Question for the jury:
“Were the British soldiers guilty of murder,
or were they innocent, acting in
Juror Deliberation Worksheet Instructions:
Use the information and evidence contained in packets 1-5 to complete each of the following tasks as you work towards developing your verdict for this case.
A Note to all jurors:
A juror has the important duty of learning the facts of a case and then using those facts to decide on the case being tried. Therefore, it is important that each juror, in order to reach a proper decision, fully and clearly understands the facts.
This means that it is important for you to ask, as you learn about this case, for clarification on specific vocabulary, statements, or events you do not clearly understand.
An Incident in Boston on March 5, 1770
Background Briefing: What we know about what happened.
Before the incident 600 British soldiers had occupied Boston as a police force for two years. They were there to enforce British and tax and custom law that had been resisted by some Boston residents, often violently. The soldiers were not welcome by the townspeople of Boston and hostility had been growing between civilians and soldiers.
On March 5, 1770 a crowd of about 400 colonists (all men accept for one woman) confronted a squad of eight British soldiers. The crowd threw snow balls and other objects at the soldiers, many of the men in the crowd carried clubs. The eight soldiers loaded their muskets and formed a single line facing the crowd.
Their commander, Captain Thomas Preston, stood in front of his soldiers and asked the crowd to go home. But the crowd, far from drawing back, came close, calling out, "Come on you rascals, you bloody backs, you lobster scoundrels, fire if you dare, God damn you, fire and be damned, we know you dare not," and striking at the soldiers with clubs and a cutlass.
Someone yelled “Fire!” and shots rang out. The soldiers and the crowd battled briefly. As a result of this incident five Bostonians would die – three that night (Samuel Gray, Crispus Attucks, and James Caldwell) and two within a few days (Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr). Six other Bostonians were injured. Captain Preston and eight soldiers were arrested for murder.
Preparations for the trial began almost immediately. Witnesses were summoned to appear before the justices and give statements about what they saw, and the British military collected witness statements as well. A Boston lawyer, John Adams, was asked to represent Captain Preston. Adams took the case because he believed the defendant was entitled to a lawyer. He also agreed to defend the eight soldiers. The trials took place October 24-30 and November 27-December 5, 1770.
Additionally, may people rushed to publish either in newspapers, letters, or illustrations their version of what happened that night. Colonists called this incident the “Boston Massacre,” but there was great controversy about who was to blame for what happened that night. The controversies lasted for many years after this incident.
• Source Citation: "The Boston Massacre Trials (1754-1783)." American Eras. 8 vols. Gale • Research, 1997-1998. Reproduced in History Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/HistRC
• Boston Massacre Historical Society, http://bostonmassacre.net
“The Boston Massacre Files,” The Boston Society, http://bostonhistory.org/bostonmassacre
Juror Task #1:
Read the information contained in packet #1
(“A Background Briefing – What we know about what happened?”)
and complete the following activities:
Read through the background briefing and provide a brief summary – no more than 35 words – of what happened in Boston on March 5, 1770.
What was the immediate result of this event?
Reread the 1st four (4) paragraphs and complete the activity on the next page. In the empty box on the next page, use information from the Background Briefing to draw a picture of what happened that night in Boston.
Consider the following information when drawing the picture.
How many colonists were there?
What were the colonists doing?
How many soldiers were there?
What were the soldiers doing?
Where was the Captain Preston located? Place him in the illustration and identify which person is Preston.
Who were the dead and injured? Place and name them in the illustration.
After you have completed your illustration give it a title that tells what is going on in the drawing.
Use this space for your illustration.
Artwork by: ____________________________________
“An Incident in Boston on March 5, 1770
Account and Reporting of What Happened
Juror Task #2:
Read the two (2) documents that report what happened during the incident. Search for answers to questions about each document
Before you read the two documents in Packet 2, answer these questions.
When was each Document (A and B) written? How long after the actual incident was each written?
Document B __________________________________________
Before you read the document look for the author or source.
Who is the author or source or Document A?__________________
Predict who you think the author of Document A will blame for the incident._______________________________________________
Who is the author or source or Document B?__________________
Predict who you think the author of Document B will blame for the incident._______________________________________________
Document A - Captain Thomas Preston's Account of the Boston Massacre (13 March 1770), from British Public Records Office.
On Monday night, about 8 o'clock, two soldiers were attacked and beaten. About 9:00, some of the guards came and informed me the town inhabitants were assembling to attack the troops. They immediately surrounded the sentry posted there, and with clubs and other weapons, threatened him. I was soon informed by a townsman that their intention was to carry off the soldier from his post and probably murder him. This I feared might be a prelude to their looting the king's storehouse.
