylston’s Alley toward Brattle Street shouting, “Town born, turn out! People of Boston, come out!” The fire bells continued to ring. In 1770, Boston had no fire company. The law required every able bodied person to respond in the event of a fire. Even though some had come to realize that there was no fire, the bells continued to draw men and boys onto King Street like a magnet.

Meanwhile, at the Main Guard house, Captain Preston struggled to decide what to do. He could see and hear the mob at the Customs House. Two people told him that Private White was in trouble. Eventually, after debating nervously with himself, Preston ordered a subordinate to “take out six or seven of the men, and let them go down to the assistance of…” Private White. After pushing through the crowd, the relief party of seven soldiers arrived at White’s sentry box and loaded their weapons.

Shortly thereafter, Captain Preston arrived. He ordered Private White to join in with the rest of his men and, together, they tried unsuccessfully to move through the crowd and return to the Main Guard house. Believing that there was little chance for escape, the soldiers fell into formation in front of the Customs House between the Sentry box and the hitching post near Royal Exchange Lane. The crowd continued to taunt the soldiers and throw various objects at them.

Suddenly a stick like projectile struck Private Hugh Montgomery and he fell to the ground. Almost immediately, some claimed, the word “fire” was heard and a shot rang out. Instantly, the crowd began to push in two directions, dividing itself and leaving the area immediately in front of the soldiers fairly clear. More shots rang out as the crowd reacted.

The soldiers quickly reloaded and cocked their weapons. The mob which had reacted to the shootings by moving away began to approach again. Uncertain as to whether the crowd was moving to help the people who had been shot or moving to attack the soldiers, the soldiers lifted their muskets into firing position. Pushing the guns up with his arm, Captain Preston shouted, “Stop firing… Do not fire!” At that point, a townsman named Benjamin Burdick stepped closer to the soldiers to get a better look at them. “I want to see some faces,” he said, “that I may swear to another day.’ An upset Captain Preston turned and replied, “Perhaps, sir, you may.”

In front of the Customs House, the scene cleared rapidly as the soldiers returned to the Main Guard. Meanwhile, townspeople carried the dead and wounded to various places (Boston had neither a mortuary nor a hospital). News of the tragedy spread quickly and brought nearly 1000 stunned and angry people out onto King Street. Many were shouting “to arms!” Captain Preston sounded the general alarm for all of the British troops in Boston. The situation was moving beyond control until Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson appeared from the balcony of the Town House facing King Street to address the people. After expressing his deep concern, Hutchinson promised a full investigation into the shootings and pleaded with the people to go home. “The law shall have its course,” he said, “I shall live and die by the law.” Slowly, the streets of Boston emptied.

As a result of the shots fired by the soldiers, four people in the crowd were killed; another was mortally wounded and died nine days later. Six more civilians were wounded by survived.

At approximately 2 o’clock in the morning, Captain Preston and a number of witnesses were brought before the Lieutenant Governor and two Justices of the Peace in council chambers where they were asked to describe what had happened. At the hearing, some witnesses said that they heard Captain Preston give the order to fire. Other stated that they heard the word “fire” but did not know whether it came from Preston or whether it was part of an order to “not fire.” Captain Preston was sent to jail at about 3 a.m. The other eight soldiers who were present at the shooting surrendered the next morning and were imprisoned.

After lengthy legal discussions, it was decided that Captain Thomas Preston would be tried separately from the rest of the soldiers and that he would be tried first. Preston was charged with murder on the grounds that he allegedly gave an unlawful order to fire that resulted in the deaths of five people. Remember, under British law at the time, it was illegal for a military officer to give his men an order to fire into a crowd of civilians without permission from a civil official.

The remaining eight soldiers were charged with murder as well. This mock trial, however, will deal only with the charges against Captain Preston.



The Defendants:

  • Rex v Preston – Captain Thomas Preston

  • Rex v Wemms – Corporal William Wemms, James Hartegan, William McCauley,

High White, Mathew Kilroy, William Warren, John Carroll and Hugh Montgomery

Appendix 1b (Optional)

Give & Take Questions: Statement of the Case




  1. What were the weather conditions in Boston on March 5, 1770?

  2. On what street did the massacre occur?

  3. Was it dark or well-lit when the massacre occurred?

  4. Who stood guard in front of the customs house on King Street?

  5. When did the British troops arrive in Boston?

  6. Who was in charge of the British soldiers on the night of the massacre?

  7. What did British law state about firing on civilians?

  8. What happened to Christopher Seider on February 22, 1770?

  9. What started the fight between the British soldiers and the rope makers on March 2nd?

  10. What caused an angry crowd to form around Private Hugh White on the evening of March 5, 1770?

  11. What did Private White do to Garrick? Why did he strike Garrick with his gun?

  12. How many people confronted Private White after he struck Garrick?

  13. What caused a lot of people to come out onto King Street that evening?

  14. In what ways did the crowd threaten Private White?

  15. How many soldiers were present at the time of the massacre?

  16. How many were in the crowd at the time of the massacre?

  17. Were any of the soldiers in danger of death or serious bodily injury?

  18. Was anybody in the crowd on King Street shouting anything at the time of the massacre (i.e., “fire”, “kill”, etc.)?

  19. What happened just before the first shot was fired? (Private Hugh Montgomery was hit by a stick, he fell… the first shot was fired.)

