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The Writings of Samuel Adams, volume II (1770 - 1773) by Samuel Adams

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deplorable State of the Militia of this Province. But have heretofore
refrained from any public mention of it least some Misconstruction
should be put upon it.

But by the last Advices from GREAT BRITAIN, the NATIONS of Europe
appear to be upon the Eve of a general War; and perhaps America may
be the object in the Eye of some of those Naions.

And when some of the Regiments within this Province are destitute of
Field-Officers, and many Companies without Captains or Subalterns,
the Arms of the Militia we fear are deficient, and military Discipline
too much neglected.

Duty to his Majesty, and a Regard to our own Safety constrain us to
Address your Honor, praying that you would be pleased (as soon as may
be) to fill up the Vacancies in the several Regiments (wherever such
Vacancies are) with such Persons as to your Honor shall seem meet:
And that your Honor would be pleased to use your Endeavours that the
several Officers carefully Discharge the Trust reposed in them. And
should any Amendments in, or Addition to the Laws for regulating the
Militia of this Province be thought needful, at the next Session of
the General Court the House of Representatives will chearfully do all
in their Power towards putting the Militia on a respectable Footing.

1On November 19, 1770, Samuel Adams was appointed a member of a
committee to draft a message to the Lieutenant Governor with reference
to the vacancies in the militia. On the following day Adams reported
to the House a draft, which was accepted.


[Boston Gazette, November 26, 1770.]

I have thought of several things that have taken place since the
present a-----n1 began, which must needs have given sensible pleasure
to every friend of this province, and possibly were alluded to in a
late pr-----n.2 ---In the first place, the friends of government have
so far prevailed against the faction, as to get the non-importation
plan broke thro’, which had for so long time embarrassed the Ministry
in thier laudable efforts to ESTABLISH A REVENUE in the colonies. The
consequence of this, it is hoped, will be, that the worthy
Commissioners of the customs will be continued; and the troops which
have so eminently protected the lives, and reformed the morals of the
people, will be reinstated; so that the well-affected may enjoy their
places and PENSIONS without molestation from the vulgar. In the next
place, our Castle-William is taken out of the hands of the rude
natives, and put under the government of regular forces; this was an
admirable manoeuvre, which has occasioned the highest joy in the
friends of government, (thank his ----- for it) and in proportion
damp’d the spirits of the faction. And then, such a grand appearance
of tall ships of war in our capital harbour, which were certainly
designed to show us the marks of the greatest respect, (for what other
end could the wise ministry have had in view) and may serve to make
up for the loss of troops, if we should unfortunately not be favoured
with more! --There is also the advantage which his H----r the Lt.
G-----r must reap from some late instructions, which, no doubt, “are
founded in wise reasons,” whereby the great defects in our Charter,
which the friends of government have been long complaining of, may
be supply’d. --I might mention also, a late remarkable deliverance
from death and danger, (blessed a-m-----n!) for it would have been a
great discouragement to the efforts of government. --But no more--
these may be thought to be matters of great thankfulness, and may
suitably employ our minds at the approaching solemnity.



Cambridge, Nov. 20, 1770.



[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

Boston Novr 21 1770


Ever since I recd your favr of Sept 222 I have been incessantly
employd in the Genl Assembly which met AGREABLE TO INSTRUCTIONS at
Har[vard] Coll[ege] in Cam[bridge]. This I hope will be some Apology
for my not acknowleging it before.

I had recd a Letter from Mr John Neufville Chairman of the Come of
Merchts in Charlestown, inclosing Letters for the Sons of Liberty in
Boston Connecticutt & N Hampshire. The two last of which I forwarded
as soon as possible to such Gentn in the repsective places as I judgd
worthy so excellent a Character. That which was directed for Boston
I unseald, professing my self a Son of Liberty but found it was
designd for the Trade, with whom I was not connected, but as an
Auxiliary in their Nonimportaton Agreement. I therefore deliverd it
to the Chairman of the Come here, and it was read with very great
Approbation, in a large Meeting of the Body of the people. I desire
you wd make my Compts and Apology to Mr Neufville. I verily believd
that the Come of Merchants had duly honord his Letter by returning
an Answer to it, as they had orderd it to be publishd in our papers;
and I candidly suppose they had the same Expectation from me which
may be the occasion that the Letter remaind unanswerd.

The Nonimportation Agreemt since the Defection of New York is entirely
at an end. From the Begining I have been apprehensive it wd fall
short of our Wishes. It was continued much beyond my Expectation:
There are here & I suppose every where, men interrested enough to
render such a plan abortive. Thro the Influence of the Come & Tories
here, Boston had been made to APPEAR in an odious Light; but I wd
not have you believe it to be the true Light. The Merchts in general
have punctually abode by their Agreemt, to their very great private
loss; Some few have found means to play a dishonorable Game without
Detection, tho the utmost pains have been taken. The Body of the
people remaind firm till the Merchts receded. I am very sorry that
the Agreemt was ever enterd into as it has turnd out ineffectual.
Let us then ever forget that there has been such a futile
Combination, & awaken our Attention to our first grand object. Let
the Colonies still convince their implacable Enemies, that they are
united in constitutional Principles, and are resolvd they WILL NOT be
Slaves; that their Dependance is not upon Merchts or any particular
Class of men, nor is their dernier resort, a resolution BARELY to
withhold Commerce, with a nation that wd subject them to despotic
Power. Our house of reps[sic] have appointed a Come to correspond
with our friends in the other Colonies,3 & AMERICAN MANUFACTURES shd
be the constant Theme.

Our young men seem of late very ambitious of making themselves
masters of the art MILITARY.

1Of Charleston, South Carolina.
2Asking why an earlier letter of the Charleston committee had not
been answered. A copy of Timothy’s letter is in S. A. Wells, Samuel
Adams and the American Revolution, vol., i., p. 292.
3Consisting of Samuel Adams, John Adams, Hancock, Hall and Cushing;
appointed November 7, 1770.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]

Boston 23 Novr 1770


Capt Scott being detaind by a contrary Wind, and the General Assembly
being now prorogud,1 I have an Opportunity of writing in Addition to
my Letter of the 16 Instt & by the same Conveyance.

As soon as I heard of the Death of our worthy Friend Mr De Berdt, I
was determind, if the House should come to the Choice of an Agent, to
give my Vote for yourself; and I was confirmd in my Resolution when I
found by your Letter of the 5 June2 that such an Appointmt would be
agreable to you. But being afterwards told by a Friend of yours that
you were desirous yourself that Dr Lee might be chosen, which by no
means lessened my Opinion of your Merit, & having also a great
Opinion of Dr Lee, I thought myself happy in a Conclusion that your
Inclination perfectly coincided with my own Judgment. At the same
time, such was my Opinion of your honest Zeal for the Rights of
America and of your Ability to defend them that I could with equal
Satisfaction have voted for Mr Sayer. I am perfectly of your Opinion
that no man shd be the object of our Choice who holds any place at
the Will of the present Administration; how far the House have been
influencd by this Principle you are able to judge.

You will observe by the inclosd papers, to how great a degree
ministerial Instructions are enforcd here. They not only prescribe to
the Assembly which ought to be free the forms of Legislation in the
most essential Parts, but even annihilate the Powers of the Govr
vested in him by Charter.3 Could it possibly be imagind that a man
who is bone of our Bone, & flesh of our flesh--who boasts that his
Ancestors were of the first Rank & figure in the Country, who has had
all the Honors lavishly heapd upon him which his Fellow Citizens had
it in their power to bestow, who with all the Arts of personal
Address professes the strongest Attachmt to his native Country & the
most tender feeling for its Rights. Could it be imagind htat such a
Man shd be so lost to all sense of Gratitude & publick Love, as to aid
the Designs of despotick power for the sake of rising a single step

“Who would not weep if such a Man there be
Who would not weep if H-----n were he.”

Aut Caesar aut nullus, is inscribd on the Hearts of some Men who have
neither Caesars Learning nor Courage. Caesar three times refusd the
Crown; His Heart & his Tongue evidently gave each other the Lye. Our
modern GREAT MAN, would fain have it thought that he has refusd a
Government, which his Soul is every day panting after & without the
Possesion of which his Ambition & Lust of Power will perpetually
torment him.

The Intelligence in Your Letter of the 18 Sept which I have just now
with pleasure receivd, does not at all surprize me--”His former
Letters” “wrote before Bernard embarkd for England” “have been equally
oppugnant to the Form of your Govt”--And yet this very Man gives out,
that in six months, the Province will be convincd that his Letters are
written in defence of our Charter! So I remember Bernard himself, not
long before his own Letters returnd, declard to both Houses of
Assembly, that if he was at Liberty to make publick the Letters he had
written to the several Boards in favor of the Province, his Enemies
wd blush.--Why does not this Man make his Letters publick? Would not
a Roman Senator have seizd the opportunity of appeasing the Jealousys
of the angry Citizens? But the Body of the people are contemptible.4
This People who know not the Law are accursed, said a haughty Jewish
priest. It has been his Principle from a Boy, that Mankind are to be
governd by the discerning few--and it has ever since been his
Ambition to be the Hero5 of the few.

I have long since been of your Opinion that few great Men in Britain
are entitled to an American Confidence--They will all in their Turns
clamour for us while it is their Interest so to do.--It is the
Business of America to take Care of herself--her salvation as you
justly observe depends upon her own Virtue. Arts & Manufactures aided
by Commerce have raised Great Britain to its present Pitch of
Grandeur. America will avail herself by imitating her. We have already
seen her troops and AS WE HAVE A PROSPECT OF A WAR I hope I may safely
tell you that our YOUNG MEN begin to be ambitious of making themselves
perfect Masters of the Art MILITARY. Amidst the innumerable Evils
which we complain of from the bad policy of YOUR Ministry, this is
the happy Effect of Britains transplanting her Arms in America.

1The prorogation, on November 20, was until January 23, 1771; the next
session actually began April 3, 1771.
2Delivered by Richard Cary. A copy is in S.A. Wells, Samuel Adams and
the American Revolution, vol. i., pp. 293, 294.
3At this point the words “Good God!” are crossed out.
4Before alteration, this sentence read: “But the Body of the people
are too contemptible to be favord with a Sight of them.”
5Originally “Head.”


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library; a text, with variations, is
in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i., pp. 341, 342.]

Boston Novr 23 1770


When you embarkd for London I promisd you I would write by the next
Ship. I did not write--but it was owing to incessant Avocations at
Cambridge & not to an unmindfulness of my promise or a Want of
Inclination to fulfil it. I hope ere now you are safe arrivd. You are
then a Sojourner in one of the most opulent and most luxurious Cities
in the World. Musick is your dear Delight--there your taste will be
improvd. But I fear that Discord will too often discompose you, and
the rude Clamors against your Country will vex you. I rely upon it
that your own good Sense will dictate to you that which will
sufficiently vindicate your Country against foul Aspersion whenever
you may meet with it; and I cannot entertain the least Doubt but you
are possessd with all that patriotick Zeal which will for ever warm
the Breast of an ingenuous young Gentleman. Such a Zeal temperd with
a manly Prudence will render you respectable in political Circles of
Men of Sense. I am sure you will never condescend to be a Companion
of Fools. After telling you what I know will be agreable to you, that
your friends are well, you must allow me to plead haste & conclude at
present with my best Wishes for your Prosperity.


[Boston Gazette, December 3, 1770.]

We should all remember that British America was well affected to the
nation till MINISTERIAL INNOVATIONS occasion’d these Difficulties.

Instead of submitting to MINISTERIAL GUIDANCE, they seem so far led
away by common Sense, and their Regard for the common Welfare, that
they have no Reverence for the INSTRUCTIONS and REFINEMENTS of our
Ministers. Ibid.