The mob still increased and were more 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, G-d damn you, fire and be damned, we know you dare not!”
Much more such language was used. At this time I was between the soldiers and the mob trying to persuade them to retire peaceably, but to no purpose. They advanced to the points of the bayonets, struck some of them and even the muzzles of the pieces.
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.”
While I was speaking, one of the soldiers received a severe blow with a stick, stepped a little on one side and instantly fired. I was turning to and asking him why he fired without orders, when I was struck with a club on my arm, which for some time deprived me of the use of it. If it had been placed on my head, the blow most probably would have destroyed me.
Then a general attack was made on my men by a great number of heavy clubs and snowballs being thrown at them. 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, one after another, and then three more fired in the same confusion and hurry. The mob then ran away, except three unhappy men who instantly expired (died). One was Mr. Gray at whose rope factory where prior quarrels took place; one more is since dead, three others are dangerously wounded, and four slightly wounded. The whole of this melancholy affair was transacted in almost 20 minutes. 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.”
In short, it was scarcely possible for the soldiers to know who said fire, or don't fire, or stop your firing.
END OF DOCUMENT A
According to Document A what happened in Boston on March 5, 1770?
Thirty or forty persons, mostly lads, gathered in King Street. Capt. Preston with a party of men with charged bayonets, came from the main guard to the commissioner's house, the soldiers pushing their bayonets, crying, “Make way!”
They stood by the custom house and, continuing to push people away, pricked some in several places. The people were shouting and, it is said, threw snow balls. Then, the Captain commanded the soldiers to fire; and with more snow balls coming, he again said, “Damn you, fire, be the consequence what it will!”
One soldier then fired, and a townsman with a cudgel (stick) struck him over the hands with such force that he dropped his firelock; and, rushing forward, the townsman aimed a blow at the Captain's head which grazed his hat and fell pretty heavy upon his arm. However, the soldiers continued the fire successively till seven or eight or, as some say, eleven guns were discharged.
By this fatal maneuver three men laid dead on the spot and two more were struggling for life; but what showed a degree of cruelty unknown to British troops, was an attempt to fire upon or push with their bayonets the persons who tried to remove the slain and wounded!
The dead are Mr. Samuel Gray, killed on the spot, the ball entering his head and beating off a large portion of his skull.
A mulatto man named Crispus Attucks, who was born in Framingham, but lately belonged to New-Providence and was here in order to go for North Carolina, was also killed instantly by two balls entering his breast, one of them goring the right lobe of the lungs and a great part of the liver most horribly.
Mr. James Caldwell, mate of Capt. Morton's ship, was killed by two balls entering his back.
Mr. Samuel Maverick, a promising youth of seventeen years of age, son of the widow Maverick, and an apprentice to Mr. Greenwood, ivory-turner, was mortally wounded; a ball went through his belly and was cut out at his back. He died the next morning.
A lad named Christopher Monk, about seventeen years of age, an apprentice to Mr. Walker, shipwright, was wounded; a ball entered his back about four inches above the left kidney near the spine and was cut out of the breast on the same side. It is apprehended [believed] he will die. A lad named John Clark, about seventeen years of age, whose parents live at Medford, and an apprentice to Capt. Samuel Howard of this town, was wounded; a ball entered just above his groin and came out at his hip on the opposite side. It is apprehended he will die.
END OF DOCUMENT B
5. According to Document B what happened in Boston on March 5, 1770?
When we read differing accounts of the same incident we must ask ourselves, “which account is most believable?” Using a 1 – 5 scale with 1 being “totally unbelievable” and 5 being “totally believable” - how would you rate the believability of each account?
Circle the number you decide is most accurate and explain.
Illustration 1: Three weeks after the incident the silversmith and patriot Paul Revere produced and distributed this engraving. Although he knew people who were eyewitnesses he probably was not there himself. It became the official patriot version of the incident.
Illustration 2: A later painting of the Boston Massacre corrects some of the inaccuracies of the Revere-Pelham engraving. The event is portrayed as taking place at night, which it did, and unlike the Revere-Pelham version soldiers are not lined up in military formation. Also, Crispus Attucks, the first victim of the massacre, is correctly represented as a black man.
The artist J.E. Taylor painted this picture.
Death of Attucks, Boston Massacre by J.E. Taylor, 1899
2. Support your answer by listing what information and evidence you have found, up to this point, most convincing and why?
3. What information and evidence you found least convincing and why?
5. What else do you want to know? _________________________________
In this packet you will find witness statements from the trial of the British soldiers. Three statements by townspeople were used by the prosecution to try and prove the soldiers guilty. Three statements were used by the defense to try and prove the soldiers innocent.