  20. Did anyone in civilian authority give Captain Preston permission to order his men to fire?

  21. Did Captain Preston give his men an order to fire?

  22. What did the soldiers do after they fired the first round of shots into the crowd?

  23. What did Captain Preston do after the first volley of shots was fired?

  24. How many people died as a result of the shots fired on March 5, 1770? How many injured?

  25. What time was it when the Massacre occurred?

  26. Did anyone get a good look at any of the soldiers after the shootings?

  27. Did Captain Preston speak to anyone immediately after the shootings? What was said?

  28. With which crime was Captain Preston charged?

  29. Did anyone in the crowd specifically hear Captain Preston give an order to fire?


Appendix 2

Thinking Chronologically Event Strips


Directions: cut out individual strips and lay them out chronologically on your desk or table. Place events that suggest the British were to blame on the top of the timeline. Place the events that suggest the colonists were to blame on the bottom of the timeline (see illustration below).

Events damaging to British

Earlier ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Later

Events damaging to Colonists


Private Hugh White struck Edward Garrick across the face with the butt of his musket (gun).

Parliament passed the Townsend Acts.

A stick struck Private Hugh Montgomery and he fell to the ground.

Edward Garrick shouted, “There goes the fellow that won’t pay my master for fixing his wig.”

Ebenezer Richardson shot and killed Christopher Seider.

Fire bells in Boston rang out for the first time.

A British soldier fired his first shot into the crowd.

An additional two thousand British soldiers arrived in Boston at the request of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson.

Captain Thomas Preston ordered his men to stop firing.

Nine British soldiers including Captain Thomas Preston positioned themselves in front of the Customs House.

A crowd of at least 50 people angrily confronted Private Hugh White.

Boston rope makers fought British soldiers.

Appendix 3

“Mapping the Scene”


Shortly after the “Boston Massacre” a map of the scene was drawn for use at the trial of Captain Preston. The original map identified the locations of those who were killed or wounded. Below you will find a modified version of the original map. You will notice that the Customs House is located in the bottom right hand corner of the map at the corner of King Street and (Royal) Exchange Lane. The Town House is at the top of King Street. The locations of the dead and wounded have been removed for the purpose of this activity.

Now that you have read the “Statement of the Case,” use symbols to create a visual representation of the moment when the shootings occurred. Use the symbols listed under the map to represent the crowd and its actual size, the correct number of soldiers as well as their formation, and the spot where Captain Preston may have been standing.




Symbols: P = Captain Preston S = Soldiers C = Colonists

Appendix 4

Working With Historical Documents:

Who Will Represent the Captain?


Background regarding key legal council:

John Adams: You are one of Boston’s best lawyers, are well known in the community, and have thoughts about running for office someday. In law school, you learned that every person who is accused of a crime has a right to a lawyer. As a lawyer in private practice, however, you also know that you do not have to take every case. You are not sure whether you will represent Captain Preston.

Abigail Adams: You are the wife of John Adams and you are afraid that if your husband acts as Captain Preston’s lawyer, your family will be criticized, punished and your husband’s future political and legal careers will suffer. The Sons of Liberty may even trash your house just like they did to the suspended stamp tax collectors during the Stamp Act riots. Try to discourage your husband from taking the case.

John Adams, Jr.: You are the son of John and Abigail Adams. You are afraid that if your father represents Captain Preston, you will lose all of your friends and they will probably pick on you when you go to school or go out to play.

Mr. James Forrest: You are a friend of Captain Preston. He has been arrested on charges of murder. He is sitting in jail and is afraid that no one will represent him in court as his lawyer because everyone is afraid that radicals like the Sons of Liberty will punish them for representing a British soldier, especially after his men shot and killed 5 colonists. Try to talk Captain Preston into taking the case.

Samuel Adams: You are a Son of Liberty and John Adams’ cousin. You want the British soldiers out of America and believe that, if Captain Preston is found guilty, the soldiers will be forced to leave. You do not want your talented cousin to represent a lousy British soldier who you believe is responsible for the deaths of 5 colonists.

James Otis: You are also a Son of Liberty but you want John Adams to represent Captain Preston because it will provide that the colonists truly care about people’s rights, even if they are the rights of people who are extremely unpopular. If Captain Preston does not get a lawyer, England will ask why they should care about the colonists’ rights when the colonists do not care about theirs.

Appendix 5

Prosecution Team Packet


Witness List and Order of Testimony (the statements of the witnesses whose names are bolded are included in this packet of materials)

  1. Edward Garrick

  2. Thomas Marshal

  3. Peter Cummingham

  4. William Wyat

  5. John Cox

  6. Theodore Bliss

  7. Henry Knox

  8. Benjamin Burdick

  9. Robert Fullerton

  10. Daniel Calef (considered the Crown’s best witness)

  11. Robert Goddard

  12. Obadiah Whitson

  13. Dimond Morton

  14. Nathaniel Fosdick

  15. Jonathan Williams Austin

  16. – Langford

  17. Francis Archibald, Jr.

  18. Isaac Pierce

  19. Joseph Belknap

  20. Jonathan Mason

* Samuel Drowne was not called but Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson felt that his deposition was “the strongest” for the prosecution. The fact that many townspeople thought of him as feebleminded may explain why he was not called to testify.

Witness for the King (Prosecution)


William Wyat

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence

William Wyat, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I heard the fire bell as I walked up Cornhill street and saw people running in several directions. The largest group of them went down to the North of the Town House.

