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    The Boston Massacre - Newspaper: The Essex Gazette, four pages, 10" x 15.75". Salem, Massachusetts, "from Tuesday, March 13, to Tuesday, March 20, 1770." Printed by Samuel Hall. On March 5, 1770, as the 29th Regiment led by Col. Thomas Preston went on duty at the Customs House on King Street in Boston, relieving the 8th Regiment, they were met by a large crowd of civilians who taunted them, chanting "Fire and be damned," in effect daring the British soldiers to shoot. Capt. Preston, unable to disperse the crowd, ordered his troops "Don't fire!" but they opened fire, perhaps not hearing him, killing five men, three of whom died instantly. Seven months later, Preston was tried for murder, as were the soldiers in a separate trial shortly thereafter. Defended by patriots John Adams and Josiah Quincy, Jr., all were acquitted.

    This issue includes six articles and letters mentioning the Boston Massacre. (1) First page. Reporting a petition of the Town of Roxbury to Thomas Hutchinson, Lieut. Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, dated March 8, 1770, acknowledging "the very great inconveniencies and sufferings of our fellow-subjects and countrymen, the inhabitants of the Town of Boston, occasioned by several regiments of the King's troops being quartered in the body of that town for several months past; in a peculiar manner we desire to express our astonishment, grief and indignation, at the horrid and barbarous action committed last Monday Evening, by a party of those troops, by firing with small arms, in the most wanton, cruel and cowardly manner, upon a number of unarmed inhabitants of said town, whereby four of his Majesty's liege subjects have lost their lives, two others are supposed to be mortally wounded, & several besides badly wounded and suffering great pain and distress...We therefore truly sympathize with our distressed brethren the inhabitants of said town of Boston, heartily unite with them, in praying your honor would exert your authority to remove all the troops out of that town immediately..." Hutchinson's immediate reply, also dated March 8th: "I have no Authority to order the King's Troops from any Place where they are posted by his Majesty's Order..."

    (2) First page. A resolution passed at the March 12, 1770 annual meeting of the Town of Cambridge supporting the "Non-importation Agreements" of the Boston merchants, referring to the "unconstitutional Acts of Parliament for raising a revenue from the Colonies without their Consent: For the inforcing the Collection of which a large Body of Troops has been quartered upon the town of Boston; by some of whom many of the Inhabitants of this Province, from Time to Time, have been grossly assaulted, insulted and abused; and now at last some have been most barbarously and inhumanely murdered..."

    (3) Second page. Dated Boston, March 12, 1770, from "the Committee of the Town" of Boston, a lengthy letter "to divers Gentlemen of the first Distinction in London," including Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, who supported the colonists and, in 1778, initiated the debate in Parliament calling for the removal of the troops from America. Printer Samuel Hall does not list the names of the letter's recipients or of the committee members, most probably to protect them from reprisals. The Committee members signing the letter were John Hancock, William Phillips, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, William Molineux, Samuel Pemberton, and Joshua Henshaw. In part, "On Friday the Second Inst. a Quarrel arose between some of the Soldiers of the XXIXth, and the Ropemakers Journeymen and Apprentices...This contentious Disposition continued until the Monday Evening following, when a Party of seven or eight Soldiers, detached from the Main Guard under the Command of Capt. Preston, and by his Orders fired upon the Inhabitants promiscuously in King street, without the least warning of their Intention, and killed three on the spot, another has since died of his wounds, and others are dangerously not to say mortally wounded; Capt. Preston and his Party now are in Goal. An Enquiry is now making into this bloody Affair; and by some of the Evidence there is Reason to apprehend that the Soldiers have been made use of by others as Instruments in executing a settled Plot to Massacre the inhabitants..."

    (4) Third page. Boston, March 15. "The following Votes passed at the last Town Meeting: Voted, That the Thanks of this Town be given to the Town of Roxbury for their kind interposition and Assistance in our Distress; particularly by their Petition to the Lieutenant-Governor on our Behalf, Also, Voted, That the Thanks of the Town be given to the Towns of Cambridge, Charlestown, Watertown, and to all our Brethren in the Towns through the Province for the kind Concern they manifested for us in the late horrid Massacre by the Soldiery...A Committee was appointed to obtain a particular Account of all the Proceedings relative to the late Massacre in King-Street..."

    (5) Third page. Boston, March 19. "A Committee of the Town are proceeding in a legal Way to take the Testimonies of great Numbers respecting what preceeded, as also what is relative to the late horrid Massacre---Plenty of Evidence will prove the Soldiery to have been wholly the Aggressors, and that the Inhabitants have been treated by them with an unexampled Barbarity----A Number of Evidences are taken to prove a Firing from the Custom-House at the Time of the Massacre..."

    (6) Third page. "Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman in Boston, to his Friend in the Country..." In part, "To trace the massacre of the 5th instant no further back than the preceeding week...wou'd be stopping far short of the real source of the matter. Abundant evidence appears to warrant a very opposite conclusion!...To be serious in the enquiry, whether the outrages perpetuated by an ignorant and misinstructed soldiery originated from the provocation of a vulgar expression or stroke of a snow ball, would be solemn trifling indeed!...The accounts in this Paper and the Boston Gazette are as authentic as could be collected; the inquiry is still continuing, and new matter turns up every day, of which, when completed, a digest will be published...The honourable John Robinson, Esq; sailed the 16th for London (it is said) with a number of depositions, to manifest that the cause of the massacre was the defence of the treasure of the custom-house, from the inhabitants, whose design the deponents verily believe was to break in and plunder it..."

    The name "Mr. Edward Lang" has been boldly penned at the top left edge of the first page. This may be silversmith Edward Lang (1742-1830) who had a shop in Salem from 1768-1793 when he became a schoolmaster. Printer Samuel Hall (1740-1807) later published the New England Gazette, the Salem Gazette, and the Massachusetts Gazette. The newspaper is age-toned with light spotting and foxing. Although 238-years-old, it was printed on rag content, laid paper and is in near fine condition.


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