The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre
By Cathy Pearl
England had tried to tax the colonies many times. The colonists
fought against the taxes. They thought the taxes were unfair. They
did not want to help England pay for the French and Indian War.
England and the colonists were very unhappy. Soon, there would be
a disaster.
England made new taxes for the colonists in 1767. The taxes
were called the Townshend Acts. It put duties on glass and tea. A
duty is a tax on imported goods. England hoped the colonists would be happier with a duty. Not
all of the colonists would have to pay the tax.
The colonists were not fooled. They knew the Townshend Acts were another way to raise
money for England. The colonists started another boycott. Women made their own cloth. They
refused to buy English tea.
England sent soldiers to Boston. On March 5, 1770, a group of men and boys started to
bother a soldier. They threw snowballs and oyster shells at him. The soldier was worried. He sent
for more soldiers to help him.
The crowd continued to grow. It grew into a large mob. One soldier was hit with a snowball.
He fell down. The other soldiers fired into the crowd. Five people died. Six people were
wounded. One of the first people to die was Crispus Attucks. He was a black sailor.
The next day, nine soldiers were arrested. They were charged with murder. They needed a
lawyer. John Adams was a lawyer in Boston. He did not like England. He still agreed to defend
the soldiers. He thought that everyone deserved a fair trial. He wanted to show the world that the
colonists believed in justice.
Adams said that the crowd had started it. The soldiers felt like they were in danger. They
fought back to protect themselves. He made a very good argument.
The jury agreed with John Adams. Seven of the soldiers were found not guilty. Two soldiers
were found guilty of other crimes. A brand was put on their thumbs. Nobody went to jail.
Colonists were angry. They thought that England should not have soldiers in Boston. Paul
Revere made a picture that showed the soldiers shooting the colonists. Samuel Adams wrote
letters to other colonists. He wanted to make people angry about the shooting.
After the Boston Massacre, the Townshend Acts were cancelled. England did keep the duty
on tea. Colonists stopped boycotting English goods. They only boycotted tea.
After the Boston Massacre, people calmed down. Many people hoped that the worst was
over. They thought England and America could get along.
Other colonists did not agree. They used it as a reason to fight against England. They
thought America should keep fighting back. These colonists wanted America to be free. Their
plan would work. War was coming to the colonies.
1. Who was Crispus Attucks?
2. Why did John Adams agree to defend English soldiers in court?
The Boston Tea Party
The Boston Massacre was over. England had repealed most of the new laws and taxes. They
had kept the tax on tea. England tried to enforce the tax on tea in 1774. This time more colonists
started to think it was time to rebel. They wanted to finally be free of England.
One million American colonists drank tea twice a day. The British East India Company
brought most of the tea to the colonies. They would sell the tea to merchants in the colonies. The
merchant sold the tea to the colonists. The merchant would sell the tea for a little more than he
paid for it. This way everyone made money.
Soon the British East India Company was broke. A lot of
tea was not being sold. It sat in warehouses. Colonists would
not buy the tea. They did not want to pay the taxes. Colonists
did not think it was right for England to tax America.
Parliament tried to help the British East India Company. They passed the Tea Act in 1773.
The company did not have to sell their tea to colonial merchants. They could sell it to the
colonists. Colonists would still have to pay the tea tax. They would save money though. They
would not have to pay the higher price that tea merchants charged.
England thought this would make the colonists happy. They would not have to pay as much
for the tea. England was wrong. Tea merchants were angry because the tea would not be sold to
them first. They would lose a lot of money. People who drank tea were also angry. They thought
it was a trick. England was trying to trick them into accepting the tea tax. This meant they had
the right to tax the colonists.
A new boycott was started. Women made tea out of other things. They used raspberry leaves.
Some people called it freedom tea. People started to drink coffee instead. Groups of colonists did
not let the ships unload their tea.
Three ships came to Boston in November 1773. The governor said that they should unload
their tea. Colonists did not agree. On December 16, a group went to a church. They sent a
message to the governor. They wanted the governor to send the ships away. He would not. He
told the colonists the ships could unload the tea.
Another group of people suddenly came to the meeting. They were dressed as Native
Americans. They waved hatchets in the air. These colonists left the meeting and went to the
harbor. They went on the ships. They opened up the tea and dumped it into the harbor. What they
did became known as the Boston Tea Party.
The colonists had made their point. They showed how unhappy they were with the tax. It had
only taken a short time to dump the tea in the harbor. The effects of what they did would last a
long time. England was very angry. They would punish Boston for destroying the tea. Colonists
began to see that war was coming soon.