WITNESSES FOR THE PROSECUTION
Witness #1: John Cole
I saw the officer after the firing and spoke to the Soldiers and told 'em it was a Cowardly action to kill men at the end of their Bayonets. They were pushing at the People who seemed to be trying to come into the Street. The Captain came up and stamped and said, “Damn their bloods, fire again and let 'em take the consequence.”
I was within four feet of him…The Soldiers were pushing and striking with the Guns. I saw the People's Arms moving but no Sticks.
Witness #2: Benjamin Burdick
I heard the word fire and am certain that it came from behind the Soldiers. I saw a man passing busily behind who I took to be an Officer. The firing was a little time after. I saw some persons fall. Before the firing I saw a stick thrown at the Soldiers. The word fire I took to be a word of Command.
Witness #3: Robert Goddard
The Captain told the Boys to go home least there should be murder done. They were throwing Snow balls. [The boys] Did not go off but threw more Snow balls. The Capt. was 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 that struck the Captain came from among the People who were seven feet off. I saw no person speak to him. I was so near I should have seen it. After the Capt. said, “Damn your bloods fire,” they all fired one after another about 7 or 8 in all, and then the officer bid, “Prime and load again.”
THE END OF WITNESS ACCOUNTS FOR THE PROSECUTION
After reading over the statements of witnesses 1-3, follow the directions to fill in the charts below.
These people were asked to testify because the colonial government (representing the King) believed they had information to prove the guilt of the soldiers – that they committed murder.
As a juror – what specific piece of information from each witness might persuade you that the soldiers were guilty?
The soldiers stood with their pieces [guns] before them, to defend themselves. A party of colonists, about twelve in number, with sticks in their hands, stood in the middle of the street, gave three cheers, and immediately surrounded the soldiers, and struck upon their guns with their sticks...I saw the people near me on the left, strike the soldiers' guns, daring them to fire, and called them, Cowardly rascals,” for bringing arms against them....
Witness #5: Jane Whitehouse
A Man came behind the Soldiers and walked backwards and forward, 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.... He did not look like an Officer. The man fired directly on the word and a clap on the Shoulder. I am positive the man was not the Captain.... I am sure he gave no orders.... I saw one man take a chunk of wood from under his Coat throw it at a Soldier and knocked him. He fell on his face. His firelock was out of his hand.... This was before any firing.
Witness #6: James Woodall
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...
THE END OF WITNESS ACCOUNTS FOR THE DEFENSE
After reading the three witness statements for the defense, fill in the chart below.
These people were asked to testify because the lawyers defending the soldiers believed they had information that would prove the soldiers acted in self defense – that they were innocent.
As a juror – what specific piece of information from each witness might persuade you that the soldiers were innocent; that they acted in self-defense?
Specific piece of information from each eye witness account that might persuade you that the soldiers were innocent?
1. Ebenezer Bridgham
2. Jane Whitehouse
3. James Woodall
“An Incident in Boston on March 5, 1770
Arguments of Innocence and Guilt
Juror Task #5:
Read and analyze the closing arguments of this case.
Closing Argument #1 - From the Trial Summation of John Adams for the defense of the British soldiers.
(The following statement is adapted from the trial summation of John Adams in Rex v Wemms (The Soldiers Trial) - The Legal Papers of John Adams, No. 64, Rex v Wemms.)
You must place yourself in the situation of the British soldiers. Consider yourselves knowing that the prejudices of the world around you were against you; that the people around you thought you came to force them to obey laws and instructions which they hated… that the soldiers had no friends around them, all were against them…
Consider the people crying Kill them! Kill them! Knock them over! heaving snow-balls, oyster shells, and clubs…Consider yourselves in this situation and then judge whether a reasonable man, in the soldiers situation, would not have concluded they were going to kill him…
It is necessary to consider what is a riot. I shall give you a definition of it, “Wheresoever more than three persons use force or violence, for the accomplishment of any design whatever, all concerned are rioters.”
Were there not more than three persons in Dock-square? Did they not agree to go to King Street, and attach the Main guard? Where then is the reason for hesitation in calling it a riot? If we cannot speak the law as it is, where is our liberty? And this is law, that wherever more than three persons are gathered together to accomplish anything with force, it is a riot…
The next witness that knows anything was James Bailey…He saw some round the Sentry, heaving pieces of ice, large and hard enough to hurt any man, as big as your fist. One question is whether the Sentinel was attacked or not. If you want evidence of an attack upon him there is enough of it. Here is a witness, a citizen of the town, surely no friend to the soldiers…
He says he saw twenty of thirty round the Sentry, as big as one’s fist; certainly cakes of ice of this size man kill a man, if they happen to hit some part of the head. So that, here was an attack on the Sentinel, the result of which he had reason to fear, and it was wise in him to call for the Main-Guard…
Bailey swears Montgomery, a British soldier, fired the first gun…This witness is not prejudiced in favor of the soldiers. He swears he saw a man come up to Montgomery with a club, and knock him down before he fired, and that he not only fell himself, but his gun flew out of his hand, as soon as he rose he took it up and fired. If he was knocked down on his post, had he not reason to think his life in danger?...