Messieurs PRINTERS,

Some time ago I took the liberty of making a few remarks in my poor
manner, upon a SPEECH deliver’d at the close of a session of the
General Assembly: I then thought, and still think that I had good
right and lawful authority so to do, notwithstanding the rebuke which
the VENERABLE Mr. Probus1 then “thought fit” to give me. In imitation
of some of my BRETHREN, I solemnly warned my readers, by way of
applications, of the danger of certain INSTRUCTIONS, or as they were
term’d, “MINISTERIAL MANDATES” we had about that time been told of;
which appear’d to me to be equal to that of REVENUE ACTS, or STANDING
ARMIES to ENFORCE them: I little thought that these instructions, or
mandates, call them what you will, would in their effects have made
so rapid a progress, in so short a time, as I find they have since
THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION began: For I perceive that our house of
representatives have plainly told the Lt. Governor that “merely in
obedience to INSTRUCTIONS, he has made an ABSOLUTE SURRENDER of Castle
William to his Majesty’s forces, with a MOST EXPRESS RESIGNATION of
his POWER OF GARRISONING the same to Lt. Col. Dalrymple”: and to prove
it they recite his Honor’s orders UNDER HIS OWN HAND, to Capt.
Phillips, to deliver that Fort into the hands of the commanding
officer of his Majesty’s regular forces then upon the island, TO BE
GARRISON’D by such detachment as HE SHOULD ORDER! To this indeed his
honor says, “There is nothing in the orders which I gave to Capt.
Phillips, which does not perfectly consist with my retaining the
command of the Castle, and my right to exchange the present garrison
for the former or any other, as I shall think proper”: But I must
confess, it is mysterious to me, how his Honor can retain the Right
to dismiss Col. Dalrymple and his detachment, WHEN HE PLEASES, or
exchange the present garrison for any other AS HE SHALL THINK PROPER,
after having delivered the fort without any reservation, into the
hands of Col. Dalrymple, in consequence of EXPRESS ORDERS from
another, to be garrison’d by such detachment AS HE SHALL ORDER. I am
not so certain that his Honor, who pays a sacred regard to
instructions, will easily be perswaded to exchange the present
garrison for the former, or any other, however necessary such
exchange may be, without first having leave from the right Hon. the
Earl of Hillsborough, as full and EXPRESS as the orders he receiv’d
from his lordship to place the present garrison there--Others may
reconcile an absolute delegation of power without any reserve, by the
express orders of a superior, with a right retain’d in the person who
is THUS ORDER’D to delegate, to exercise the same power when he
pleases; I have not that INTUITIVE knowledge which some men are said
to be bless’d with, and therefore it will not be thought strange if I
do not see clearly through this mystery in POLITICS.--The house
further observe, that “as his Honor has heretofore repeatedly declared
that he has no authority over the King’s troops in the province,2 it
was absurd to suppose he COULD have the command of a fort, thus
unreservedly surrendered to, and in full possession of such troops”:
Which appears to be a just conclusion; for can any one believe that
Col. Dalrymple will hold himself oblig’d to march the King’s troops
under his command out of that fort, in obedience to the orders of one
who has no authority over them? Think not, Mess. Printers, that I am
now finding fault: For if his Honor has “in this instance divested
himself of a power of governing which is vested in him by the Charter
FOR THE SAFETY of the province”, as wiser heads than mine have
determin’d, who WILL DARE to find fault? It was done by virtue of
instructions; and we are told that instructions from a minister of
state come MEDIATELY from the K-----, and his Honor knows that
instructions, whatever “coarse epithet” may have been bestow’d upon
them, are “founded in very wise reasons”, and ought not to be treated
with contempt--HOLT, SOMERS and others, who near eighty years ago
laid their heads together to form our Charter, were certainly wise
and great men; and King William who gave it was as certainly a wise
and good King: But does not the wisdom of my Lord of H-----h far
exceed theirs? Pray, does not every measure which he has advis’d,
fully evince this to the conviction of all but a few factious fellows
here and there. The FRIENDS OF GOVERNMENT are willing to submit WHAT
JUDGEMENT THEY HAVE to such profound wisdom; and what if our OLD
FASHION Charter should be pared down by INSTRUCTIONS, and a power or
two of the G-----r, vested in him FOR THE SAFETY OF THE PEOPLE, should
even be annihilated by them, we are only to BELIEVE there are very
wise reasons for it, and we shall find that all is for the best.

But it is said that “Mr. Hall the late chaplain (whose deposition was
also taken) has not only not given the House the form of words in
which his Honor committed the CUSTODY of the Castle “according to the
Charter” to Col. Dalrymple, but has substituted words which carry a
very different meaning.” --It is strange that Mr. Hall, whom his
Honor directed to attend him--I suppose as a witness--should so
grosly mistake the meaning of the words. But whatever he may lack in
comprehension, memory or VERACITY, he shall, IF HE LIKES IT, be
touch’d up with the reputation of a very MODEST KIND OF GENTLEMAN;
“he has with GREAT MODESTY declared that he COULD NOT RECOLLECT THE
WORDS”--Mr. Hall’s expression is, “PERHAPS I MAY not recollect the
words EXACTLY”;--and “could ONLY recollect the impression they made
upon his mind”--Here again we find Mr. Hall’s expression to be, “This
as far as I can recollect is the impression they made upon my mind.”
He spoke upon memory, and if he delivered the SUBSTANCE of what he
heard, his not being certain that he recollected the words EXACTLY,
is not material--What then is the substance as deliver’d by Mr. Hall
UNDER OATH, who has the character both of an honest and a sensible
man, altho’ it is said that he substituted words which convey a very
different meaning? It is this; “By virtue of authority deriv’d from
his Majesty to govern this province, and in consequence of EXPRESS
ORDERS from the Right Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough to deliver this
fort into the hands of the commanding officer of the King’s troops
now upon the island to be garrison’d by such detachment or detachments
as HE SHALL THINK PROPER I deliver these keys to you as commanding
officer”. If his Honor has a copy of the EXACT FORM OF WORDS, and will
favor the publick with it, we shall be able to judge where the
difference is, and whether “in our opinion” it is MATERIAL. Perhaps
the words “according to the Charter” which I observe are comma’d in
his Honor’s reply as emphatical, are omitted by Mr. Hall: But if THEY
are a part of the FORM OF WORDS, the house seem to have fully taken
them up by affirming that his Honor has no authority either BY THE
CHARTER or his commission to delegate the power of garrisoning the
Castle to any other person: And “that the SHEW of the authority of
the Governor thus held up serv’d only to make the surrender the more
solemn and formal.” If then he had no such authority to do it either
by Charter or Commission, how could he do it by virtue of the
authority deriv’d from his Majesty to govern the province? unless
that authority is deriv’d to him to govern, SOLELY by the “EXPRESS
ORDERS from the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough”--If so, where
indeed “is the freedom of the Governor of this province”: I desire to
know, how his Honor in delivering the keys of the Castle and the
power of garrisoning it to Col. Dalrymple, can be suppos’d to have
exercis’d HIS OWN judgment and election, when he declares he did it
in consequence of EXPRESS ORDERS from another? And that other does not
appear to be his Majesty, but the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough
--The whole matter that could exercise his judgment, as it appears to
me, must have been whether he should deliver the fort to Col.
Dalrymple to be garrison’d by such detachment of the regular forces as
he should think proper, in obedience to the EXPRESS ORDERS of Lord
Hillsborough, or retain the Right of committing the custody and
government thereof to such person or persons as to him should seem
meet, by virtue of the authority deriv’d from his Majesty to govern
the province according to the EXPRESS TERMS of the Charter.

I may venture to say, there has not been an instance of this kind
since the date of our Charter; and in the opinion of judicious and
unprejudiced persons, it is a matter of very great moment. Our enemies
may now have the pleasure of seeing the principal fort & key of the
province in the hands of persons who have not the least dependance
upon it; the captial environ’d with ships of war; the General Assembly
removed from its ancient seat, into the country; and the College,
which has been liberally supported by the people for the education of
our youth, has been made a seat of government, under a pretence, as
it is said, of a prerogative in the Crown, to take up any public
buildings;--All by virtue of instructions, which we are implicitly to
believe are founded in wise reasons; while the people thro’out the
province, whether they are sensible of it or not, are every day
contributing to a revenue rais’d by the act of a legislature in which
they are not and cannot be represented, and against their most
earnest petitions and warmest remonstrances! Surely these are not the
blessings of adm-----n for which we are this week to return to
Almighty God our unfeigned thanks.

When the public observe that the House had ordered Mr. Hall’s
deposition to be published at large, and that his Honor was DULY
NOTIFIED TO BE PRESENT at the caption, perhaps it may be thought that
the mention that is made of the “care INDUSTRIOUSLY taken by the
House to omit the reserve” Mr. Hall had made, because it “did not
suit their purpose”, might have been spared. Its not suiting their
purpose, might be a sufficient reason for their ommitting it: But
possibly his Honor’s manner of introducing it, may be taken be some
“to convey a very different meaning.”

As to “the formality of delivering the keys of the fort,” I suppose
it to have been in much the same FORM OF WORDS, as is used, when a
governor who is recalled, delivers them to another who is to succeed
him in the government of the province by his Majesty’s appointment.
--Col. Dalrymple accepted them “in consequence of orders from General
Gage,” without recognizing any subordination to his Honor. Whether he
will ever deliver them to any person, but such as may claim more
authority over the King’s troops in the province than the Lieutenant
Governor has, I very much doubt.--You shall hear from me again.---

In the mean while, I am yours,


1See above, p. 43.
2The identical words used by that warm friend to this province, the
colonies, the nation and all men but himself, Sir F. B. of Nettleham,


[Boston Gazette, December 10, 1770.]

To the Printers,

The trial of Capt. Preston and the Soldiers who were indicted for the
murder of Messrs. Gray, Maverick, Caldwell, Carr and Attucks, on the
fatal fifth of March last, occasions much speculation in this Town:
And whatever may be the sentiments of men of the coolest minds abroad,
concerning the issue of this trial, we are not to doubt, but the
Court,1 the Jury, the Witnesses, and the Council on both sides, have
conscienciously acquitted themselves: To be sure, no one in his
senses will venture to affirm the contrary.

I am free to declare my opinion, that a cause of so great importance,
not only to this town, but to all his Majesty’s subjects, especially
to the inhabitants of cities and sea-port towns; who are expos’d to
have troops posted among them, whenever the present administration
shall take it into their heads in his Majesty’s name to send them;
such a cause, I say, ought to be fairly stated to the public; that we
may from thence learn how far we are bound to submit to every band of
soldiers we may meet in the streets, and in what instances we may
venture to interpose and prevent their murdering those whom we may
think to be innocent persons without being liable to be censured for
acting unlawfully, if we escape with our own heads, if we should fall
victims to their rage and cruelty.

It was a question put by the chief magistrate of this province to the
officer who commanded on that bloody evening. “Did you not know that
you should not have fired without the order of a civil magistrate”.
And it was sworn in court in the case of Capt. Preston, that he
answered, “I did it to save my Sentry”: But whatever his answer was,
or however “unsatisfactory” to his Honor, the question plainly implies
that it was the judgment of his Honor, that the soldiers could not
justify themselves in firing upon the people without the order of the
civil magistrate. Yet they did fire without such orders, and killed
five of his Majesty’s good subjects; most, if not all of whom were at
that time, for aught that has yet appear’d, in the peace of God and
the King! They not only fired without the orders of the civil
magistrate, but they never called for one, which they might easily
have done--They went down of their own accord, arm’d with musquets,
and bayonets fix’d, presuming that they were cloath’d with as much
authority by the law of the land, as the Posse Comitatus of the
country with the high sheriff at their head--How little regard is due
to the word fo a m--r, who would fain have flatter’d us into a belief
that the troops were sent here to aid the civil magistrate, and were
never to act without one? And let me observe, how fatal are the
effects, the danger of which I long ago mention’d, of posting a
standing army among a free people!

