The Boston Massacre, called The Incident on King Street by the British, was an incident on March 5, 1770, in which British Army soldiers killed five civilian men. British troops had been stationed in Boston, capital of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, since 1768 in order to protect and support crown-appointed colonial officials attempting to enforce unpopular Parliamentary legislation.
Amid ongoing tense relations between the population and the soldiers, a mob formed around a British sentry, who was subjected to verbal abuse and harassment. He was eventually supported by a small company of troops, who were subjected to verbal threats and thrown objects. They fired into the crowd, apparently without orders, instantly killing three people and wounding others. Two more people died later of wounds sustained in the incident.
The crowd eventually dispersed after Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson promised an inquiry, but reformed the next day, prompting the withdrawal of the troops to Castle Island. Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder.
Defended by Patriot lawyer John Adams, six of the soldiers were acquitted, while the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. Depictions, reports, and propaganda about the event, notably the colored engraving produced by Paul Revere (shown at right), further heightened tensions throughout the Thirteen Colonies. The event is widely viewed as foreshadowing the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War five years later.