· March 5
· The Boston Massacre leads to the death of five colonists
· Boston had been living with British troops for close to two years before the sound of gunfire was heard. Ostensibly there at the request of Governor Bernard and Boston's customs commissioners to quell colonial lawlessness, the soldiers found they had very little to do. To the chagrin of the governor and commissioners, no danger materialized from which the soldiers might rescue them. Neither Governor Bernard nor his replacement, Thomas Hutchinson, could find justification for declaring martial law. With Boston still under their control, city magistrates invoked dusty ordinances and antiquated bylaws to harass the troops, and citizens flung taunts at them as they passed. A terrible hostility hung in the air between the soldiers and the colonists as members of each group walked down the streets, going about the business of living in dangerously close proximity.
The details of the afternoon on which the antagonism flared into real conflict are obscure. It was a freezing day in March when a noisy crowd of troublemakers gathered in front of the Boston Custom House, and began throwing snowballs and stones at the British sentry, who summoned help. A small contingent under Captain Thomas Preston responded, and for a few moments, the little band of redcoats stood together tightly on the steps, tensely facing the mob. In the building behind them, some of the commissioners responsible for bringing troops to America peered uneasily out of the windows.
What happened next is not quite clear. Some said that the mob began daring the soldiers to "Fire! Fire!" Others thought that the first part of Captain Preston's order to "Hold your fire!" got lost in the shouting. A British soldier, who later claimed he had heard the order to fire, shot into the crowd. The mob surged forward, and the panicked British began shooting at unarmed people. Five colonists were killed, and six more were wounded.
Those who were in the mob that day were not heroes, but mischief-makers. On the other hand, the British soldiers were professionals, and should not have panicked. Samuel Adams made the most of the tragic incident, using it as propaganda to hasten the war for independence. His cousin, however, was compelled by conscience to ensure that the eight British men received a fair trial. Braving a ferocious tide of public sentiment that blamed the redcoats for what was already being called "the Boston Massacre," John Adams-one of the ablest lawyers in the colonies-volunteered to defend the soldiers in court. Six were found not guilty and two others were convicted of manslaughter, rather than murder.
Governor Hutchinson acceeded to colonial demands that the troops be removed from the town, and for the next three years, only one regiment remained in Massachusetts, on an island in Boston Harbor. The Board of Commissioners continued unchecked
· April 12
· All provisions of the Townshend Act are repealed, except for the duty on tea.
· A committee of inquiry appointed by the town of Boston and headed by James Bowdoin (1726-1790), a merchant and politician in the community, prepared "A Military Combination: a Report of a Committee of the Town of Boston." This report attributed the Boston Massacre to tensions arising between the colonists and the British as a result of the various acts of Parliament taxing America unfairly. It also appealed to the British Bill of Rights, according to which it is against the law to raise and keep a standing army in a time of peace, and blamed the British Board of Commissioners, whose job was to oversee trade in the colonies, for quartering troops in America "in direct violation of an act of Parliament."
· June 9
· An angry colonial mob burns the British ship Gaspee, off the coast of Rhode Island.
· The Gaspee, a customs schooner, was stationed in Rhode Island for the purpose of enforcing the Navigation Acts and