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The Choice for Revolution
The Boston Massacre

Headline from the Boston MassacreIn 1768, Britain sent 4,000 soldiers to Boston to enforce the Townshend Acts, which taxed glass, tea, paper and paint. Adams, who had been away, returned to find the occupied city full of Redcoats. He later wrote that this "was a strong proof to me, that the determination in Great Britain to subjugate us, was too deep and inveterate ever to be altered by us."

As months passed, tensions between the British soldiers and the Bostonians grew. On the night of March 5, 1770, a small group of Redcoats fired into an angry Boston crowd, killing five people. The Boston Massacre, as it became known, made the colonists even angrier. British captain Thomas Preston and eight of his soldiers faced murder charges.

Adams was asked to defend Preston, who couldn't find a lawyer willing to take his case. Adams had no love for the British forces, and knew that most people in Boston believed the soldiers were guilty of a horrible crime. But he also thought that everyone, no matter how unpopular, deserved a fair trial.

Adams had to make a choice. Would he:

defend Captain Preston or refuse the case?



Find out what John Adams did
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John & Abigail Adams American Experience

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