Tuesday December 01, 2015
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03-064 Americas Revolution: The Boston Massacre I

Tuesday Dec 01, 2015

Lead: The so called Boston Massacre helped push Americans toward independence.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: It is hard to believe but as late as 1770 most people living in the colonies of North America were no more than loyal subjects of the British Crown. Except for a few radicals, most Americans considered themselves ordinary, faithful Englishmen who just happened to live 3000 miles to the west of the Irish Sea. Within just six short years a congress of the colonies had declared independence and was raising an army to banish the rule of King George III from the colonies forever. What was behind such a change?

Britain's first North American colonies were started as private investments: the companies of Virginia in 1607 and Massachusetts in 1620 were followed by the proprietary colony of Carolina in 1670. The puritans who settled Massachusetts were there to make money but also, especially in the 1630s, to establish a place of refuge from what they considered to be religious persecution by the English government. During the first hundred years, for the most part, England left these colonies alone. Colonies were expensive and the mother country was distracted by civil war, revolution, and conflict on the continent of Europe. During this time the colonies got used to taking care of most of their own affairs. The distance was too great and communication was too slow.

All this began to change around 1754. A skirmish on the Pennsylvania frontier between the French and their Native American allies and a detachment of the Virginia militia led by twenty-two year old George Washington began the conflict which escalated in 1756 into the Seven Year's War. England won that war but at a crushing price. By 1763 the national debt was 123 million pounds, much of it expended to protect the North American colonies and take Canada from the French. The English people were being squeezed dry to pay for the war and the government of George III thought it reasonable to tax the colonies for their own defense. It turned out to be a very bad idea.

Next time: The Boston Massacre.

At the University of Richmondís School of Professional and Continuing Studies, Iím Dan Roberts.


Wemms, William, The Trial of the British Soldiers, of the 29th Regiment of Foot for the Murder of Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, and Patrick Carr, on Monday Evening, March 5, 1770...... Boston: Blecher and Amstrong, 1807; reprinted, Miami, Florida: Mnemosyne Publishing, Inc., 1969.]

Zobel, Hiller B. The Boston Massacre. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1970.

Copyright 2015 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.


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