United States History

Massacre or Riot? Boston Massacre Mini-Mock Trial


        The blood of patriots runs through the streets of Boston, and the Redcoats are to blame!  ...Or are they?  You will be divided into groups of Sons of Liberty and Bostonians, British Soldiers, and John Adams in order to debate the following issues:

     ❖     What really happened on that fateful night of March 5th, 1770?

     ❖     What issues led to the violence of the Boston Massacre?

     ❖     How is the mob in Boston reacting to the presense of British troops and to

               the recent violence and problems with the government?

     ❖     Should the British Redcoats be convicted for murder?


     ❖    Captain Thomas Preston and eight other soldiers are charged with the  Murder of 5 Bostonians.



     Robert Treat Paine - Lawyer

     Samuel Quincy - Lawyer

     Samuel Adams - Witness, Son of Liberty

     Francis Archibald - Witness to earlier fight with soldiers

     James Brewer - Denies seeing anyone with sticks or hearing any threats to


     Benjamin Burdick - Testifies about soldiers aggressive behavior


     John Adams - Lawyer

     Josiah Quincy - Lawyer

     Captain Thomas Preston - Testifies against the actions of the riotous crowd

     Henry Knox - Testifies to an armed and dangerous crowd

     Newton Prince - Testifies to an armed and dangerous crowd

     Patrick Keeton - Describes an armed and dangerous Crispus Attucks


     1.      Familiarize yourself with the links listed below.  Then write answers to the questions on the activity worksheet given to you in class (or you can download the worksheet here).

     2.      Prepare for the courtroom debate based upon your assigned role in the trial.  Then turn in your work at the end of the trial.

     •      Web Links:

     •      Boston Massacre Multiple Perspectives (Trial Evidence, just read the testimonies, you do not need to answer the questions in this packet)

        • Boston Massacre Facts

        • Trial Witness Cards (summary of what witnesses actually said)

        • The Boston Massacre Trials

        • The British Perspective

Trial Written Work/Preparation:


          1. Read through the links and fill out the activity worksheet (linked above)

          2. Prepare a testimony to present at the trial.  You are welcome to bring

               visual aids as evidence, and you will receive extra credit if you dress the



          1. Read through the links and fill out the activity worksheet (linked above)

          2. Take notes during the trial about what each witness testifies, the evidence

          presented, and the arguments made.

          3. TYPE a summary of the trial proceedings, then write what the verdict was

          for the defendents and why SPECIFICALLY you felt that this verdict was