I went to the south side where I saw an officer leading out 8 or 10 soldiers. Somebody met the officer and said, “Captain Preston, for Gods sake, mind what you are about and take care of your men.” He went down to the centinel, drew up his men, ordered them to face about and prime and load their weapons.

I saw about 100 people in the street huzzaing, crying “fire, damn you, fire.” In about 10 minutes I heard the officer say “fire.” The soldiers took no notice of the command. The officer’s back was to me. I heard the same voice say, “fire.” The soldiers did not fire. The officer then stamped his feet and said, “damn your bloods, fire, be the consequence what it will.” Immediately, the first gun was fired.

I have no doubt that the officer was the same person who was speaking to the man when I saw him coming down with the other soldiers to the Customs House. His back was to me when the last order to fire was given. I was standing about 2 yards away from the officer when the first order was given and about 5 or 6 yards away when the last order was given. The officer who gave the order to fire stood in the rear of his men when the guns were fired.

Just before the first shot was fired, I heard a stick which sounded like it was hitting a gun. I did not actually see a stick hit a gun though.

The officer was wearing, to the best of my knowledge, a plain colored *surtout.

After the shootings, the captain stepped forward before the soldiers and struck up their guns. One of the soldiers was loading his weapon again and he damned the soldiers for firing. He severely reprimanded the soldiers.

I did not mean that the Captain had a surtout on, rather it was the man who spoke to him when coming to the Customs House with the other soldiers.

*A “surtout” is a man’s long, close fitting overcoat.

Witness for the King (Prosecution)


Daniel Calef

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence


Daniel Calef, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I was present at the shooting. I heard one of the guns rattle, I turned around and heard the officer who stood on the right in a line with the soldiers give the word “fire” twice. I looked at the officer in the face when he gave the word and saw his mouth. He had on a red coat, yellow jacket and silver laced hat. There was no trimming on his coat.

The defendant is the officer I am talking about. I saw his face plain, the moon shone on it. I am sure of the man though I have not seen him since the shooting. I was standing about 30 feet away from the soldiers when the word “fire” was given. The officer had no surtout on.

Witness for the King (Prosecution)

John Cox

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence

John Cox, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I saw the officer after the shooting and spoke to the soldiers. I told them that it was a cowardly action to kill men at the end of their bayonets. The soldiers were pushing at the people who seemed to be trying to come back into the street.

After the shooting the Captain came up and stamped his feet saying, “damn their bloods fire again and let ‘em take the consequence.” I was within four feet of the Captain. He had no surtout on, rather he was wearing a red coat with a rose on his shoulder.

The soldiers were pushing and striking people with their guns. I saw the people’s arms move but saw no sticks.

Witness for the King (Prosecution)


Colonel Thomas Marshall

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence


Colonel Thomas Marshall, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

At about 5 minutes after 9 o’clock I left Colonel Jackson and came up Royal Exchange Lane. All was still. I saw no one but the sentinel.

I went home and heard the cry of murder in the street. There was a great noise. At my door I saw a group of people rushing down the street from the Main Guard with swords crying, “damn them where are they, let them come, by Jesus.” A similar group shortly thereafter came up Quaker Lane crying, “fire.” I went in and heard the bells ring. The cry of “fire” could be heard all over. I then went out by the Customs House.

The people kept gathering. I saw no uneasiness with the sentinel. I stood within 30 feet of the sentinel and would have seen any disturbance.

A party of soldiers then came down from the Main Guard. I thought that they came to relieve the sentinel. I heard one gun and thought that it was to alarm other soldiers in the barracks. A little time after the first shot, I heard another, and then several more…

When the first shot was fired, there was no one within 12 – 15 feet of the soldiers except on the wings. I cannot say that I heard an order to fire nor that I clearly saw Captain Preston.

Between the firing of the first shot and the second, there was enough time for an officer to step forward and give the word “recover” if he wanted to. No one did this.

Witness for the King (Prosecution)


Isaac Pierce

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence


Isaac Pierce, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

After the shootings had occurred, the Lieutenant Governor asked Captain Preston, “didn’t you know that you had no power to fire upon the Inhabitants or any number of people unless you had a Civil Officer to give order.” “You must know it,” said the Lieutenant Governor.

The Captain replied, “I was obliged to, to save my Centry.”

Witness for the King (Prosecution)


Robert Goddard

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence


Robert Goddard, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

At about 9 o’clock I heard the fire bell ring. I ran into King Street where I saw 8 or 9 men coming down pushing their bayonets and damning the crowd.

The soldiers came up to the centinel and the officer told them to place themselves into a half moon position. The Captain told the boys to go home least there be murder done. The boys were throwing snowballs and did not leave but threw more snowballs.

The Captain went behind the soldiers. The Captain told them to fire. One gun went off. A sailor or townsman struck the Captain. He thereupon said, “damn your bloods, fire, think I’ll be treated in this manner.” This man who struck the Captain came from among the people who were seven feet away and who rounded one wing of the soldiers as they stood in formation. I saw no person speak to him. I was so near to the Captain that I would have seen it.

After the Captain said, “damn your bloods,” the soldiers all fired one after another (about 7 or 8 in all) and then the officer ordered them to prime and load again. He stood behind the soldiers the whole time.

Mr. Lee went up to the officer and called the officer by his name – Captain Preston.