If his Honor was not mistaken in his judgment, and I presume he was
not, viz. that it was unlawful for them to fire without the order of
the civil magistrate, they were certainly from the beginning, at
least very imprudent and fool-hardy, in going down, arm’d as they
were, with weapons of death, without the direction of the civil
magistrate; especially, if they intended to fire, as I think it is
manifest they did.-- When Captain Preston was asked, Whether the
soldiers intended to fire, he answer’d they could not fire without
his orders: No one will pretend that they had not strength or skill
to pull their trickers; but by the rules of the army, their own rules,
they were restrained from firing till he first gave them orders: Yet
contrary to those very rules they all did fire; all but one, and he
did all he could to fire, for his gun flush’d in the pan--it is said
that when it was urg’d by the council for the crown, that by the
rules of law they ought to have retreated if they were in danger of
their lives; it was answered, that by the rules of the army they
were chain’d as it were to their post--that they dared not to retreat
without the orders of their captain--that in so doing they would have
‘expos’d themselves to a sentence of death in a court martial:’--Yet
we have it from great authority that they would have been distracted
if they had not fired, upon a supposition that they were in danger;
altho’ by the same rules of war they could not have fired any more
than they could have retreated, till the captain order’d them; and
they expos’d themselves to be shot by the sentence of a court martial
if they did fire, as much as they would have done if they had
retreated without his order--Certainly it will not be said, it was
more becoming the bravery of a British soldier, to stand his ground
against the subjects of his own King, and kill them upon the spot,
than to have retreated and deserted the glorious cause, and thus have
saved the lives of his Majesty’s subsjects.

The behavior of the party as they went from the main guard discover’d
an haughty air--they push’d their bayonets and damn’d the people as
they went along--and when they arriv’d at their post, one witness who
is a young gentleman of a liberal education and an unspotted
character, declared, that when they came down there were about ten
persons round the sentry--that one of the prisoners whom he
particularly named, loaded his gun, pushed him with his bayonet and
damn’d him--that about fifty or sixty persons came down with the
party, and that he did not observe the people press on. Another
declared, that when the soldiers were loading, about a dozen
surrounded them, and that several of them struck their guns--that he
saw ice or snow balls thrown, but did not apprehend himself or the
soldiers in danger by any thing he saw--This witness was very near
the soldiers; and will any one wonder, that when the soldiers were
to all appearance meditating the death of people by loading their
guns, while there was no apparent danger to them, some of the people
should strike their guns, to prevent the mischief which they seem’d
to be resolv’d upon.

Another declared, that one of the prisoners whom he also named, struck
him upon the arm with his bayonet as the party came down before they
formed; and that he had then told Capt. Preston that every body was
about dispersing--The characters of these witnesses will not be
contested. Such a conduct surely did not discover the most peaceable
disposition in this lawful assembly of soldiers--One would think that
they intended to assassinate those, who they had no reason to think
had the least inclination to injure them--If these are not instances
of assault, I know not what an assault is: And if they were not an
unlawful assembly before, it may well be suppos’d they were at this
time doing an unlawful act--an act that to be sure very ill became
gentlemen soldiers sent here to curb a rebellious spirit and keep the
peace: But there is a colouring at hand; and because this party did
not knock a witness down, or run him thro’, who had the audacity to
refuse at their sovereign order to move out of the way for them as
they pass’d the street from the main guard to the custom-house, tho’
he had then been push’d with a bayonet by one of them, it is
sufficient to convince all the world of their lamb-like meekness and
immaculate innocence.

I have in a former paper consider’d soldiers when quarter’d in free
cities, in the light of other inhabitants, under the same direction
of the civil magistrate and the same controul of the law of the land:
and that by this law, like all other men, they are to be protected,
govern’d, restrain’d, rewarded or punish’d. If then a soldier has the
right in common with other men, to arm himself for his defence when
he thinks there is a necessity for it, he has certainly no more right
then they, to use his weapons of death at random; or at all under a
pretence of suppressing riots, or any other pretence, without the
presence of the civil magistrate, unless his own life is in danger,
and he cannot retreat: Such a liberty would tend to increase the
disorder rather than suppress it, and would endanger life rather than
save it: In the instances I have mention’d, the lives of the soldiers
were not in danger from the men whom they assaulted: This was early
in the tragical scene, and it was an assault personally upon those
who had not attempted to do them the least injury: How far their lives
were in danger afterwards, and who were in fault, shall be the subject
of free Enquiry in a future paper.


1The published report, cited above, p. 60, contains the charge to the
jury as given only by Judge Trowbridge and Judge Oliver. All that is
extant of Judge Lynde’s charge to the jury is printed in The Diaries
of Benjamin Lynde and of Benjamin Lynde, Jr., pp. 228-230.


To the Printers.

That the trial of the soldiers concern’d in the carnage on the
memorable 5th of March, was the most solemn trial that ever was had
in this country, was pronounc’d from the bench. To see eight
prisoners bro’t to the bar together, charg’d with the murder of five
persons at one time, was certainly, as was then observ’d, affecting:
But whoever recollects the tragedy of that fatal evening, will I
believe readily own that the scene then was much more affecting--There
is something pleasing and solemn when one enters into a court of law
--Pleasing, as there we expect to see the scale held with an equal
hand--to find matters deliberately and calmly weigh’d and decided,
and justice administered without any respect to persons or parties,
and from no other motive but a sacred regard to truth--And it is
solemn as it brings to our minds the tribunal of GOD himself! before
whose judgment-seat the scriptures assure us all must appear: And I
have often tho’t that no one will receive a greater share of rewards
at that decisive day, than he who has approv’d himself a faithful
upright judge.

Witnesses who are bro’t into a court of justice, while their veracity
is not impeach’d, stand equal in the eye of the judge; unless he
happens to be acquainted with their different characters, which is
not presum’d--The jury who are taken from the vicinity, are suppos’d
to know the credibility of the witnesses: In the late trials the
witnesses were most if not all of them either inhabitants of this town
or transient persons residing in it, and the jurors were all from the
country: Therefore it is not likely that they were acquainted with the
characters of all the witnesses; and it is more than probable that in
so great a number of witnesses there were different characters, that
is, that some of them were more, others less creditable. If then the
judge, whose province it is to attend to the law, and who, not knowing
the characters of the witnesses, presumes that they are all good, &
gives an equal credit to them, it is the duty of the jurors who are
sovereign in regard to facts, to determine in their own minds the
credibility of those who are sworn to relate the facts: And this in a
trial for murder requires great care and attention. I would just
observe here, that in the last trial there were not less than eighty-
two witnesses for the jury to examine and compare, which was an
arduous task indeed! And I will venture further to observe, that some
of these witnesses who swore very positively were not so creditable
as others, and the testimony of one of them in particular, which was
very precisely related & very peremptory, might have been invalidated
in every part of it. I shall not at present suggest what I take to be
the reason why it was not done. These matters will no doubt have
their place in the history of the present times in some future day,
when the faithful recorder it is to be hoped will, to use the language
of our courts of justice, relate the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth.

It is enough for the jury to receive the law from the bench: They may
indeed determine this for themselves; but of facts they are ever the
uncontroulable judges. They ought therefore to receive the facts from
the mouths of the witnesses themselves, and implicitly from no other:
Unless the jury particularly attend to this, they may be in danger of
being misled by persons who would be far from doing it with design:
For instance, if one should swear that A being foreworn’d against it,
levell’d his gun and kill’d B: and afterwards it should be forgot,
that the witness also swore that A immediately advanc’d & push’d his
bayonet at C, which pass’d between his waistcoat and his skin; if this
I say should be forgot, and should be overlook’d by the jury when they
are together, perhaps instead of bringing it in murder according to
the rules of the law laid down by the bench, they would bring it in
manslaughter--I do not here affirm that this has ever been a fact: I
mention it as what may hereafter be a fact, and to show the necessity
of a jury’s relying upon facts as they receive them from the witnesses
themselves, and from them alone.

The furor brevis which we have heard much of, the fury of the blood
which the benignity of the law allows for upon sudden provocation, is
suppos’d to be of short duration--the shooting a man dead upon the
spot, must have stopp’d the current in the breast of him who shot him,
if he had not been bent upon killing--an attempt to stab a second
person immediately after, infers a total want of remorse at the
shedding of human blood; and such a temper of mind afterwards
discovers the rancorous malice before, especially if it be proved that
the same man had declated that he would never miss an opportunity so
to do: If this does not imply malice at first, I do not see but he
might have gone on stabbing people in his furor brevis, till he had
kill’d an hundred; and after all, it might have been adjudg’d, in
indulgence to the human passions, excuseable homicide.

The law in its benignity makes allowance for human passions: But the
law is just; and make this allowance upon the principles of justice:
It gives no indulgence to malice and rancour against any individual;
much less against a community or the human species--He who threatens
or thirsts for the blood of the community is an enemy to the publick;
and hostis humani generis, the enemy of mankind consummates the
villain. I will not take upon myself to say that either of these
characters belong to any of the late prisoners--There are two
remaining yet in gaol, convicted of manslaughter, and waiting
judgment of the court. With regard to one of these, namely, Kilroi,
it was sworn that about a week or a fortnight before (the 5th of
March, which must be before the affray at the ropewalks, that
happening on the 2d) he said he would never miss an opportunity of
firing upon the inhabitants, and that he had wanted such--It is said
that these might be words spoken in jest, or without any intention,
when they were spoken, of acting according to their true import &
meaning: But the witness said, he repeated the words several times:
And that after he had told him he was a very great fool for saying so,
he again declared he would never miss an opportunity.--It appears that
the witness himself, as any one might, tho’t him to be in earnest,
and rebuked him for saying so; and in truth, none but a madman, or one
whose heart was desperately wicked, would repeatedly, especially after
such wholesome reproof, have persisted in such a threat; It
discovered, to borrow the expression of a very polite & humane
gentleman, upon another late occasion, a malignity beyond what might
have been expected from a Barbarian.

It was also sworn, that this same Kilroi was with a party of soldiers
in the affray at the Ropewalks a few evenings before the 5th of March,
--and that they had clubs & cutlasses--That Kilroi was of the party of
soldiers that fired in King-street--that as the party came round
before they form’d, Kilroi struck a witness upon his arm--and after
the firing began, Kilroi struck at the same witness, tho’ he had
hear’d nothing said, nor seen any thing done to provoke the soldiers.
--Another witness declared, that he saw Kilroi there, that he knew
him well before, and was positive it was he--that he heard the word
fire, twice, upon which he said to the soldiers, damn you, don’t fire,
and Kilroi fired at once, and killed Gray, who had no weapon, and his
arms were folded in his bosom. Gray fell at the feet of this witness,
and immediately Kilroi pushed his bayonet at the witness, which pass’d
thro’ all his clothes, and came out at his surtuit behind, and he was
oblig’d to turn round to quit himself of the weapon--the witness
suppos’d he designed to kill them both.--How long is this furor
brevis, this short hurricane of passion to last in the breast of a
soldier, when called, not by the civil magistrate, but by his military
officer, under a pretence of protecting a Centinel, and suppressing a
Riot? who had taken with him weapons, not properly of defence, but of
death, and was calm enough in this impetuosity of anger, to load his
gun, and perhaps with design, to level it, for it killed one of the
very men with whom he had had a quarrel but a few evenings before: He
had now a fair opportunity, which he had wished for, and resolved
never to miss, of firing upon the inhabitants. It was said upon the
words he uttered, that if all the unjustifiable words that had been
spoken by the inhabitants of this town, were to be bro’t in judgment
against them, they would have much to answer for.--Those who believe
the letters of governor Bernard, the Commissioners of the customs,
and some others whom I could name, and will name in proper time, may
think so. I dare say, if Bernard could have proved one overt-act of
rebellion or treason, after the many things he pretended had been
said, and he or his tools could have had any influence, the words if
prov’d, would have been adjudg’d to have been said in sober earnest,
and would have been considered as material to have shown the
malignancy of the heart.

This Kilroi’s bayonet was prov’d to be the next morning bloody five
inches from the point. It was said to be possible that this might be
occassion’d by the bayonet’s falling into the human blood, which ran
plentifully in the street, for one of their bayonets was seen to fall.
It is possible, I own; but much more likely that this very bayonet was
stab’d into the head of poor Gray after he was shot, and that this
may account for its being bloody five inches from the point--Such an
instance of Savage barbarity there undoubtedly was.--It was sworn
before the Magistrate who first examined into this cruel tragedy,
though the witness who then swore it, being out of this province,
could not be produced in Court upon the trial. It is not to be
wonder’d at that any material witness was out of the way, when it is
consider’d that the trial did not come on till the secord term, and
nine months after the facts were committed. I shall continue the
subject at my leisure.


