The Boston Massacre Trials: A Chronology

British troops landing in Boston (Revere)

October 30, 1735 John Adams is born in Boston.
March 22, 1765 Enactment of the Stamp Act, imposing a tax on all printed materials.  The Stamp Act proves highly unpopular in Massachusetts and other colonies.
March 18, 1766 The Stamp Act is repealed, but the same day the parliament passes the Declaratory Act asserting its right to bind the colonies by its laws.
1767 The Townshend Revenue Act of 1767 authorizes the use of writs in order to locate goods subject to custom duties.  The Act is detested by many Bostonians.
May 9, 1768 John Hancock's sloop Liberty arrives in Boston with a cargo of wine.  A customs official is temporarily held hostage as the wine is unloaded without payment of the required custom duties.e Liberty is seized.
June 10, 1768 Based on a report of the May 9 customs violation and rough treatment of a customs official, the Liberty is seized.  Rioters attack customs officials.
Sept. 28, 1768 Two regiments of British regulars land in Boston to deal with growing unrest.  They are quartered in various public places throughout the city.
1769 Francis Bernard resigns as Governor of Massachusetts Province.  He is replaced by Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson.
March 2, 1770 Civilians and British soldiers clash at John Gray's Ropewalk in the Fort Hill section of Boston. One of the soldiers involved in the fighting is Matthew Killroy, later convicted of manslaughter in the Boston Massacre trial.
March 5, 1770 A crowd of Bostonians begins throwing chunks of ice, oyster shells, piece of coal and other objects at a British guard near the Custom House.  Captain Thomas Preston orders the main guard out to protect the sentry and restore order.  After a soldier is hit with a stick, he yells "fire!" and shoots into the crowd.  Other shots follow.  When the shooting stops, five civilians lay mortally wounded.  The incident becomes known as "the Boston Massacre."
March 6, 1770 Captain Preston is arrested, interrogated, and sent to jail.  Lt. Governor Hutchinson calls for calm.  A group of angry citizens gather in Faneuil Hall, where they call for the immediate removal of all British troops.  John Adams and Josiah Quincy agree to defend Preston and the soldiers.
March 8, 1770 The first four victims of the massacre are buried in the Granary Burying Ground.  All shops are closed.  Church bells ring throughout the city of Boston.
March 12, 1770 Captain Preston offers his views of the events of March 5 in a deposition.
March 13, 1770 A grand jury indicts Captain Preston and eight soldiers are indicted for murder in connection with the massacre.
March 16, 1770 A frigate carrying reports and letters of Hutchinson relating the events of March 5 leaves Boston bound for England.
March 17, 1770 The fifth and last victim of the massacre, Patrick Carr, is buried in the Granary Burying Ground.
April 1770 Advice from London concerning the handling of prosecutions for deaths and injuries resulting from the March 5 shootings reaches Hutchinson.
April 28, 1770 Preston's account of events, and complaints about the Boston public, are published in the London paper, Public Advertiser.
June 21-25, 1770 Captain Preston's London letter, much to his dismay, is published in Boston papers, turning public sentiment against him.
July 1770 Copies of A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston begin circulating in Boston.  The narrative is seen as an attempt to influence potential jurors in the upcoming trials.
Sept. 7, 1770 Preston and the soldiers are formally arraigned on charges of murder.  All plead "Not Guilty."
Oct. 21, 1770 The eight soldiers appeal from jail to be tried along with their captain.  Their request is denied.
Oct. 24-30, 1770 Captain Preston is tried.  A jury acquits Preston after the evidence fails to establish that he gave the order to fire.
Nov. 27, 1770 The trial of the eight soldiers begins.
Dec. 5, 1770  Six of the soldiers are acquitted on all charges.  Two soldiers, Montgomery and Killroy are convicted of manslaugter. 
Dec. 14, 1770  Montgomery and Killroy plead "the benefit of clergy" to reduce their punishment to branding.  Sheriff Greenleaf brands the two men on their right thumbs.
Late Dec., 1770 Captain Preston sails for England.  He receives 200 pounds in compensation for his troubles relating to the Boston Massacre.
Dec. 16, 1773 In a act of protest against the Tea Act of 1773, a gang of men with blackened faces board three ships and dump their cargo of tea into Boston harbor.  The Boston Tea Party leads to the Port Act, closing the port of Boston to all commerce, and to the quartering of troops in Boston.
March 5, 1774 On the fouth anniversary of the Boston Massacre, John Hancock delivers an eloquent and spirited oration to a large crowd.
Sept. 5, 1774 With the spirit of independence rising, the first Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia.
April 19, 1775 Paul Revere makes his famous midnight ride to warn citizens of the arrival of British troops.  The American Revolution is about to begin.
1887 The General Court of Massachusetts votes to erect a monument honoring the victims of the Boston Massacre.  The Massachusetts Historical Society expresses its disapproval.

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