I saw Captain Preston coming down from the Main Guard behind the party of soldiers. I went to the gaol (jail) the day after the shooting, being sworn for the grand jury, to identify the Captain. I said, pointing to him, “that’s the person who gave the word to fire.” He said, “if you swear that you will ruin me everlastingly.”

I was so near the officer when he gave the word “fire” that I could touch him. His face was towards me. He stood in the middle behind the soldiers. I looked at him in the face. He then stood within the half moon formation of soldiers. When he told them to fire he turned around and faced me. I looked him in the face.


Witness for the King (Prosecution)


Benjamin Burdick

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence


Benjamin Burdick, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

When I came out into the streets that night, I was told that there was a scuffle between the soldiers and the people. Upon receiving that information, I went back to my house and got my sword. I never used to go out without a weapon.

When I came into King Street at about 9 o’clock I saw the soldiers round the centinel. I asked one of them if his weapon was loaded and he said yes. I asked him if he would fire, “yes, by the eternal God, and pushed his bayonet at me.

I did not draw my sword from its sheath until after the soldier pushed at me with his bayonet. I would have cut his head off if he had stepped out of his rank to attack me again.

I heard the word “fire” and am certain that it came from behind the soldiers. I saw a man behind the soldiers who I took to be an officer. He was passing busily behind the men. Before the firing I saw a stick thrown at the soldiers. The firing came a little time after. I saw some person fall. The word “fire” I took to be a word of command.

When the first shot was fired, most of the people were in Royal Exchange Lane. There were about 50 people on King Street.

After the shooting, I went up to the soldiers and told them that I wanted to see some faces so that I might be able to identify them under oath in the future. The centinel, in a melancholy tone said, “perhaps Sir, you may.”

Witness for the King (Prosecution)

Henry Knox

Anonymous Summary of Prosecution Evidence

Henry Knox, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I came up Cornhill Street where I was told that the soldiers had been fighting with the people. I went up to the centinel who was stationed in front of the Customs House and saw him loading his gun. The boys were damning him and dared him to fire. I thought that he had snapped his gun, but then as I thought about it, I am now inclined to think that he did not because I saw no fire in his musket pan.

There were about 20 or 30 people in front of the centinel. One boy swore that he would knock him down for snapping his gun. I saw the Captain coming down with his party of men. I took Preston by the coat and told him, “for God’s sake, take care of your men for if they fire, your life with be answerable.” In an agitated state, he replied, “I am sensible of it.”

A Corporal was leading the troops as they went down to the Customs House. The Captain stopped with me and the party of soldiers proceeded to the centinel. The people cried, “stand by.” The soldiers pushed through the people with their bayonets charged in order to get through. The people shouted, “make way, damn your bloods.”

The Captain then left me and went to join the rest of the soldiers in front of the Customs House.

I heard the centinel say, “damn their bloods, if they touch me I will fire.”

In about 3 minutes after the centinel said, “damn their bloods,” the party of soldiers arrived. I stood at the foot of the Town house when the guns were fired. I heard the people cry, “damn your bloods, fire on.”

To the best of my recollection, the Corporal [Wemms] had a surtout on. I did not.

Appendix 6

Defense Team Packet


Witness List and Order of Testimony (the statements of the witnesses whose names are bolded are included in this packet of materials)

  1. Brazen Head Jackson

  2. Edward Hill

  3. Benjamin David, Sr.

  4. Joseph Edwards

  5. John Frost

  6. Benjamin Leigh

  7. Jane Whitehouse

  8. James Waddel (Woodall)

  9. Joseph Hilyer

  10. Richard Palmes (key witness for defense)

  11. John Coffin (probably a prosecution witness)

  12. Matthew Murray

  13. Andrew (“Oliver”) – negro servant of Oliver Wendell (another key witness)

  14. Oliver Wendell (called to establish Andrew’s credibility)

  15. Jack (negro servant of Dr. James Lloyd)

  16. Newton Price (free black)

  17. James Gifford

  18. Thomas Handasyd

  19. John Gillespie

  20. Captain Brabazon O’Hara

* John Hickling was not called but some historians think that he would have made a good witness. The reason for not calling him is unknown.

** Dr. John Jeffries’s testimony was included in this packet although he did not testify at the trial of Captain Preston. Jeffries did testify at the trial of the other soldiers and his testimony was compelling.



Teacher Tip: If you use his testimony, I would encourage you to save his testimony for the end of the trial.

Defense Witness

Andrew, A Negro Servant2

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


Andrew, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

Hearing the bells ring I came out. I met one of my acquaintances at the bottom of School Street holding his arm. He said that soldiers had begun to fight and were killing everybody. One had struck him with a cutlass and almost cut his arm off. He advised me not to go. I told him that a good club was as good as a cutlass and he had better go and see if he could not cut too.

I went to the Main Guard where I saw two centinels who were much enraged with the people who were crying, “who buys Lobsters.3” I stood there for about two or three minutes when I saw the people, about 20 of them, some with sticks run down by Jackson’s corner. We went on towards the whipping post. Some threw snow balls at the people round the Custom House. They returned none. Some boys who stood near the middle of the street said that they “have his gun and now will have him.” I then heard them give three cheers round the custom house. Then they ran up to the Town house to see if the main Guard would not turn out.

I went to the corner and 7 or 8 men came out. They were in a line when an officer came before them with a sword in his hand, a laced hat on, and a red coat, and I remember silver on his shoulder. They then filled-up and went down to the Custom house. The men seemed to be in great rage. The officer was either on the northerly side of them or in front of them. I was behind them. I did not see the officer as he passed the corner of the Town house. I stood at Peck’s corner.