Dec. 11th.


[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.]

To the Printers.

In the late trials of Preston and the Soldiers, it was observ’d that
the Court constantly from day to day adjourn’d at noon and at sun-set
--Our enemies, who are fruitful in their inventions, may possibly from
hence take occasion to represent that it was dangerous for the Court
to sit in the tumultuous town of Boston after dark. At the first view
it may perhaps bear this complexion in the eye of a prejudiced
stranger; for such adjournments in capital causes it may be were never
before known here: But the representation would be without the least
foundation in truth. It is possible that among other reasons this
might be one, that the judges are all of them, to use the words of a
good old Patriarch, well stricken in years, and one of them labours
under infirmities of Body. I have another observation to make on this
occasion, but I reserve it till a future opportunity.

I have already said that the Soldiers in coming down from the main-
guard to the custom-house behaved with an haughty air--that they
abused the people as they pass’d along--pushing them with their
bayonets--and damning them; and when they had got to their post, they
in like manner abused and struck innocent persons there who offer’d
them no injury--and all this was even before they form’d, in doing
which it does not appear to be danger to them or any one else. These
facts, I think were prov’d, if we may believe persons of good credit,
who declared them upon their oaths in Court:--And that they came down
under a pretence of suppressing a riot, without a civil magistrate or
peace officer, which ought always to be remembered, no one will

There was indeed a sort of evidence bro’t into Court, which, if it is
at all to be rely’d upon, may serve to invalidate in some measure what
has been said--namely the declaration of one of the deceas’d persons,
as it was related by a gentleman who dress’d his wounds, and to whom
he is said to have declared it. This man, as the doctor testified,
told him among many other things, that he saw some Soldiers passing
from the main-guard to the custom-house and the people pelted them as
they went along. But whether these Soldiers were Preston and his
party; or other Soldiers who are mention’d by another witness, as
going from the main-guards towards the Centry, having short coats and
arm’d with bayonets, swords or sticks, and one of them with a pair of
kitchen tongs, chasing the people as they went, must remain an
uncertainty--If he meant the former, it is somewhat strange that among
all the witnesses on both sides, no one saw the people pelting them as
they went along but he. This man confess’d to the doctor that he was
a fool to be there--was surprized at the forbearance of the soldiers;
believed that they fired in their own defence & freely forgave the man
that shot him. But it is to be observed, he did not declare this under
oath nor before a magistrate: It was however the dying speech,--very
affecting and all, true no doubt; altho’ no one knew the character of
this believing penitent either in point of veracity or judgment.--By
the testimony of his land-lady in Court, one would not form the best
opinion of him; but de mortuis nil nisi bonum.

There were others ready to be sworn, if the Council for the crown had
thought it worth while to have bro’t them forward, that they also
could relate what this man had told them, viz. that his doctors had
encouraged him that he would soon recover of his wounds, and he hoped
to live to be a swift witness against the soldiers--Great stress was
laid by some upon the simple declaration of this man, who in all
probability died in the faith of a roman catholick. This, however, I
am apt to think, will not disparage his declaration in the opinion
of some great men at home, even tho’ he did not make his confession to
a ghostly physician.

Before I proceed to enquire into the danger the Soldiers were in, if
they were in any at all, and who were in fault, I will take the
liberty to lead the reader back to a consideration of the temper the
Soldiers in general discovered, and their correspondent conduct, for
some considerable time before the fatal tragedy was acted--It is well
known indeed that from their first landing, their behavior was to a
great degree insolent; and such as look’d as if they had enter’d
deeply into the spirit of those who procur’d them,--and really
believed, that we were a country of rebels and they were sent here to
subdue us. But for some time before the fifth of March, they more
frequently insulted the inhabitants who were quietly passing the
streets; and gave out many threats, that on that very night the blood
would run down the streets of Boston, and that many who would dine on
Monday would not breakfast on Tuesday; and to show that they were in
earnest they forewarn’d their particular acquaintance to take care of
themselves--These things were attested before the magistrates by
credible persons under oath.--Accordingly when the Monday evening came
on, they were early in every part of the town arm’d with bludgeons,
bayonets and cutlasses, beating those whom they could, and assaulting
and threatning others--By the way, I will just observe for the
information of a certain honorable gentleman, that the name of
bludgeons was unheard of in this town till the Soldiers arrived--This
behavior put the inhabitants in mind of their threatenings; and was
the reason that those of them who had occasion to walk the streets,
came out arm’d with canes or clubs. Between eight and nine o’clock,
the Soldiers in Murray’s barracks in the centre of the town rush’d out
with their naked cutlasses insulting, beating and wounding the
inhabitants who were passing along: This, in so frequented a street,
naturally collected numbers of people who resented the injury done
and an affray ensued--About the same time a difference arose in King-
street, between a centry there and a barber’s boy, who said to his
fellow-apprentice in the hearing of the centry “there goes Capt.-----
who has not paid my master for dressing his hair:” The centry
foolishly resented it, and word took place; and the boy answering him
with pertness, & calling him a name, the centry struck him. Here was
the first assault in King-street.--But for what reason the evidence
of this matter was not bro’t into Court, at the last trial, as it had
been at the trial of Preston, the reader if he pleases may conjecture.
At the same time a gentleman not living far from the custom-house,
and hearing as he tho’t a distant cry of murder, came into the street,
which he had just before left perfectly still, and to use his words,
“never clearer”: He there saw a party of Soldiers issue from the
mainguard, and heard them say, damn them where are they, by Jesus let
them come; and presently after another party rush’d thro’ Quaker-lane
into the street, using much such expressions:--Their arms glitter’d in
the moon-light. These cried fire, and ran up the street and into
Cornhill which leads to Murray’s barracks; in their way they knocked
down a boy of twelve years old, a son of Mr. Appleton, abused and
insulted several gentlemen at their doors and others in the street:--
Their cry was, damn them, where are they, knock them down; and it is
suppos’d they join’d in the affray there, which still continued--They
also then cried fire, which one of the witnesses took to be their

By this time the barber’s boy had return’d to the centry with a
number of other boys to resent the blow he had received: The centry
loaded his gun and threatened to fire upon them, and they threatened
to knock him down--The bells were ringing as for fire: Occasion’d
either by the Soldiers crying fire as is before mention’d, for it is
usual in this town when fire is cried, for any one who is near a
church to set the bells a ringing; or it might be, to alarm the town,
from an apprehension of some of the inhabitants, that the Soldiers
were putting their former threats into execution, and that there
would be a general massacre: It is not to be wonder’d at, that some
persons were under such apprehensions; when even an officer at
Murray’s barracks, appeared to encourage the Soldiers and headed them,
as it was sworn before the magistrate.--This officer was indicted by
the grand jury, but he could not be found afterwards--Some other
officers, and particularly lieutenants Minchen and Dickson, discovered
a very different temper.

The ringing of the bells alarmed the town, it being suppos’d by the
people in general there was fire; and occasion’d a concourse in King-
street which is a populous part of it. As the people came into the
street, the barber’s boy told them that the centry had knock’d him
down--and a person who had come into the street thro’ Royal-exchange
lane, which leads from Murray’s barracks, (and possibly had observ’d
the behavior of the Soldiers there) and seeing the centry, cried
here’s a Soldier--Various were the dispositions and inclinations of
the people according to their various “feelings” no doubt; for
mankind, it is said, “act from their feelings more than their reason:”
The cooler sort advis’d to go home: The curious were willing to stay
and see the event, and those whose feelings were warmer, perhaps
partook of the boys resentment. So it had been before at Murray’s
barracks, and so it always will be among a multitude: At the barracks
some, to use the expression of one of the witnesses, called out home,
home; while some in their heat cried, huzza for the main-guard--there
is the nest--This was said by a person of distinction in court, to
savour of treason! Tho’ it was allow’d on both sides, that the main-
guard was not molested thro’ the whole evening.

I would here beg the reader’s further patience, while I am a little
more particular, in relation to the affray at Murray’s barracks; for
it may be of importance to enquire how it began there.--Mr. Jeremiah
Belknap, an householder of known good reputation, had been sworn
before the magistrate; and why he was not bro’t in as a witness at the
trial, is not my business to say, and I shall not at present even
conjecture--Mr. Belknap, who lived in Cornhill near Murray’s barracks,
testified, that on the first appearance of the affray there, hearing
a noise he ran to his door, and heard one say he had been struck by
a Soldier: he presently saw eight or nine Soldiers arm’d with clubs
and cutlasses, come out of Boylston’s alley, which is a very short
passage leading from Murray’s barracks into the street--he desired
them to retire to the barracks--one of them with a club in one hand
and a cutlass in the other, with the latter, made a stroke at him:
Finding no prospect of stopping them, he ran to the main-guard and
called for the officers of the guard--he was inform’d, there was no
officer there--he told the Soldiers, with drawn cutlasses, who he
suppos’d were of the party from Murray’s barracks--Another gentleman,
one of the prisoners witnesses, swore in Court, that a little after
eight o’clock he saw at his own door, which is very near the barracks,
several Soldiers passing and repassing, some with clubs, others with
bayonets: And then he related the noise & confusion he afterwards
heard, & the squabble he saw, but no blows--that he saw two Soldiers,
each at a different time, present his gun at the people, threatning
to make a lane through them; but the officers drove them in--The
tragedy was compleated very soon in King-street--The firing was
reserv’d for another party of Soldiers, not much if at all to their
discredit in the judgment of some, and under the command of an officer
who did not restrain them. The witness heard the report of the first
gun soon after the people cried home, home; and declared that he tho’t
they had fired upon the main guard, for he heard the drum at the main
guard beat to arms--Another, who was sworn in Court, a witness for the
Crown declared, that about nine o’clock, passing near Draper’s (or
Bolyston’s) alley, which leads into Murray’s barracks, and thro’ which
he intended to go, he heard some boys huzzaing--he judged there were
not more than six or seven, and they were small; they ran thro’
dock-square towards the Market--Presently after he saw two or three
persons in the alley with weapons--a number of Soldiers soon sallied
out, arm’d with large naked cutlasses, assaulting every body coming in
their way--that he himself narrowly escaped a cut from the foremost
of them who pursued him; and that he saw a man there, who said he was
wounded by them and he felt of the wound--The wounded man stopped, and
this occasioned the people who were passing to gather round him--
Thinking it dangerous fo him to proceed, the witness returned home--
A Captain of the 14th, one of the prisoners witnesses was also sworn
in Court: He testified that in Cornhill he saw a mob collected at the
pass (Boylston’s alley) leading to Murray’s barracks--the people were
pelting the Soldiers he tho’t had a fire-shovel--as soon as they
knew him, he prevailed on them to go to the bottom of the pass, and
with some difficulty he got down--This witness, it seems, must have
been later than the others; and Mr. Belknap, perhaps gives as early
an account of it, as any can, but the Soldiers themselves.

I would only ask how it came to pass that the Soldiers, on that
particular evening, should be seen abroad, in every part of the town,
contrary to the rules of the army, after eight o’clock--If the
officers, who should have restrain’d them, were careless of their
duty, whence was so general a carelessness among the officers at that
juncture? It was said, there was no officer at the main-guard, which
may in part account for it. Or, if the Soldiers were all at once
ungovernable by their officers, and could not be restrain’d by them,
a child may judge from the appearance they made, that there had been
a general combination, agreable to their former threats, on that
evening to put in execution some wicked and desperate design.


Dec. 18th.


[Boston Gazette, December 24, 1770.]

To the Printers.

