238 years ago today, British troops fired into an angry mob and slaughtered five colonists in Boston. American patriots soon referred to the incident as “The Boston Massacre.”
Although America did not declare independence until over six years later, the incident served as one of critical incidents toward the drive to independence. The good people of Boston would commemorate the anniversary of the incident through various gatherings, speeches, etc. The orators on such occasions enlivened the spirits of the colonists to maintain their liberties and freedoms in the face of British oppression.
In a paradoxical manner, the Boston Massacre also revealed the inner strength of America’s commitment to our First Principles. A leading revolutionary figure and future President of the United States – John Adams – defended the British captain and soldiers at trial. Although he was concerned about his law practice, reputation, and safety, he felt the rule of law and justice required a fair trial and able defense. The captain, and 6 of 8 soldiers were acquitted.
Adams’s service was a tribute to liberty, the rule of law, and justice – and something that is almost unimaginable today – the risking of a prominent politician’s reputation to do the right thing. Adams recalled his defense as “one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.” As usual, he was right.
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