The soldiers got down to the Custom’s house. The people gave 3 cheers. The boys at Pecks corner kept throwing snow balls toward the soldiers. I jumped off a post on which I stood and pushed through the crowd to get to the Customs house. I heard the people holler, “here comes Murray with the Riot Act.4” The crows turned about and pelted somebody who ran through Pudding Lane. I ran to Phillips corner.

I went through there to try to get to the Custom house and get through the people. When I was at the head of Royal Exchange lane I heard the Grenadier who stood next to the corner say “damn your blood, stand off, or back.” The people in the back were pushing in to see those who were closer to the soldiers and being pushed back by the Grenadier with his bayonet. A young fellow said, “Damn you, you bloody back Lobster, are you going to stab me?”

“By God I will,” he said.

A number of people said, “come away, let ‘em alone, you have nothing to do with ‘em.”

Turning around to see who was there, I saw the officer and two men who were talking to him. Some of the people were jumping on each others backs to hear what was being said. I heard somebody say, “Damn him, he is going to fire.” And then they all began to shout, gave three cheers, clapped hands and said, “Damn them, they dare not fire” and began to pelt the soldiers with snow balls. I saw snow balls thrown and saw the soldiers dodging and pushing their bayonets. I saw several snow balls hit them.

I was crowding to get as near to the officer as I could. A person who stood just behind me struck the Grenadier’s gun with a long stick as he was being pushed. The Grenadier told ‘em to draw back. If he had stepped from his station he might have killed me. I was just out of his reach.

Some that stood round me tried to go back. Some people came from Jackson’s corner saying “Damn ‘em, knock ‘em over, we are not afraid of ‘em.” A stout man forced his way through and came up between me and the Grenadier. He had a stick in his hand. I saw him swing at the officer. People were talking with the officer. I saw him dodge the stick and try to fend off the blow with his arm. The man then began to swing at the Grenadier’s gun who stood about a yard and a half from the officer on the right. I saw the Grenadier attempt to stick him with his bayonet. The man pushed the soldier’s gun aside with his left hand, stepped in and hit the Grenadier’s neck or shoulder with his club. It was a cord wood stick not very long.

As he struck the soldier I turned about, looked at the officer, and saw that there was a lot of movement. The stout man still had hold of the Grenadier’s bayonet. I later took this Grenadier to be the one who killed the Mulatto [Crispus Attucks].

While I was looking at the Captain, the people crowded me on between the soldiers. As the stout man gained the upper hand in his scuffle with the Grenadier, the crowd began crying, “kill him, kill him, knock ‘em over.” Thereupon the Grenadier stepped back, relieved himself, and began to jab at the people with his gun to beat them back. They rushed back very quickly, making a great noise or screeching, huzzaing, and big the soldiers to “fire, damn you, you dare not fire.” I jumped back and heard a voice cry “fire” and immediately the first gun fired. It seemed to come from the left wing… from the second or third man on the left. The officer was standing in front of me with his face towards the people. I am certain that the voice which shouted “fire” cam from beyond him.

The officer stood in front of the soldiers at a sort of a corner. I turned round and saw a Grenadier who stood on the Captain’s right swing his gun and fire. I took it to be Killroy. I looked a little to the right and saw a man drop. The Mulatto was killed by the first gun by the Grenadier on the Captain’s right. I was so frightened after the shooting that I did not know where I was. The next thing I remember I was in Dehone’s entry.


Defense Witness


Newton Prince

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


Newton Prince, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I heard the bell ring and ran out. I came to the Chapple and was told there was no fire but something better, there was going to be a fight. Some of the people had buckets and bags and some had clubs.

I went to the west end of the Town House where there were a number of people. I saw some soldiers coming out of the Guard house with their guns and running down one after another to the Custom house. Some of the people said “let’s attack the Main guard, or the centinel who is gone to King street.” Some said, “for God’s sake don’t touch the main guard.”

I went down to King street and saw the soldiers planted by the Custom house two deep. The people were calling them Lobsters, daring them to fire saying, “damn you, why don’t you fire.” I saw Captain Preston come out from behind the soldiers. He stood in the front at the right. He spoke to some people. The Captain stood between the soldiers and the gutter, about two yards from the gutter. I saw two or three people strike the soldiers guns with sticks. I was going off to the west of the soldiers and heard the guns fire and saw the dead carried off…

The people whilst striking on the guns cried, “fire, damn you, fire.”

I heard no orders given to fire, only the people in general cried “fire.”


Defense Witness


James Gifford

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


James Gifford, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

At about 10 o’clock I went to the main guard and found Captain Preston. He told me that he had sent a party of soldiers to protect the centinel. He said that the mob had attacked the soldiers so furiously that they fired upon them.


Defense Witness


Richard Palmes

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


Richard Palmes, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I was at the Coffee House a little later after 9 o’clock when I hear the bells ringing. I went up to King Street. I saw the guard in front of the Customs House walking quietly. I then went up by the Town House. People told me that the soldiers at Murray’s barracks were abusing the townspeople. I went there and saw a number of officers at the gate with guns and about 20 or 30 people in front of them. I asked the officer why he had his men out after 8 o’clock. “Do you mean to teach me my duty,” he asked. “No,” I replied, “just to remind you of it.” One of the officers said that the soldiers are going into the barracks and that every one should go home. Mr. Lamb told the people to go home and they went off.

