Browsing: Boston Massacre

Boston Massacre and the Rise to Prominence during the trial.

On March 5th, 1770 a fight between British soldiers and colonial residents broke near the Customs House in Boston, five colonial residents were shot and killed by British soldiers. Bostonians called this bloodshed the Boston Massacre. Even though the event happened more than two centuries ago, people still debate whether the responsibility falls within the British soldiers or the colonial mob. Nevertheless, we all agree on its importance as it led to the Late night on Monday, March 5th a crowd gathered in front of the Customs House confronting eight British soldiers and their commander, Irishman Captain Thomas Preston. Forming…

Since 1765 the people of Boston had been heading protests against British taxation, first against the Stamp Act and then in 1767 against the Townshend Acts. Citizens believed that Britain did not have the right to tax them because they did not elect their representatives in Parliament.  Only the Massachusetts Assembly, whose members were elected every year, had the right to levy taxes on its citizens. Riots and protests were common occurrences as well as attacks on tax officials. On October 1768 troops arrived in Boston requested by Governor Francis Bernard.  The purpose of the 14th and 29th regiments was…

At the end of March 1770, just three weeks after the , a grand jury had indicted Captain Preston and his men as well as four civilians accused of having fired from the window of the Customs House. The soldiers of the twenty-ninth regiment accused of murder were William Wemms, James Hartigan, William McCauley, Hugh White, Matthew Kilroy, William Warren, John Carrol and Hugh Montgomery. If found guilty they could face the death penalty. Preston and his soldiers could not find a legal representative counsel, they approached several lawyers without success until 35-year old John Adams agreed to head their…

The following is a transcript of the summation of John Adams in Rex v Wemms, The Soldiers Trial.   Tuesday, NINE o’Clock, the Court met according to adjournment, and Mr. ADAMS proceeded: May it please your Honours, and you Gentlemen of the Jury, I yesterday afternoon produced from the best authorities, those rules of law which must govern all cases of homicide, particularly that which is now before you; it now remains to consider the evidence, and see whether any thing has occurred, that may be compared to the rules read to you; and I will not trouble myself nor…

The  had brought Adams great success as a lawyer. Within a decade of establishing his practice he had one of the heaviest caseloads of any lawyer in Massachusetts, nearly 450 cases. His clients were wealthy merchants, politicians and the country’s elite. To add to his success as a lawyer Adams was chosen to be the secretary of the Suffolk County’s new bar association and a member of the House of Representatives. At the beginning of 1771 Adams fell ill from exhaustion and stress from the demands of his practice and his new political obligations. He and his family moved back…