When the crowd was shouting…and threatening life, the bells all ringing, the mob whistling and screaming…the people from all quarters throwing every kind of rubbish they could pick up in the street, and some…throwing clubs…Montgomery hit with a club and knocked down…what could he do? Do you expect him to do nothing?...
Bailey “Saw Attucks, the Mulatto, seven or eight minutes before the firing, at the head of twenty or thirty sailors…and he had a large stick, “So that Attucks…appears to have decided to be the hero of the night and lead this army…He formed them in the first place in Dock Square, and marched them up to King Street, with their clubs. They passed through the main-street up to the Main Guard, in order to make the attack. If this was not an unlawful assembly, there never was one in the world. Attucks with his marchers joined the people already at the sentry box. When the soldiers pushed the people off, this man [Attucks] with this party cried, “Do not be afraid of them. They dare not fire. Kill them! Kill them! Knock them over!” And they tried to knock their brains out.
THE END OF JOHN ADAMS’ CLOSING ARGUMENT
John Adams asks the jury to put themselves in the situation of the British soldier. Reread the first two paragraphs and summarize John Adams’ description of the incident from the perspective of a British soldier.
John Adams was a Patriot, yet he defended the British soldiers in court. In paragraph 4, after defining what a riot is, he says, “If we cannot speak the law as it is, where is our liberty?” Rewrite that sentence in 21st century English so a 5th grade student could understand his meaning.
Closing Argument #2 - From John Hancock, "Boston Massacre Oration," Delivered March 5, 1774.
On the fourth anniversary of the massacre, March 5, 1774, John Hancock delivered the most memorable oration of his career before "a vast crowd" and "rainy eyes." John Adams found the speech "elegant." Hancock would, of course, two years later become a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His large and flowing signature inspired the use of his name in signing ceremonies of all sorts: "Put your 'John Hancock' right here."
Men, Brethren, Fathers, and Fellow-Countrymen:
It was easy to foresee the consequences which so naturally followed upon sending troops into America to enforce obedience to acts of the British Parliament, which neither God nor man ever empowered them to make. It was reasonable to expect that troops, who knew the errand they were sent upon, would treat the people whom they were to subjugate, with a cruelty and haughtiness which too often buries the honorable character of a soldier in the disgraceful name of an unfeeling ruffian.
But come to the actions of that dismal night, when in such quick succession we felt the extremes of grief, astonishment, and rage; when heaven in anger, for a dreadful moment, allowed hell to take the reins; when Satan, with his chosen band, spilled New England's blood, and polluted our land with the dead bodies of her guiltless sons! Let this sad tale of death never be told without a tear; let not the heaving bosom cease to burn with a manly indignation at the barbarous story; let every parent tell the shameful story to his listening children until tears of pity glisten in their eyes, and boiling passions shake their tender frames; and on the anniversary of that ill-fated night, let all America join in one common prayer to heaven that the inhuman, unprovoked murders of the fifth of March, 1770, planned by England’s Officers, and treacherous scoundrels in Boston, and executed by the cruel hand of Captain Preston and his blood-thirsty soldiers, may ever stand in history without a parallel!
THE END OF JOHN HANCOCK’S CLOSING ARGUMENT
In paragraph 1, John Hancock says that it was easy to see the negative consequences of the presence of British troops in America. What sentence shows that Jahn Hancock thought the British had no right to do that in the first place?
John Hancock gives an emotional speech about the British soldiers, calling them Satan’s band and calling Captain Preston cruel. Find 2 or 3 more examples of language used by John Hancock to stir the emotions of the jury.
Were the British soldiers guilty of murder, or were they innocent, acting in self-defense?
Use the information and evidence gathered in juror tasks 1-5 to write an argument about whether you believe the soldiers were guilty of murder, or innocent, acting in self-defense? Your task is to persuade your fellow jurors that your judgment is the right one for this case.
In writing your decision, a clear and thoughtful multi-paragraph response to the question about the British soldiers will include
An short introduction that includes your decision and the most important reason(s) for that decision.
Body paragraphs that describe what you think happened that evening in Boston using the evidence you thought was most persuasive. Your counter-argument will include reasons why the opposing side’s evidence was unconvincing.
A conclusion that thoughtfully summarizes your decision as you have argued it in your verdict.