1. Why did the Tea Act make tea merchants AND colonists angry?
2. What was the Boston Tea Party?
Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine was born on January 29, 1737. His family was very poor. Thomas went to
school for a little while. His father ran out of money to send him. Thomas' father made him an
apprentice. Thomas had to learn how to make corsets. A corset is a kind of clothing. It is used to
make people look thinner.
Thomas did not do well at this job. He went to work at sea. He was only 19. He didn't do well
at this either and went to England. He worked as a tax officer. He was fired twice in four years.
Soon, he met Benjamin Franklin. Ben helped Thomas move to Philadelphia.
In 1776, Thomas wrote Common Sense. Thomas had only been in the colonies a little more
than a year. Common Sense was 47 pages long. Thomas used simple writing. He wanted all the
colonists to read it.
The writing attacked England. It said that the colonists should be free. Common Sense was
very popular. A lot of people read it. Colonists bought 120,000 copies. It was a bestseller.
Thomas tried to tell the colonists why they should be free. He said the colonists did not owe
the king anything. England had only helped the colonists to make money for England. Colonists
were hurt by England's laws and taxes.
Common Sense changed many colonists' minds. George Washington noticed how the
colonists paid attention. He said it should be read to all of his troops. Many colonists had hoped
to settle with Britain peacefully. Now they wanted to be free.
Later he went back to Europe. He wrote an article about the French Revolution. England said
that he was an outlaw. England wanted to arrest him. Thomas ran away to France.
Thomas got in trouble in France, too. He was arrested there. He was almost hanged. James
Monroe, an American who later became president, helped free him. Thomas Jefferson asked
Paine to come back to America. Paine was given a house in New York. Congress also gave him
Thomas Paine died on June 8, 1809, in New York City. Only six people came to his funeral.
A few years later his bones were dug up and taken back to England. Today, no one knows where
Thomas Paine's bones are. Some people think they are in France.
Thomas was not just a writer. He was also an inventor. He worked on the steam engine and a
smokeless candle. England gave him a patent for an iron bridge. Thomas Edison used some of
Paine's ideas in his inventions.
Thomas Paine was an important man. Common Sense changed many colonists' minds. They
now wanted to be free from England. People still use quotes from the pamphlet today.
1. What was a corset?
2. What was Common Sense?
Declaration of Independence
Almost everyone has heard of the Declaration of Independence. It
is a very important piece of paper. Many people go to see it every
year. Thomas Jefferson wrote most of it. He was a very quiet man. His
friends knew he was a great writer. They knew his writing was clear.
He would be able to tell England how the colonists felt.
He finished it in late June of 1776. It was read to the Continental
Congress. They changed it very little. On July 4, 1776, it was
accepted. Most people don't know that only two people signed it on
July 4th. Almost everyone else signed it on August 2nd. The last
person didn't sign it until almost five years later.
The first person to sign the Declaration of Independence was John Hancock. He wrote his
name very large. He wanted to be sure the King of England would be sure to see it.
Copies of the Declaration of Independence were sent to the colonies. Many patriots were
very excited. There were parties to celebrate. In New York, the patriots tore down a statue of the
king. People shot cannons for hours in Boston.
The Declaration of Independence has a beginning and three main parts. The beginning is
called a preamble. The first part talks about natural rights. These are rights that people are born
with. Jefferson wrote "that all men are created equal." At the time the Declaration of
Independence was written, this was not true. African Americans were still being owned as
slaves. They hoped that the Declaration of Independence would help to free them.
The first part also says that people have a government to protect their rights. If the
government does not do that, the people should get rid of the government. This would help
people to protect themselves.
The second part tells about the things that Britain had done wrong. Jefferson told the king
that people did not like the soldiers in the colonies. He complained about all the taxes. These
included the taxes on tea and sugar. Jefferson wrote about all these things to show the king that
the colonists had the right to fight back. He said that the colonists had tried to talk to the king
about these things and he had not listened.
The last part of the Declaration of Independence tells Britain that the colonies are now the
United States of America. Britain had no control over them any longer. The United States was a
free country. It also said that the United States could trade and deal with any country that it
wanted to.
The king did not like the Declaration of Independence. He did not agree with what it said. He
sent ships to the United States. The war had officially started.
Today the Declaration of Independence is in Washington, D.C. It is very faded. People did
not take good care of it during the 1800s. Today, guards watch it during the day. It is housed in
special cases. These cases protect it from light and temperature change. At night, it is housed in a
special vault. People want to make sure it lasts a long time.
1. Who wrote most of the Declaration of Independence?
2. Why did John Hancock sign his name so large on the Declaration of Independence?
3. What are natural rights?
4. What does the last part of the Declaration of Independence say?