Then I saw Mr. Pool Spear. I walked with him to the pump. Somebody there said that there was a rumpus in King Street. I went down. When I got there I saw Captain Preston at the head of 7 or 8 soldiers at the Custom house with their guns drawn up breast high and their bayonets fixed to their muskets. I found Theodore Bliss talking with the Captain. Bliss was saying, “why don’t you fire” or words to that effect. I don’t know what the Captain answered but Bliss then said, “… damn you why don’t you fire.” I was close behind Bliss. They were both in the front of the soldiers. Then I stepped immediately between them and put my left hand in a familiar manner on the Captain’s right shoulder to speak to him. With Mr. John Hickling looking over my shoulder, I said to Preston, “are your soldiers guns loaded?” He answered, “yes with ball and powder.”

“Sire, I hope you don’t intend for the soldiers to fire on the inhabitants,” I stated.

He said, “by no means.”

The instant he spoke I saw something resembling snow or ice strike the soldier who was standing just to the right of the Captain’s. At that time, he was the only soldier standing to the right of the Captain. The soldier instantly stepped one foot back and fired the first gun. At that time I had my hand on the Captain’s shoulder.

After the gun went off I heard the word “fire.” The Captain and I stood in front about halfway between the crowd and the muzzle of the soldiers’ guns. I don’t know who gave the word fire. I was then looking on the soldier who fired. The word “fire” was given loud. The Captain might have given the word and I not distinguish it.

After the word fire in about 6 or 7 seconds the soldiers on the Captain’s left fired and then the others one after another. The Captain stood still until the second gun was fired.

After I turned and saw the soldier who fired the first shot attempting to prick me by the side of the Captain with his bayonet. I had a large stick in my hand. I swung the stick and hit the soldier in his left arm, knocking the gun from his hand. I had not struck at anybody before that. Upon that I turned, thinking that the other soldiers would do the same and struck at anybody and hit Captain Preston. I was actually swinging at the soldier next to Preston but my foot slipped, my blow fell short, and I hit Captain Preston. Afterwards he told me that I had hit him on the arm.

When I heard the word “fire” the Captain’s back was to the soldiers and his face was toward me.

Before I recovered, the soldier who fired the first gun was attempting again to jab me with his bayonet. I tossed my stick in his face. He fell back and I jumped toward Royal Exchange Lane. He pushed at me there and fell down. I turned to catch his gun. Another soldier pushed at me and I ran off.

I soon returned and saw the dead being carried off. By that time the soldiers were gone. The gun which went off scorched the nap of my Surtout at the elbow.

The whole incident lasted about 45 seconds. There was enough time between firing of the first and second gun for the Captain to have spoken to his men. He stood leaning on his sword which was still in its sheath.

At the time of the shooting there was between 50 and 80 people at some distance from the soldiers and not crowding them. The crows in front of the soldiers was thin.


Defense Witness


Edward Hill

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


Edward Hill, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

A little after 9 o’clock I heard the bells. I came down as far as the Town house. I asked where the fire was and was told that there was none but the soldiers were killing the towns people. Some of the people said that they would take the centinel off of his post at the Custom house.

I was going down towards the Post Office and heard one or two guns fired. I turned back. When I got to Jackson’s corner, I heard two more. I went down towards the centinel and saw one gun fired. The bullet struck off of the stone wall. After all of the firing, Captain Preston put up the gun of a soldier who was going to fire and said, “fire no more, you have done mischief enough.”

Defense Witness


James Woodall

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


James Woodall, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I came into King Street, saw a great number of people there and a party of soldiers and an officer at the Main guard and followed them to the Custom house.

The sentry box was in the gutter and the sentinel fell into line with the soldiers. They were drawn up. I saw one soldier knocked down. His gun fell from him. I saw a great many sticks and pieces of sticks and ice thrown at the soldiers. The soldier who was knocked down took up his gun and fired directly.

Soon after the first gun was fired I saw a gentleman behind the soldiers in velvet or blue or black plush trimmed with gold. He put his hand towards the soldiers backs. Whether he touched them I know not and he said, “by god I’ll stand by you whilst I have a drop of blood,” and then said “fire.” Two guns went off then the rest – up to 7 or 8.

I stood between Captain Preston and Royal Exchange Lane.

The Captain, after, seemed shocked and looked upon the soldiers. I am very certain that he did not give the word “fire.” I did not hear the word but once until after all of the firing. The crowd said that it was only powder and dared them to fire.

I saw one person speak to the Captain when the first gun was fired. The people at the time of the firing were about 4 yards away from the soldiers.

The soldiers were in a single line. The gentleman behind them had a wig on.


Defense Witness


Matthew Murray

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


Matthew Murray, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I heard the bells and ran out and heard what was going on on King Street. I went in and got a broom handle. I went to King Street and saw no soldiers. I went to Murray’s Barracks. The soldiers were gone. They told me to go home.

Then I went down to King Street where I heard the barber’s boy say that “this is the man who struck me with the breech of his gun.” The soldier went to the steps and loaded his gun. They dared him to fire.

The guard came down. I saw them load their weapons. Somebody spoke to the Captain and told him that he had best withdraw because none of the people would interrupt him. I stood next to the soldier. I saw a stick or piece of ice strike him upon his right side after which he instantly fired and I left.

