BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Thursday marks the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, the killing of five colonists by British soldiers garrisoned in downtown Boston in 1770.
Peter Drummey, Librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, told WBZ NewsRadio's Jeff Brown many people know the phrase "Boston Massacre," but aren't aware of the details.
"The event itself was a series of conflicts between civilians and soldiers throughout the town, but there was a sentry guarding the Custom House, where the customs officers lived and worked ... a crowd gathered, and he had apparently hit a boy with his musket, who he believed was disrespectful."
Drummey said a crowd gathered and began throwing things at the soldiers, and the soldiers felt threatened.
"What we really know is, shooting breaks out, and five people are killed or fatally wounded, and other people are wounded," Drummey said.
The soldiers were tried for murder in the fall. Two were convicted of manslaughter, but the rest were found not guilty; the trial is noteworthy because a young lawyer named John Adams came forward to defend the soldiers.
"The outcome of it probably catches people by surprise—this idea of most of the accused found innocent, and two people convicted of a very serious crime, manslaughter," Drummey said.
An image from 1896 showing the Boston Massacre in 1770. (Getty Images)
The day will begin with a formal service by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution at 9 a.m. in the Old Granary Burial Ground on Tremont Street. They will lay a wreath at the graves of the victims of the massacre—Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr.
Historical vignettes will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors will get to talk with reenactors about the period.
"The events will be focused on the scene of the shooting, which is right by the old State House on State Street," Drummey said. "There will be people speaking about different aspects of this, reenactors explaining what they do and how they dress, and the soldiers, how they're equipped, things there for young people, students and children."
Then, leading up to 7 p.m., a reenactment of the events leading to the shooting and the shooting itself will be held between the Old South Meeting House and the Old State House.
Drummey talked about the importance of the event in our nation's history, as well as our city's.
"This is truly shocking in 18th Century Boston, that soldiers stationed here to enforce order have essentially killed unarmed civilians in the main street of the town," Drummey said. "This didn't make the Revolution happen, but it's one of these events along the path that led to it."
Listen to the full interview with Drummey below.
WBZ NewsRadio's Jeff Brown (@jeffbrownwbz) reports