SOMEBODY, in Mr. Draper’s paper of Thursday last, charges me with
PARTIALITY, in my two first performances on the subject of the late
also says, I freely charge PARTIALITY on others: I UTTERLY DENY THAT
publick would not be influenced by any remarks made by me on the late
INSINUATES that I have cast the most INJURIOUS reflections upon
Judges, Jury and Witnesses: AGAIN, I DENY IT.--It remains then that
he either retract his charges or proves them: Otherwise the publick
will judge him to be guilty of something worse than “THE FAULT” OF
PARTIALITY. He THREATENS to bring out some facts which were not
allowed to be given in evidence: THIS IS WHAT I EARNESTLY DESIRE, FOR
intends, to ASCERTAIN THE PERSON IN A RED CLOAK, mention’d on the
trial, IF VINDEX AND HIS Adherents DESIRE it. Vindex has no
Adherents but in the cause of truth: And Vindex, FOR THE SAKE OF
affirm, that neither of the witnesses declared that he was VERY BUSY
at the beginning, or any part, of the Tragedy. There were two only
that made mention of him, viz. Mr. WILLIAM HUNTER & Mr. JAMES SELKRIG:
The one declared that in dock-square “there was a tall gentleman in
a red Cloak; that he stood in the midst of them (the people); that
they were whist for some time, and presently huzza’d for the main
guard: The other said, there was a gentleman with a red Cloak & a
large white Wig; that he made a speech to them (the people) 4 or 5
minute--(this witness mention’d nothing of their HUZZAING for the main
guard, which one would have thought must have been OBSERVABLE by ALL,
but only adds) they went and knock’d with their sticks, and said they
would do for the soldiers--What THE TALL GENTLEMAN said, neither of
them could tell.--I cannot help observing here, that some of the late
LETTER-WRITERS from hence to London, have mark’d the RED CLOAK AND
WHITE WIG, as the garb of a Boston HYPOCRITE; but I have never yet
heard it hinted, that such a dress was the peculiarity of an ACTOR in
TRAGEDIES--Great pain have been taken to make the world believe that
men of “estates, of figure and religion” had formed a plan, BEFORE THE
5TH OF MARCH, to drive off the soldiers; witness a DEPOSITION LATELY
PUBLISH’D: And perhaps it may be the LOW CUNNING of this writer to
INSINUATE, that there was a mob at that time, AND FOR THAT PURPOSE,
on dock-square; and that their leader MUST be a man of figure in the
town, BECAUSE HE WORE A RED CLOAK--As it is not yet known what the
TALL GENTLEMAN WITH A RED CLOAK said to the people; whether he gave
them good or ill advice, or any advice at all, we may possibly form
some conjecture concerning it, when his PERSON is ascertained. THE


Dec. 22.


[MS., British Museum; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox
Library; a text is in W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. i.,
pp. 377, 378.]

BOSTON Decr 28 1770


Having been repeatedly sollicited by my friend, Mr William Palfrey,1
I embrace this opportunity of making my particular compliments to you,
in a Letter which he will deliver. My own Inclination had coincided
with his Request; for I should pride myself much, in a Correspondence
with a Gentleman, of whom I have long entertaind so great an Opinion.
--No Character appears with a stronger Luster in my Mind, than that
of a Man, who nobly perseveres in the Cause of publick Liberty,
and Virtue, through the Rage of Persecution: Of this, you have
had a large Portion; but I dare say, you are made the better by
it: At least I will venture to say, that the sharpest Persecution
for the sake of ones Country, can never prove a real Injury to an
honest Man.

In this little Part of the World - a Land, till of late happy in
its Obscurity - the Asylum, to which Patriots were formerly wont
to make their peaceful Retreat; even here the stern Tyrant has
lifted up his iron Rod, and makes his incessant Claim as Lord of
the Soil: But I have a firm Perswasion in my Mind, that in every
Struggle, this Country will approve her self, as glorious in
defending & maintaining her Freedom, as she has heretofore been
happy in enjoying it.

Were I a Native and an Inhabitant of Britain, & capable of
affording the least Advice, it should constantly be; to confirm
the Colonies in the fullest Exercise of their Rights, and even to
explore for them every possible Avenue of Trade, which should not
interfere with her own Manufactures. From the Colonies, when she
is worn with Age, she is to expect renewed Strength. But the Field
I am entering, is too large for the present: May Heaven forbid,
that it should yet be truly said of Great Britain, Quam Deus yult
perdere, -!

I am with strict Truth
Your most humbe Servt

1See above, page 9.


[MS., Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]


In my last I considerd the Temper which the Soldiers in general
had discoverd and the threats they had [utter'd] previous to the
fifth of March together with their correspondent Behavior on that
alarming Evening. I was the more brief, because there had been a
narrative of the horrid massacre, printed by the order of this
Town, which was drawn up by a Comt appointed for that purpose; and
reported by their Chairman, JAMES BOWDOIN Esqr. The affidavits
which are annexd to the narrative were each of them taken before
two Justices of the Peace Quorum Unus to perpetuate the remembrance of
the thing: Coll William Dalrymple, chiefe Commander of the Soldiers,
was duly notified by the Justices to attend the Captions: And His
Honor the Lt Governor certified, under his Hand with the province Seal
annexd, that full faith & Credit was & ought to be given to the
several Acts & Attestations of the Justices, both in Court & without.

The Candor of the Town indeed was such, that at their meeting in
March, 2 by a Vote they restraind their Committee from publishing
the narrative, lest it might unduly prejudice those whose lot it
should be to be jurors to try these Causes: This restraint they
continued by a Vote at their meeting in May,3 & untill the
Trials should be over . . . plaud; as it discovered a Sense of
Justice; as well as the greatest Humanity4 towards those men who
had wantonly lit the hearts Blood of citizens like Water upon
Ground. A Temper far from vindictive; calm and moderate, at a
time, when if ever they might have been expected to be off their
Guard: And yet, so barbarous & cruel, so infamously mean & base
were the Enemies of this Town, who are the common Enemies of all
America & of the Truth it self, that they falsly inserted in the
publick news papers in London the Inhabitants had seizd upon Capt
Preston hung & hung him like Porteus upon a Sign Post! -

I shall now in a few ......... endeavor to show the Temper which
some of the Soldiers, (by whom I do not now particularly mean the
late Prisoners), discoverd at & after the fatal Catastrophes.
Readers may have observd, that I am careful to distinguish between
the evidence given in Court from that which was given out of
Court, Witnesses to this point, it ought not to be supposd, were
admissible at the Trial, unless perhaps the one immediately
following: That a credible Person, who is mistress of a reputable
family in the Town. She testified before the Magistrates, & was
ready to swear it in Court, if she had been called, that on the
Evening of the 5 of March a number of Soldiers were assembled from
Greens Barracks & opposite to her Gate, which is near those
Barracks - that they stood very still until the Guns were fired in
Kingstreet; then they clapd their Hands & gave a Cheer, saying,
this is all we want; they then ran to their Barrack &
came out again in a few minutes, all with their arms, & ran
towards Kingstreet.5 These Barracks were about a quarter of a mile
from Kingstreet: Their standing very still, untill they heard the
firing, compared with their subsequent Conduct, looks as if they
expected it; it seems, as though they knew what the Signal should
[be], & the part they were to act in Consequence of it. This
perhaps may be thought by some to be too straining: I will not
urge it, but leave it to any one to judge, how far if at all, it
affords Grounds of Suspicion, that there was an understanding
between the Soldiers in Kingstreet at the time of the firing &
these; especially, if it be true as has been said, that they fired
without the Command of their officers - There was another Witness
similar to this; an housholder of good reputation, who testified,
that the Soldiers from Greens Barracks rushd by him with their
Arms towards Kingstreet, saying this is our time or chance; that
he never saw6 Dogs so greedy for their prey as they seemd to be,
and the Sergeants could hardly keep them in their ranks.7

Another swore, that after the firing, he saw the Soldiers drawn up
in the Street, and heard Officers [as] they walked backwards &
forwards say, Damn it, what a fine fire that was! How bravely it
dispersd the mob!8 A person belonging to Hallifax in Nova Scotia,
testified that when the Body of troops was drawn up before the
Guard house (which was presently after the Massacre) he heard an
officer say to another, that this was fine work, just what he
wanted.9 I shall add but one more to this List, and that is the
Testimony of a Witness, well known for an honest man in this Town,
who declared, that at about one o'Clock the next morning, as he
was going alone from his own house to the Town House, he met a
Sergeant of the 29th with Eight [or] nine Soldiers, all with very
large Clubs & Cutlasses when one of them speaking of the
Slaughter, swore by God it was a fine thing & said you shall see
more of it.10 These Testimonies it is confessd would not be
pertinent to the Issue of the late Tryal: But I think it necessary
to adduce them here to convince the World of the wretched
Condition this town was in, the Reasons they had to apprehend &
the necessity they were under constantly to be upon their Guard
while such were quarterd among them: Much was brot into Court to
show that the Town was in a State of disorder on the Evening of
the 5 of March previous to the Affray at Murrays Barracks;
Witnesses were admitted to testify that they were met by one &
another armd with Clubs.11 But Nothing appeard there to show the
Cause & even the Necessity of it.11

To these, I cannot help subjoining the Testimony of Mr John Cox, a
very reputable Inhabitant of this town; who swore in Court at one
of the late trials, that after the firing, he went to take up the
dead - that he told the Soldiers, it was a cowardly trick in them
to kill men within reach of their Bayonets, with nothing in their
hands, and that the officer said, damn them, fire again & let them
take the Consequence! - to which he replyd you have killed . . .
already to hang you all - But he was mistaken.

It is a Mistake to say the soldiers were in danger from the
Inhabitants. The reverse is true; the Inhabitants were in danger
from the Soldiers. With all the Indulgence which was & perhaps
ought to be shown to Prisoners upon Tryal for Life, not a single
Instance of any Injury offerd to Soldiers was provd, except at
Murrays Barracks, & not even there but in return for intollerable
Insults. Many Witness[es] were ready if called for to testify to
the Insults & Abuse offerd by the Soldiers to the Inhabitants in
various parts of the Town.

Thus one of the prisoners Witnesses testified in Court that at 7
o'Clock going to the South End he met forty or fifty in small
Parties, four or five in a party. It has been testified by a
credible Witness that before the fifth of March, the Soldiers were
not only seen making their Clubs, but from what the Witness could
collect from their Conversation, they were resolvd to be revengd
on Monday13 and divers others swore to the same purpose; They did
not indeed say, whether they knew them to be soldiers or
Inhabitants: It is as probable that they were Soldiers as
Inhabitants; for it was sworn before the magistrates by a person
of Credit, that on the Saturday before he saw the Soldiers
making Clubs; Another was ready to testify in Court that thirty of
these Clubs or Bludgeons were made, by the Soldiers, in his own
Shop. And in the part of the Town where the Witness was going, a
Gentleman was attackd by two Soldiers, one of them armd with a
Club & the other with a broad Sword; the latter struck him, &
threatned that he should soon hear more of it. It was notorious
that the Soldiers were seen frequently on that evening armd with
Clubs - but in the Judgment of some men, every party that was seen
with Clubs, or in the modern term, Bludgeons, to be sure must have
been Inhabitants. If the Soldiers were in such Danger why were
they not kept in their Barracks after Eight o'clock agreable to
their own orders? In stead of this we find the Testimony of a
person, who was not an Inhabitant of the Town, that being at the
South End on that Evening exactly at Eight o'Clock he saw there
Eleven Soldiers: An officer met them .....orderd them to appear at
their respective places at the time: and if they should see any of
the Inhabitants of the Town, or any other people not belonging to
them, with Arms, Clubs or any other warlike weapon more than two
being assembled together to order them to stop, & if they refusd,
to stop them with their firelocks, and all that should take their
part - the officer went Northward & the Soldiers Southward.

