Boston Massacre Site

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March 5, 1770

Boston Massacre

The Old State House, the oldest surviving public building in Boston, was built in 1713 to house the government offices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Here, in 1761, James Otis argued eloquently against the Writs of Assistance, which allowed British customs officers to search private warehouses and homes without warrants. Otis lost the case, but his impassioned speech was one of the events which led to the American Revolution. "Otis was a flame of fire!" recalled John Adams, ". . . American independence was then and there born."

On the ground in front of the Old State House, the cobblestone circle marks the site of the March 5, 1770 Boston Massacre. British soldiers of the 29th Regiment of Foot fired into an angry stone and snowball throwing mob, killing five. Escaped slave Crispus Attucks was among the five victims who died that day.

Patriot agitators, especially Samuel Adams, embellished the event and labeled it a massacre to stir up popular resistance, but after the trial of the soldiers, who were successfully defended by John Adams, tensions diminished. It is ironic that the false propaganda that was spread in 1770 is the version of the Boston Massacre that many Americans believe today.

For visitor information, please see:
Boston National Historical Park: www.nps.gov/bost

The Bostonian Society maintains the building as a museum of Boston history: www.bostonhistory.org

The Old State House is also part of the Boston Freedom Trail: www.thefreedomtrail.org

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