I heard no order given to fire. I stood within two yards of the Captain. He was in the front talking with a person whom I do not know. I was looking at the Captain when the gun was fired. The soldier who fired stood on the Captain’s right. I saw two or three snowballs thrown at the soldiers before the gun was fired, but none after I left immediately.

The Captain had a sword in his hand. I do not know whether he had a Surtout on but believe he had. I know Captain Preston by sight. He is the defendant.

A woman crowded by and spoke to the second soldier on the right. I think that if the Captain had given orders I would have heard anything loud.

Defense Witness


James Whitehouse

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


Jane Whitehouse, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I live near the Customs house. I heard a noise and went outside. I asked the centinel what was the matter. He didn’t know. Some people came by and said, “there’s the centinel, the bloody back rascal, let’s go kill him.”

They kept gathering throwing snow balls, oyster shells and chunks of wood at the centinel and forced him to move out of his box to the steps.

A little time after that I saw a party of soldiers coming from the Main Guard. An officer which proved to be Captain Preston was with them. He told his men to halt and the centinel to recover his gun, fall into his rank and march up the main guard. The centinel fell in and the men wanted to move forward to the Guard house but could not because of the riot.

The people called out, “fire, damn you why don’t you fire, you can’t kill us.”

I stepped toward the soldiers and heard a gentleman ask the Captain if he was going to order his men to fire. He said, “no Sir, by no means, by no means.”

A man – the centinel – then pushed me back. I stepped back to the corner. He bid me go away for I should be killed. A man came behind the soldiers and walked backwards and forwards, encouraging them to fire.

The Captain stood on the left about three yards. The man touched one of the soldiers upon the back and said “fire, By God I’ll stand by you.” He was dressed in dark colored clothes. I don’t remember if he had a surtout or any lace about him. He did not look like an officer. The man fired directly on the word and clap on the soldier. I am positive that the man who said fire was not the Captain. My attention was fixed on him, for the people said “there’s the officer, damn him, let’s kill him.” I am sure he gave no orders.

I saw the people throw things at the soldiers. I saw one man take a chunk of wood from under his coat, throw it at a soldier and knock him down. He fell on his face. His gun fell out of his hand. He was the right handed soldier near the sentry box. This was before any of the firing occurred. The man recovered himself and picked up his gun. The chunk was thrown a few minutes before the man clapped the soldier on the back.

The second gun went off about a minute after the first. I didn’t hear anybody say “fire” between the first and second shot.


Defense Witness


Dr. John Jeffries5

Anonymous Summary of Defense Evidence


Dr. John Jeffries, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says:

I was sent for at about 11 p.m. on March 5th and spent the night caring for the shattered arm of one Edward Payne who had been shot by the soldiers on King Street. The next morning I saw Mr. Patrick Carr, one of my patients. He was clearly dying from a wound caused by a musket ball. I was with him every day until he died. He knew at the time that he had no hope of living.

I asked him whether he thought the soldiers would fire. He told me he thought they were going to fire long before they did.

I asked him whether the soldiers were abused a great deal, after they went down there to King Street. He said, he thought they were.

I asked him whether he thought the soldiers would have been hurt, if they had not fired, he said he really thought they would, for he heard many voices cry out, “Kill them.”

I asked him then, whether he thought they fired in self defense. He said he really thought they did fire to defend themselves, and that he did not blame the man that shot him.


Appendix 7

Jury Instructions6

(The Charge of the Court)


Rex V. Preston

AT HIS MAJESTY’S SUPERIOR COURT OF

JUDICATURE, COURT OF ASSIZE AND GENERAL

GOAL DELIVERY; COURTY OF SUFFOLK MASSACHUSETTS

Members of the Jury:

You are considering the case of Rex v. Captain Thomas Preston.

Captain Preston has been charged with the crime of manslaughter. Captain Preston has pleaded not guilty.

The defendant, Captain Preston, is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. You are to presume that he is innocent until the prosecution presents evidence that is sufficiently enough to convince you beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty.

However, the prosecution is not required to prove the guilt of Captain Preston beyond all moral and legal certainty. Reasonable doubt is all that can be expected. Reasonable doubt means just what it says. It is a doubt of a fair minded, impartial juror, honestly seeking the truth.

If after considering all of the facts and circumstances of this case, your minds are wavering, unsettled, unsatisfied, then that is reasonable doubt and you must acquit the defendant (i.e. find him “not guilty”); but if that doubt does not exist in your minds as to the guilt of the accused, then you may convict the defendant (i.e. find him “guilty”).

English common law applies in this case. Captain Preston has been charted with the crime of manslaughter. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person without malice (i.e. evil intent or reason). It is a killing which results from a voluntary act committed during the heat of passion. In manslaughter the killing does not occur as a result of the need for self-preservation (i.e. to save one’s own life).

British law states that soldiers could use lethal force on civilians only when ordered to do so by the civilian authorities. In this case, in order to find Captain Preston guilty of manslaughter, you must determine if Captain Preston gave the order to fire. If you find that Captain Preston did not give the order to fire beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must find in favor of Captain Preston. If, however, you find beyond a reasonable doubt that Captain Preston gave the order to fire, then Captain Preston is guilty of manslaughter unless you find that he acted in self-defense.