These were orders discretely given indeed! And well becoming a
Gentleman in any Command, over troops sent here, or as the
Minister pretended, to aid the civil Magistrate in keeping the
peace, & with directions never to act without . . . Will any one
think the Town could be safe, even from this band of Soldiers
only, especially while under such direction & influence - This is
a single Instance -No wonder that when the Bells soon after rang
as for fire, & the people in that same part of the town came into
the Streets with Bucketts, they should be told by some, as a
Gentleman who was a Witness in Court for the prisoners swore they
were, that they had better bring Clubs than Bucketts - Such
Appearances were enough to put the Town in Motion. It is a Mistake
to say the Soldiers were in danger from the Inhabitants; the
reverse is true: The Inhabitants were in danger from the Soldiers.
With all the Indulgence which was shown, and perhaps ought to be
shown to Prisoners at the bar, upon trial for Life, not a single
Instance was provd, of any Abuse offerd to any Soldier that
Evening, previous to the insolent Behavior of those of them who
rushd out of Murrays Barracks & fell upon all whom they met: on
the Contrary, there had been many Instances of their insulting &
assaulting the Inhabitants indiscriminately in every part of the

As it was said in Court that the unhappy persons who fell a
Sacrifice to the Cruel Revenge of the Soldiers, had brot their
Death upon their own heads, I shall finish this paper in saying
what ought to be said in behalf of those who cannot now speak for
themselves. - Mr Maverick a young Gentleman of a good family & a
blameless Life, was at Supper in the House of one of his friends,
and went Out when the bells rang as for fire. .Mr Caldwell, young
Seaman & of a good Character, had been at School to perfect
himself in the Art of Navigation, and had just returnd to the
house of a reputable Person in this town to whose daughter he made
his visits with the honorable Intention of Marriage: He also went
out when the bells rang. W Gray was of a good family, he was at
his own house the whole of the Evening, saving his going into a
Neighbours house to borrow the News paper of the day & returning:
He went out on the ringing of the Bells; and altho a Child swore
in Court that he saw him with a Stick after the bells rang, yet
another Witness saw him before he got into Kingstreet without a
Stick, Others saw him in Kingstreet & testified that he had no
Stick, and when he was shot, the Witness then testified, as is
mentiond in a former paper, that he had no Stick & his Arms were
folded in his bosom; so that it is probable the young Witness
mistook the person. Mr Attucks, it is said was at his Lodgings &
at Supper when the bells rang; Witnesses indeed swore that they
afterwards saw him with a Club, & great pains were taken to make
it appear that he attackd the Soldiers, but the proof faild; even
Andrew, a Negro Witness whom I shall hereafter mention, testifies
that he thot Attucks was the Man who struck one of the Soldiers,
but could not account how he could get at such a Distance, as he
was when he fell, the Soldier firing so soon. Others swear that he
was leaning on his Stick when he fell, which certainly was not a
threatning posture. It may be supposd that he had as good Right to
carry a Stick, even a Bludgeon, as the Soldier who shot him had,
to be armd with Musquet & ball; & if he at any time lifted up his
Weapon of Defence, it was surely not more than a Soldiers leveling
his Gun at the Multitude chargd with Death - If he had killed a
Soldier, he might have been hangd for it, & as a traitor too, for
to attack a Soldier upon his post, was declared Treason; But the
Soldier shot Attucks & killed him, & he was convicted of Man
Slaughter! As to Mr Car, the other deceasd person, it is doubtful
with what Intent he came out. He was at Mr Fields house when the
Bells rang; Mr Field & another Witness who was at the House,
testify that Car went upstairs and got his Sword.

1 This article in the form as published is printed at pages 110-
2 March 26. Boston Record Commissioners' Report, vol. xviii., p.
3 0n July 10, the town meeting defeated a motion that the printers
be allowed to sell the printed narrative. ibid., p. 34.
4 The words "& Impartiality" were stricken out at this point.
5 see Narrative first Edit. Apendix page 68.
6 At this point the words "Men or" were stricken out.
7 Idem.
8 page 69.
9 page 22.
10 Page 61.
11 The remainder of this paragraph is crossed out in the draft.
Cf., page 108.
12 Narrative Appendix page 4.
13 id, pa. 4 - this alludes to the affrays at the ropewalk: The
Soldiers at Greens Barracks had made three Attacks upon the ropemakers
when they were at their Work, in revenge for one of them being told by
one of the hands in the Walk, that "if he wanted work he might
empty his Vault." Enough to enkindle the flame of resentment in the
Breast of a common Soldier, who of all men has the most delicate
Sentiments of honor! Two of the prisoners were of the party in these
noble Exploits, as was testified in Court.


[Boston Gazette, December 31, 1770.]


IN my last, I consider'd the temper which the Soldiers in general,
had discover'd, and the threats they had utter'd, previous to the
5th of March, together with their correspondent behavior, on that
alarming evening. I was the more brief, because there had been a
"Narrative of the horrid Massacre," printed by the Order of this
Town; which was drawn up by a Committee appointed for that
purpose, and reported by their Chairman, James Bowdoin, Esq. The
Affidavits which are annexed to the Narrative, were each of them
taken before two Justices of the Peace, Quorum Unus, to perpetuate
the remembrance of the thing: Col. William Dalrymple, chief
Commander of the Soldiers, was duly notified by the Justices to
attend the Captions: And his Honor the lieutenant-governor,
certified under his hand with the Province Seal affixed, that full
faith and credit was, and ought to be given to the several Acts
and Attestations of the Justices, both in Court and out. - It will
be own'd by the impartial World, that nothing could be fairer: I
am not, however, at all surprized, to find, publish'd in a late
New-York Paper, a letter said to be written in this Town, in which
among other chit-chat, it is asserted, that from the borders of
Connecticut to Boston, there are people who "exclaim against the
Town for imposing on the Country by false Representations:" This
Narrative has been in a Manner adopted by the Province; for I am
assured, that in the last Session of the General Assembly, the
House of Representatives, generously granted to the Town a sum of
Money to defrey the Charge of a vessel, hired for no other Purpose
but to carry it to London; that his Majesty's Council concurr'd
with the House in the grant, and his Honor the lieutenant-governor
gave his Assent to it. - Arts have been used, and are still using,
to detach the rest of the Colonies from this Province; and the
same arts are every day practised, to divide the Towns in this
Province from the Capital. It is the Machiavellian Doctrine,
Divide et impera -Divide and Rule: But the people of this Province
and of this Continent are too wise, and they are lately become too
experienc'd, to be catch'd in such a snare. While their common
Rights are invaded, they will consider themselves, as embark'd in
the same bottom: And that Union which they have hitherto
maintain'd, against all the Efforts of their more powerful common
Enemies, will still cement, notwithstanding such trifling letter
writers as these.

The candor of this Town was indeed such, that at their annual
Meeting in March, by a vote, they restrain'd their Committee from
publishing the Narrative here, altho' it was printed, lest it
might unduly prejudice those, whose Lot it might be, to be Jurors
to try these Causes: This Restraint, they continued at their
Meeting in May, and untill the Trials should be over.-A Caution,
which all good Men will applaud: As it discover'd a sense of
Justice; as well as the greatest Humanity towards those Men, who
had spilt the blood of Citizens, like Water upon the Ground! -A
temper far from vindictive - Calm and sedate, when it might have
been expected, if ever, they would be off their guard. And yet so
barbarous and cruel, so infamously mean and base were the Enemies
of this Town, who are the common Enemies of all America and of the
Truth itself, that they had it falsely inserted in the public
News-Papers in London, that the Inhabitants had seiz'd upon Capt.
Preston and hung him, like Porteus upon a sign-post!

I shall now, in a few instances, endeavor to show, the temper
which many of the Soldiers discover'd after the fatal Catastrophe
was over. The Reader may have observed, that I am careful to
distinguish, between the Evidence given in Court, from that which
was given out of Court: Witnesses to this point, it is not to be
suppos'd, were admissible at the Trial; unless perhaps the one
immediately following: This is a creditable person who is Mistress
of a reputable family in the Town. She testified before the
Magistrates, and was ready to swear it in Court, if she had been
called, that on the Evening of the 5th of March, a number of
Soldiers were assembled at Green's Barracks, and opposite to her
Gate, which is near those Barracks; that they stood very still,
until the Guns were fired in King-Street; then they clapped their
hands and gave a Cheer, saying, this is all we want; they then ran
to their Barracks and came out again in a few minutes, all with
their arms, and ran towards King-Street.1 - These Barracks are
about a quarter of a Mile from King-Street: Their standing very
still untill they heard the firing, compared with their subsequent
Conduct, looks as if they expected it: It seems as tho' they knew
what the signal should be, and the part they were to act in
consequence of it. This, perhaps, may be tho't by some to be too
straining: I will not urge it; but leave it to any one to judge,
how far, if at all, it affords grounds of Suspicion, that there
was an understanding, between the Soldiers in King-Street at the
time of the firing, and these; especially if it be true, as has
been said, that they fired without the command of their officer.-
There was also a Witness, an householder of good reputation, whose
testimony was similar to this: That the Soldiers from Green's
Barracks, on that Evening, rushed by him, with their arms, & ran
towards King-Street, saying, this is our time or chance; that he
never saw Dogs so greedy for their Prey, and the Serjeants could
hardly keep them in their Ranks 2 - Another swore, that after
the firing, he saw the Soldiers drawn up under Arms, and heard the
officers, as they walked backwards and forwards say to one another,
Damn it, what a fine fire that was! How bravely it dispers'd the Mob3
- A gentleman belonging to Halifax in Nova Scotia testified that when
the body of Troops was drawn up before the guardhouse (which was
presently after the Massacre) he heard an Officer say to another,
that this was fine work, just what he wanted!4 - I shall add but
one more to this list, and that is, the testimony of a Witness,
well known in this Town for an honest man; who declared that at
about one o'Clock the next morning, as he was going alone from his
own House to the Town-House, he met a Serjeant of the 29th with
eight or nine Soldiers, all with very large Clubs and Cutlasses,
when one of them, speaking of the Slaughter, swore by God, it was
a fine thing, and said, you shall see more of it.5 - To these I
cannot help subjoining, the testimony of Mr. John Cox, a very
reputable Inhabitant of this Town ; who swore in Court at one of
the late trials, that after the firing, he went to take up the
dead; that he told the Soldiers, it was a cowardly trick in them
to kill men within reach of their Bayonets, with nothing in their
hands; and that the officer said, damn them, fire again, and let
them take the consequence - to which he replied, you have killed
enough already to hang you all: But it has since appeared that he
was mistaken. - There are others, who saw, a very large party from
the Southguard, after the firing, take their post under Liberty-
Tree; by which one would think they intended to act the same part
which the Soldiers in New-York had before done, as indeed some of
them had threatened they would, and which would probably have bro't on
a new scene of confusion. But the commanding officer, very prudently
ordered the regiment to be under arms, which prevented it.

If these testimonies would not have been pertinent to the issue of
the late trial, I think it necessary to adduce them here, to
convince the world of the wretched state this Town had been in;
the reason they had to apprehend, while such blood-thirsty inmates
were quarter'd among them ; and the necessity they were tinder,
constantly to be on their guard, while there were even such
exultations at the barbarous "action" of the Evening.

