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The Boston Massacre. Historical Documents

While both documents are historical accounts of the Boston Massacre on March 5th, 1770, there are significant differences in the narratives. Unarguably, bias and political motivations are present in both, but from what is known by historians, Captain Preston’s account is more accurate. First, the description of the massacre itself or the time leading up to it by Deacon John Tudor is extremely short. He portrays it as nothing more than some young boys and men throwing snowballs at the soldiers. The account suggests that there was no threat, with “a number of people collected when the Capt commanded the soldiers to fire” (Tudor par. 4). Furthermore, Tudor indicates that the crowd began to rise up and bells were ringing only after the shots were fired to indicate that something was happening, which then resulted in defensive actions from the garrison of soldiers throughout the city. This portrayal of events is not completely true.

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Captain Preston’s account is more detailed and reflects reality as historians generally believe that the even occurred. While initially the harassment of the soldier at the post may have been innocent, by the time that the other soldiers led by Capt. Preston joined the scene, the crowd was rapidly growing, attracted by the bells that were ringing which signal commotion or fire, thus attracting even more people to the crowd. It is well-known that the soldiers withstood harassment for some time before first shots were fired and were potentially under immediate threat. According to historic accounts the mob was also armed, if not with guns then with melee weapons and by the time the shots were fired, there was significant discontent in the crowd which signaled unrest and intention to attack the soldiers. It is also known that the crowd sought to provoke the sentries to fire. Preston’s account that he did not want to provoke violence is further supported by the fact that the volley was not unified as it would on command, but rather random as to suggest that the soldiers were firing at will (Preston).

References

Preston, Thomas. “Captain Preston’s account of the Boston Massacre March 5 1770.” American History, 1770. Web.

Tudor, John. ” The Boston Massacre.” Digital History, 1770. Web.

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