The law provides that a person who kills another person but is acting in self defense is not guilty of manslaughter. A person acts in self defense when he is engaged in a sudden fight, retreats as far as he safely can and then, having no reasonable choice, kills his adversary in the defense of his own life. The burden of proving self defense is on the defendant. Therefore, if you find that Captain Preston gave no order to fire but you find that Captain Preston has proven to you that he acted in self-defense, then you must find in favor of Captain Preston. If, however, you find that Captain Preston gave the order to fire and that he was not acting is self defense, you must find Captain Preston guilty of manslaughter.

In deciding whether Captain Preston was acting in self defense, you may consider that the Mutiny Act passed by Parliament provides that the King of England has the power to stations British soldiers in Boston to keep the peace and aid the official whom he has sent to carry out laws such as the Townsend Acts. You may also consider that it is the duty of peace officers such as Captain Preston, to suppress riots and unlawful assemblies (gatherings). The common law allows peace officers the power to suppress riots and to raise a sufficient force to enable him to do it.

It is your job to weigh the evidence to determine what witnesses you will believe and what witnesses you will choose not to believe.

The verdict must be unanimous.

Appendix 8

The Deposition of Captain Thomas Preston7

(date unknown)


Not for students to see until after the activities relating to the Boston Massacre have been completed. Preston was not allowed to testify at the trial. The assumption was that an accused would lie.

The mob still increased and were outrageous, striking their clubs or bludgeons one against another, and calling out, come on you rascals, you bloody backs, you lobster scoundrels, fire if you dare, … damn you, fire and be damned, we know you dare not, and much more such language was used. At this time I was between the soldiers and the mob, parleying with, and endeavoring all in my power to persuade them to retire peaceable, but to no purpose. They advanced to the points of the bayonets, struck some of the and even the muzzles of the pieces, and seemed to be endeavoring to close with the soldiers. On which some well behaved persons asked me if the guns were charged. I replied yes. They then asked me if I intended to order the men to fire. I answered no, by no means, observing to them that I was advanced before the muzzles of the men’s pieces, and must fall a sacrifice if they fired: that the soldiers were upon the half cock8 and charged bayonets9, and my giving the word fire under those circumstances would prove me to be no officer. While I was thus speaking, one of the soldiers received a severe blow with a stick, stepped a little to one side and instantly fired… On this a general attack was made on the men by a great number of heavy clubs and snowballs being thrown at them, by which all our lives were in imminent danger, some persons at the same time from behind calling out, damn your bloods – why don’t you fire. Instantly three or four of the soldiers fired… On my asking the soldiers why they fired without orders, they said they heard the word fire and supposed it came from me. This might be the case as many of the mob called out fire, fire, but I assured the men that I gave no such order; that my words were, don’t fire, stop your firing…10


Appendix 9

Simplified Steps in a Mock Trial




  1. Calling of the case by the bailiff: “All rise. His Majesty’s Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery for the County of Suffolk, Massachusetts is now in session. Honorable Justice Trowbridge presiding.”



  1. Opening Statements: The prosecution has the burden of proof. Therefore, the prosecution gives the first opening statement, then the defense attorney. In the opening statements, the attorneys explain what their evidence will be and what they will try to prove.



  1. Presentation of the prosecution’s case: The prosecution’s witnesses are called to testify (direct examination) and other physical evidence is introduced. After each witness testifies under direct examination, the defense may cross-examine them (ask questions which will break down the story or discredit the witness.)



  1. Presentation of defendant’s case: Same as step three except that the witnesses for the defense are called (direct examination) and each one may be cross-examined by the prosecution.



  1. Closing statements: An attorney for each side reviews the evidence and asks the jury to decide in his or her side’s favor.



  1. Jury instructions: The judge explains to the jury appropriate rules of law that it is to consider in weighing the evidence. As a general rule, the prosecution must meet the burden of proof in order to prevail. In a criminal case, this burden is very high. In order that most innocent people do not lose their freedom, the prosecution must set out such a convincing case against a defendant that the jurors believe “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty.



  1. Jury deliberates and decides: In making a decision, the jury considers the evidence presented and decides which witnesses were most credible. Once the jury has reached a verdict, the jury foreperson writes the verdict on a slip of paper and hands it to the judge who reads it in “open court.”



  1. Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty, the judge pronounces the sentence.


Appendix 10

Stipulated Facts


At His Majesty’s Superior Court of Judicature

Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery, Boston

Rex v. Preston

Statement of Stipulated Facts

It is stipulated for the purpose of this mock trial, that the following facts have been properly introduced into evidence and may be relied on by both parties in the presentation of their case:

A

The 2000 British soldiers who were stationed in Boston in 1770 were legally garrisoned there since 1768.



B

Five colonists were killed on the night of March 5, 1770 as a result of shots fired by the British soldiers who were in front of the Customhouse on King Street. Three died instantly, one shortly thereafter. Patrick Carr died as a result of his wounds on March 14th.

C

There were nine soldiers present at the shooting counting Captain Preston. Seven shots were fired. Captain Preston was not carrying a gun.



D

Captain Preston was in command of the other eight soldiers at the time of the shooting. He was carrying a sword.

E

Captain Preston was not authorized by civilian authorities to give his men the order to fire.



F

All of the witness statements included in these case materials are authentic; no objections to their authenticity will be entertained.

G

Participants may rely on the information given in the foregoing Statement of Facts as true and accurate.



H

The indictment and the charge of the court are accurate in all respects; no objection to the indictment or charge will be entertained.


Appendix 11

Mock Trial Tips for Students

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