Much was bro't into Court, to show that the Town was in a state of
disorder on that Evening, and previous to the Affray at Murray's
Barracks; Witnesses were admitted to testify, that they had been
met by one and another arm'd with Clubs; but nothing appeared
there, to show the Cause and even the necessity of it: Thus, one
of the prisoners witnesses testified in Court, that at seven
o'clock, going to the South-End of the Town, he met forty or fifty
in small parties, four or five in a party; and divers others swore
to the same purpose: They did not indeed say, whether they knew
them to be Inhabitants; it is as probable, that they were
Soldiers, as inhabitants, if not more so; for it was sworn before
the Magistrates, by a person of credit, that on the Saturday
before, he saw the Soldiers making Clubs.6 Another was ready to
testify in Court, that thirty of these Clubs or Bludgeons, were made
by the Soldiers, in his own Shop. And in the part of the Town where
the before-mentioned witness was going, a gentleman was early in the
Evening attacked by two Soldiers, one of them arm'd with a Club, and
the other with a broad Sword; the latter struck him, and threatned
that he should soon hear more of it.7 It was notorious, that the
Soldiers were frequently seen on that Evening, arm'd with Clubs, as
well as other Weapons; and the night before, very late, it can be
prov'd that forty or fifty of them were seen, thus arm'd, in several
parts of the Town in terror of his Majesty's subjects: But in the
judgment of some men, every party that was seen with Clubs, or in
the modern term, bludgeons, to be sure, must have been
inhabitants. It had been testified, that on the Saturday before
the fifth of March, the Soldiers, had not only been seen making
their Clubs, as is before mentioned, but from what the witness
could collect from their conversation, they were resolved to be
reveng'd on the Monday.8 If they were in such danger, as some will
pretend they were, pray, why were they not kept in their Barracks,
especially after eight o'clock, according to their own rules?
Instead of this, we find the testimony of a person, who was not an
inhabitant of the Town: that being at the South-End on that Evening,
exactly at Eight o'Clock, he saw there Eleven Soldiers; an officer
met them, and order'd them to appear at their respective places at
the time; and if they should see any of the inhabitants of the Town,
or any other people not belonging to them, with Arms, Clubs or any
other warlike Weapon, more than two being assembled together, to
order them to stop: and if they refused, to stop them with their
firelocks, and all that should take their part - The officer went
Northward and the Soldiers Southward9 - Here were orders discretely
given indeed! And well becoming a gentleman, in any command over
troops, sent here, as the Minister pretended, to aid the civil
Magistrate in keeping the peace; and with directions never to act
without one. Will any one suppose, that the Town could be safe, even
from this band of Soldiers only; especially while under such
direction and influence. This is a single instance -No wonder that
when the bells soon after rang as for fire, & the people in that
same part of the Town, came into the Street with their Buckets,
they were told by some, as a gentleman who was a witness in Court
for the prisoners said they were, that they had better bring their
Clubs than their Buckets - Such appearances were enough to put the
Town in Motion - It is a glaring mistake to say, the Soldiers were
in danger from the inhabitants: The reverse is true; the inhabitants
were in danger from the Soldiers. - With all the indulgence which
was shown, and perhaps ought to have been shown to prisoners at
the bar, upon trial for life, not a single instance was prov'd, of
abuse offer'd to Soldiers that Evening, previous to the insolent
behavior of those who rush'd out of Murray's Barracks, with
Cutlasses, Clubs and other Weapons, and fell upon all whom they
met: On the contrary, there had been many instances of their
insulting and even assaulting the Inhabitants in every part of
the Town; and that without Discrimination ; which did not look, as
if they design'd to seek revenge, for any former Quarrel, upon
particular persons.

As it was said, in Court that the unhappy Persons who fell a
sacrifice to the cruel revenge of the Soldiers, had brought their
death upon their own heads, I must not omit saying, what I think
ought to be said, in behalf of those who cannot now speak for
themselves - Mr. Maverick, a young gentleman of a good family and
a blameless life, was at supper in the house of one of his
friends, and went out when the Bells rang as for fire. Mr.
Caldwell, a young seaman and of a good character, had been at
School to perfect himself in the art of Navigation; and had just
return'd to the house of a reputable person in this town, to whose
daughter he made his visits, with the honorable intention of
Marriage: He also went out when the bells rang. Mr. Gray was of a
good family; he was at his own house the whole of the Evening,
saving his going to a neighbour's house to borrow the News-Paper
of the day and returning; He went out on the ringing of the bells;
and altho' a child swore in Court, that he saw him with a stick,
after the bells rang, yet another witness saw him before he got
into King-Street without a stick; others saw him in King-Street
and testified that he had no stick; and when he was shot, the
Witness at whose feet he fell, declared, as is mentioned in a
former Paper, that he had no stick, and his arms were folded in
his bosom; so that it is probable, the young Witness mistook the
person. Mr. Attucks, it is said, was at supper when the bells
rang; he went out as others did, to enquire where the fire was; in
passing thro' Dock-Square, he saw the affray at Murray's Barracks;
and hearing a man say that if any one would join, he would drive
the Soldiers into the Barracks, he join'd; & they two were
principally concerned in doing that piece of service. Great pains
were taken to make it appear that he attacked the Soldiers in
King-Street, but the proof fail'd: He was leaning upon his stick
when he fell, which certainly was not a threatning posture: It may
be supposed that he had as good right, by the law of the land, to
carry a stick for his own and his neighbor's defence, in a time of
such danger, as the Soldier who shot him had, to be arm'd with
musquet and ball, for the defence of himself and his friend the
Centinel: And if he at any time, lifted up his weapon of defence,
it was surely, not more than a Soldiers levelling his gun charg'd
with death at the multitude: If he had killed a Soldier, he might
have been hanged for it, and as a traitor too; for even to attack
a Soldier on his post, was pronounc'd treason: The Soldier shot
Attucks, who was at a distance from him, and killed him,. - and he
was convicted of Manslaughter. - As to Mr. Carr, the other
deceas'd person, it is doubtful with what intent he came out: He
was at the house of one Mr. Field, when the bells rang; Mrs.
Field, and another witness who was at the house, declared that
Carr went up Stairs, and got his Sword, which he put between his
Coat and his Surtout, and it was with difficulty that they
prevail'd upon him to lay by his Sword: They could not persuade
him to keep in: It does not appear that he took any part in the
contest of the Evening: He was soon shot: and tho' dead, he
afterwards spoke in Court, by the mouth of another, in favour of
the prisoners; declaring among other things already mentioned,
that he was a native of Ireland, and had often seen mobs and
Soldiers fire upon them there, but never saw them bear half so
much before they fired as these did.

The conduct of the Soldiers and of the people in King-Street,
shall be the Subject of a future Paper. In the mean time, I must
desire Philanthrop, who appear'd in the last Evening Post, if he
pleases, to read again what I observ'd upon the case of Killroi in
particular, in this Gazette of the 17th Inst;1 and to consider,
whether he did me justice in saying, that I had publish'd "the
only piece of Evidence produc'd against Killroi and argued upon
that alone:" I then publish'd several material pieces of Evidence
against him; and upon the whole concluded, that what was called
the furor brevis was, in my opinion, of rather too long - a
continuance, to come within the indulgence of the law. I then
tho't, and I believe I am far from being singular in thinking it;
that for a man repeatedly to say, that he had wanted an
opportunity of firing upon the inhabitants ever since he had been
in the Country and that he would never miss an opportunity of
doing it; and afterwards, when forewarn'd against it, to fire upon
the inhabitants, kill one man upon the spot, and then
unrelentingly attempt to stab another, who had not offer'd him any
injury, all which was sworn in open Court: If such a man is not,
hostis humanis generis, he discover'd at least, a total want of
remorse at the shedding of human blood, as well as rancorous
malice from the beginning. Philanthrop further says, that "there
was no evidence given in Court" of the wound in Mr. Gray's head;
and "that it is, in the highest degree unjust, to blame the Court
and jury for not regarding evidence which they never heard": If he
will candidly recur to the aforementioned Paper he will find, that
I expressly said, that the witness being out of the Province, the
evidence of so savage an act of barbarity could not be produc'd in
Court; nor did I take it upon me to "blame the Court and Jury for
not regarding it " - "I do not charge Philanthrop with a design"
to amuse his readers in this, or any other instance; but if he
intends to continue the subject, I would advise him to be more
cautious lest he misleads them for the future. Again he says "the
impossibility of the bayonets being bloody the next morning, is
demonstrable from this, that every gun and bayonet of the party
was scowered clean that very night"; but to borrow his own words
"it is certain no such evidence was given in Court": If this could
have been proved, I dare say it would have been done without fail.
Philanthrop may suppose it to be true, from its being, as he says,
"the constant practice of the army after firing"; but such a vague
supposition will not invalidate the oaths of creditable witnesses
in open Court, who swore that Killroi's bayonet was bloody, five
inches from the point.

To vilify and abuse "the most amiable and respectable characters,"
I detest from the bottom of my heart: At the same time, I leave it
to Philanthrop, or any one who pleases, to write Panegyricks, on
the living or the dead.

Dec. 25th.

1 Narrative Appendix p. 68
2 Idem p. 68
3 Idem 69.
4 Idem. 22.
5 Idem.61
6 Idem.4.
7 Idem. 12.
8 Idem. p. 4, This alludes to the affray at the Ropewalks: The
Soldiers at Green's Barracks had made three attacks upon the
Ropemakers, while they were at work, in revenge, for one of them
being told by a hand in the Walk that "if he wanted work he might
empty his Vault": Enough, to enkindle the flame of resentment, in
the breast of a common Soldier, who of all men has the most delicate
sentiments of Honor. Two of the Prisoners were of the party in these
noble Exploits, as was testified in Court.
9 Idem. P. 48.


[Boston Gazette, December 31, 1770.]

Messieurs PRINTERS.

I Desire you would correct the following mistake I made in your
last paper. I said "there were two only of the witnesses in the
late trial that made mention of the tall Gentleman in a red cloak
and white wig, viz. Mr. Hunter and Mr. Selkrig": In looking over
my minutes, I find there was another, viz. Mr. Archibald Bowman,
who also made mention of him. Mr. Bowman testified, that they (the
people in dock-square) "stood thick round him some time, and after
cried huzza for the main guard"; in which he agreed with Mr.
Hunter: But he declared, that he did not remember their striking
their sticks at Simpson's Store, & saying, they would do for the
Soldiers, tho' Mr. Selkrig, who was with him at the same time,
declared, that those words were spoken by numbers at Simpson's
Store. Mr. Selkrig mention'd nothing of their saying huzza, &c.
From all which we may conclude, that these cries were not general;
especially, as other witnesses declared that the people also cried,
home, home. Mr. David Mitchelson testified, that "they cried, they
would go to the main guard, and that the effect soon followed": But
they went not to the main guard, nor was the main guard attack'd thro'
the whole evening. He further said, the bells were ringing. - The
truth is, the generality of the people of the town thought there was
a fire; but not knowing where, they naturally, in passing thro' the
main streets, from the north and south parts of the town, stopped in
dock square, which is in the center: There, they found there was
not fire; but that the soldiers at Murray's barracks, had, if I
may use the expression, broke loose. Mr. Selkrig said, that the
[people] "made unsuccessful attacks upon the barracks"; but
immediately adds, "that he saw nothing" (of the attacks, I suppose;
for it was impossible he should see them, there being a stone
building between the house in which he was, and the barracks) but
that "they went up the alley and came back suddenly"; which
corresponds with what another of the prisoners witnesses said,
who was on the other side of the stone building, and therefore
could see; viz, that the soldiers several times presented their
guns at the people: Mr. Selkrig must be candidly suppos'd to intend,
that he judg'd the people to have made attacks upon the barracks,
and unsuccessfully, from seeing them retreat only: But his conclusion
might not be well grounded: It is as natural to conclude that these
sudden retreats were occasioned by the soldiers attacking the people,
as they had before done; and their levelling their guns and threatning
to make a lane thro' them, as was sworn in open court. Mr. Dickson,
who was with Mr. Selkrig, and the other Scotch gentleman at Mr.
Hunter's house, declared, that "a party came running down the alley,
as if they had met with opposition there"; which confirms what Mr.
Selkrig had said of their sudden retreats, and strengthens the
supposition I have now made.

But the writer in Mr. Draper's paper of the 20th Instant, has not
yet fulfilled his promise to "ascertain the person" in a red
cloak: I am sollicitous that the publick should know the very man;
and the rather, because it has been impudently insinuated, that he
was a gentleman in office in this town.

Dec. 27.


[Boston Gazette, January 7, 1771]


I Have taken occasion to mention the unhappy persons, who lost
their lives on the fatal fifth of March And I think it must appear
to every candid reader, that they were totally unconnected with
each other; and that it cannot be even suspected, that either, or
to be sure, more than one of them had any ill intention in coming
abroad on that evening; much less, that they were combin'd
together to do any sort of mischief: Nay, it is even to be
doubted, whether they ever had any knowledge of each other. I will
further observe, that there was not the shadow of evidence to
prove, that any other persons, excepting the Soldiers, had form'd a
design to commit disorders at that or any other time: Unless credit
is to be given in a court of law, to the hearsay of an hearsay; the
story which one man told another at sea, and months after the facts
were committed: Evidence which was in vain objected to by the council
for the crown; but to the honor of one of the prisoners council was
by him interrupted and stopped. This worthy gentleman declared in
open court that it was not legal, and that it ought not to have the
least weight in the minds of the jurors; upon which it was ruled,
that the witness should proceed no further, and he was dismiss'd.

I come now to consider the tragical scene, as it was acted in
King-street; in doing which, I shall confine myself chiefly, to
the evidence as it was given in court: If I vary from the truth,
let Philanthrop, or any one else correct me; it is far from my
design: And I am willing to appeal for facts, to the book which
Philanthrop has told us of; provided always, that the facts are
there stated with impartiality and truth: This I think it
necessary to premise, because I find it advertiz'd, that the book
is to be publish'd, not by the direction, but with the permission
of the court: A distinction, which appears to me to be of some

It may be necessary, first to enquire into the situation the
centinel was in, for whose relief the party was said to have
afterwards gone down. By the testimony given in court, by Col.
Marshall, who had spent the evening at a friend's house in dock-
square, it appears that at nine o'clock all was quiet there; and
passing thro' Royal - exchange lane into King street, where the
centry was, he found all as peaceable there; "the street never
clearer," was his expression. It is probable that very soon after
this, the difference arose between the centry and the barber's
boy; for Col. Marshall testified, that some time after, he heard a
distant cry of murder; and it is without doubt the centry struck
the boy, with his gun, - It was then that Colonel Marshall saw a
party turn out from the main-guard, and soon after another party
rush'd thro' Quaker-lane, all arm'd - It is probable, that these
were the Soldiers who, as they ran into Cornhill, abus'd the
people there, as I have before mention'd: Upon the appearance of
these parties, it is said, that the barber's boy, and his fellow-
apprentice, ran either into his Master's or a neighbor's shop. -
Mr. William Parker, one of the prisoner's witnesses declared, that
when he came into King street, which was after the affray began at
Murray's barracks, all was quiet and peaceable: But presently the
barber's boy, with two or three more, came to the centry - they
push'd one another against him (in resentment it is to be suppos'd
for) they said, he had knock'd the boy down - In the trial of
Capt. Preston, the boy himself swore in Court, that the centry had
struck him with his bayonet. Mr. Parker adds, that presently a
number, about fifteen, came thro' Silsby's lane, which leads from
Murray's barracks, with sticks like pieces of pine in their hands
- The most of them small boys, 1 or 2 of them large lubbers, as he
called them - they said, let us go to the main-guard; by which it
does not appear that they interested themselves in the dispute
with the centry, nor does it appear that they molested the main-
guard, if they went up to it - Soon after, five or six more came
up Royal exchange lane, which also leads from Murray's barracks,
with sticks like the others; but neither did the witness say, that
these interfered with the centry - Mr. Parker further said, that
he went up by Mr. Jackson's corner, and met twenty or thirty more
coming out of Cornhill, a good many men among them, some with
sticks and some with walking canes - These opened the matter to
him; and told him there had been a squabble at Murray's barracks,
but that the Soldiers were driven in, and all was over. - These
different parties met in a cluster, at and near Quaker lane, and
not long after seem'd to disperse; and he soon went off himself,
not leaving above twelve or fifteen in the street: And, just as he
got home, which might not be more than ten minutes, he heard the
bells ring, and the guns discharg'd - No one I believe will
dispute the veracity, either of Col. Marshall or Mr. Parker
Mr Edward Payne, a merchant of note in this town, was also
summoned as a witness for the prisoners, and his testimony will
undoubtedly be rely'd upon, by all who know him or his character.
Mr. Payne came out after Mr. Parker left the street; for he
declared in Court, that at 20 minutes after nine, when the bells
rang, he went out into the street, and was told, as Mr. Parker had
been, that the soldiers had sallied out of their barracks, and had
cut & wounded a number, but were driven in again - He declared
that the centinel was walking by himself, and no body near him -
so that the barber's boy and his three or four comrades, were at
that time gone off - He heard a considerable noise in Cornhill,
and a noise of people coming up Silsby's alley - they were
inhabitants: Fourteen or fifteen, perhaps twenty, passed by him,
some with sticks, others without; as many of the latter as the
former - They cried where are they? It is necessary to connect the
circumstances, as the facts are related: Here therefore I will
remind the reader, that besides the Soldiers that came out of
Murray's barracks, and who now may be suppos'd to have been driven
in, there was also a party that had issued from the main guard,
and another party of Soldiers who came thro' Quaker-lane, all
arm'd with naked cutlasses, &c. who went into Cornhill not long
before, and there insulted every person they met: These were the
men whom the persons mentioned by Mr. Payne, in all probability
refer'd to, when they cried, where are they. - Certainly no
persons could be tho't blame-worthy, for pursuing a banditti, who
had already put a number of peaceable people in great terror of
their lives, with a design to prevent their doing further mischief:
There is no foundation to suppose, that they had any other design:
Yet these are the persons, who, as some would have it, were the
faulty cause of the slaughter, that afterwards ensued: It was
indeed unfortunate that they happened to take that rout; for Mr.
Payne added, that a lad came up and said, that the centry had
knock'd down a boy, upon which the people turn'd about, and went
directly to the centry: By which, one would think, that they had
no design to attack the centry before: and that they would not
even have spoken to him, had they not been told that he had
injured the boy: Till then, the centry had not been the object of
their attention; and I must insist upon it, that they had then as
good right by the law, to resent the injury done to the boy, as
the party from the main-guard had afterwards, to resent the injury
done, if there was any, to the centry - The prudence in either
case I will not undertake to vindicate - Mr. Payne further said,
he was afraid of what might happen from the peoples surrounding
the centry, and wished they might be taken off - He returned to
his own door, which is nearly on the opposite side of the street,
and there heard the people cry to the centry, fire, damn you, why
don't you fire. - I have just observ'd, that Mr. Payne expressed
his concern at the peoples surrounding the centry: Mr. Henry Knox,
another witness for the prisoners, a young gentleman of a very
good reputation, was probably near the centry while Mr. Payne was
at his own door - He testified in court, that the people were
round the centry, and they said he was going to fire - That he was
waving his gun- That he (Mr. Knox) told him, if he fired he must
die - That in return he damn'd them, and said, that if they
molested him, he would fire - That the boys were damning him and
daring him to fire - That he heard one say he would go and
knock him down for sweeping (his gun) - that he thought the centry
snapped - He added that he saw nothing thrown at the centry,
altho' he was near him till after the party came down and Mr.
Payne finished his testimony with saying, that he perceived
nothing but the talk that led him to think the Soldiers would fire.

Mr. Leigh, and Mr. Frost, both witnesses for the prisoners,
testified, that the barber's boy came up to the people, and
pointing at the centry, said, here 's the son of a b--ch that
knocked me down; upon which one of the witnesses said, the people
cried kill him - Both said, that the centry ran to the custom-
house steps, knocked at the door, but could not get in - neither
of them mention'd any thing thrown at him, nor any attack upon him
- he prim'd and loaded his gun and levelled it; told the people to
stand off, and called to the main-guard; upon which Capt. Preston
and his party came down - Mr. Bulkly, summoned also by the
prisoners, testified that he thought the centry was in danger, by
the number of people about him, and the noise; and mentioned no
other reason for his thinking so - he said that a person told
Capt. Preston, that they were killing the centry - This person was
probably one Thomas Greenwood, a servant in the custom-house; for
he himself declared before the magistrates, that he was in the
custom-house, and went from thence to the main-guard, and told one
of the Soldiers, if they did not go down to the centry, he was
afraid they would hurt him, tho' he had not seen any person insult
him - This man, at the same time depos'd, that he saw two or three
snow balls fall near the steps of the custom-house, but saw no
person throw any stones; tho' he had placed himself in the most
convenient room in the house for observation - Mr. Harrison Gray
mention'd the people round the centry, making use of opprobrious
language, and threatening; but said nothing of their attacking
him, or throwing anything at him - Mr. Hinckley declared, that the
people went to the centry, and at last some of them cried kill
him, but did not see any attempt to hurt him - Mr. Cornwall swore,
that he saw snow balls and 2 or 3 oyster shells thrown at the
centry, but did not think they hit him - he heard several young
gentlemen perswading the people to go off, and believed they all
would have gone off, if the Soldiers had not come down - Mr.
Helyer declared, that he came into King-street, and saw the centry
and twenty or thirty persons - some boys at their diversion - The
centry wav'd his gun in a way that had a tendency to exasperate
the people - Mr. Brewer saw the centry with his bayonet breast
high - a number of boys, twenty or more round him, talking but
doing nothing. Mr. Bailey was standing with the centry on the
custom-house steps - saw 20 or 30 boys of about 14 years old -
they were throwing pieces of ice at him, large and hard enough to
hurt him, but did not know whether they hit him. This must appear
very strange as he was so near him - his standing with him on the
steps, would lead one to think he was an acquaintance of the
centry; which is confirmed by another circumstance, for he said
that when the party came down, one of the Soldiers put his bayonet
to his breast, and the centry told him not to hurt him - Mr.
Simpson swore, that the centry knock'd at the customhouse door -
that a person came to the door and spoke to him, upon which he
turn'd and loaded his gun - There was one witness, and I think but
one, who mention'd pieces of sea-coal thrown at the centry; and
that was Andrew a Negro - A fellow of a lively imagination indeed!
- One, who I believe could tell as good a story even to my lord of
H. and give his lordship as circumstantial an account of "the
unhappy transaction", as some, who have already had the honor of
doing it, & who may think themselves to be Andrew's betters - he
is remarkable for telling romantick stories in the circles of his
acquaintance - And whether his fancy had beguil'd his own
judgment, or whether he had a mind to try his success at painting
upon so serious an occasion, or lastly, whether he was resolv'd to
do his utmost to save the prisoners, I pretend not to say; but he
certainly made some folks believe, that the ashes made of sea-coal
burnt with great savings in the adjacent offices, were like the
cinders thrown out of a blacksmith's shop -Andrew's evidence, if
not his judgment, was greatly rely'd upon; and the more, because
his master, who is in truth an honest man, came into court and
swore to his character; and further said, that Andrew had told
him, that He really believ'd the inhabitants were to blame - It
is, I am apt to think, in general true, that no man knows so
little of the real character of his servant, as the master himself
does: It is well known, that the Negroes of this town have been
familiar with the soldiers; and that some of them have been
tamper'd with to cut their master's throats: I hope Andrew is not
one of these. His character for integrity and even for learning,
for he can both read & write, has been upon this occasion wrought
to so high a pitch, that I am loth even to hint any thing that may
tend to depreciate it; otherwise, I should say, that there are
some, whose kitchens Andrew has frequented, who will not give him
quite so exalted a character, as others, who had not known him,
thought he deserved. - Several others, witnesses for the prisoners
testified to the same purpose; that the people encroach'd upon the
centry; that he loaded his gun and threatned to fire upon them;
and that they in return dared him to fire, and throw'd a few snow
balls. Mr. Hall said, that he presented his gun at the people, and
they threw snow balls and some oyster-shells at him; and they hit
his gun two or three times - Mr. Payne who saw the centry when he
was alone, and until the party came up and fired, "perceived
nothing but the talk, that he thought would have induced him or
any of the Soldiers to fire": Words are not an assault, and could
not warrant him to fire: Mr. Knox and others saw nothing thrown at
him nor any attack made on him: Mr.-----and some others said, they
saw snow balls and other things thrown at him; but it appears very
probable, from the course of the evidence, that if any thing was
thrown at him, it was not till he had loaded his gun, threatened
to fire, & waved it in such a manner as tended to exasperate
people; and as Mr. Knox tho't, had snapped his gun. The first
assault was made by the centry himself, when upon a foolish
provocation in words only, he struck the barber's boy: He renewed
the assault, when he loaded his gun and presented it upon the
people, threatning to fire upon them: In doing this, he put his
Majesty's subjects in terror of their lives, against the law of
the land; and they would have been justified in seizing him at

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