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The Boston Massacre

British troops came to Boston to guard against violence. Boston reacted with a boycott of British goods so the British moved all shipping to Salem. This resulted in an economic downturn and less tax money available TO PAY THE TROOPS. To make ends meet, British soldiers are taking odd jobs in town. This has led to a close intermingling of the guards with the Boston citizens, especially in taverns. Fights break out regularly and those incidents are scandalized in the newspapers. Recently, an 11-year-old-boy was killed by a customs official, so Boston is in an uproar when a young apprentice named Edward Garrick tries to collect an overdue bill at the customs office. After an exchange of insults, Private Hugh White leaves his guard post and strikes Edward on the head for his insolence. Henry Knox, a bookseller and future General of the Revolution, reminds White that if he kills the boy it means a murder charge. A mob forms so Captain Preston reinforces White with armed troops. The Captain has no intention of ordering his men to fire, but someone hits Private Montgomery with a rock, causing him to drop his musket. He picks it up, shouts at the mob and fires. Someone swings a club at Captain Preston. In a few quick seconds, four protestors lie dead in the street. Many others are wounded and some will die later. Captain Preston and his men are arrested for murder and Boston is crying for their blood! [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The newspapers really stirred up the crowd, urged on by Samuel Adams and his buddy, John Hancock. Samuel's 2nd cousin, John Adams, was a lawyer and a good one. (He later became President of the United States.) John defended the British troops at trial. Captain Preston was acquitted since he never gave the order to fire and he had been standing IN FRONT OF THE MUSKETS at the time of the incident. Two of his men were convicted of manslaughter. The jury felt that the soldiers were sufficiently threatened that it wasn't murder. (For the modern equivalent, see the Kent State Massacre of 1970 where the National Guard fired 67 shots into a crowd of unarmed college students. Afterward the criminal charges against the Guard were dropped.) While Captain Preston's trial was on the up-and-up, the Boston Massacre became a rallying cry for the abuses of British rule and misgovernment. As with all propaganda, the first casualty is the truth. Samuel Adams and others made the Boston Massacre sound like genocide. [4]

The Ferguson Rifle, a Radical New Method for Mayhem

A rifle took ten minutes to load... until now. Major Patrick Ferguson has reworked an earlier design so that his new BREECH LOADING rifle can load and fire 6 times a minute! It is faster than a smooth-bore musket which can fire 2 times a minute and it is more accurate due to the rifling of the bore. One can also load it from a semi-prone position. Ferguson won't be issued a patent until 1776 when the British Army will order 100 rifles in order to put down the American Revolution. (FYI... it was just an experiment. It didn't help.) [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
So... why didn't the British adopt this new super-weapon immediately? There were three reason why not. First, the military didn't like radical leaps forward. They liked incremental improvements. Secondly, the rifle required careful machine work so the maximum number of rifles that Great Britain could have produced at the time was 1,000 per year, maximum. And third... Major Ferguson died before the rifle gained acceptance. He was the first and best advocate for the rifle that bears his name. When he died, the rifle died with him... and that was probably a good thing for the American Revolution. [7]

I Know! Let's Call It Rubber!

"Rubber" gets its name when the scientist, Joseph Priestley, realizes that the bouncy material can "rub off" pencil marks. Scientists have been looking for ways to use rubber other than as a ball. (How about as a HOSE!) Rubber has been a novelty item since the Middle Ages when it was introduced to Europe by the Aztecs. Joseph Priestley is the same guy who discovered oxygen, and he made his name when he invented carbonated beverages. [8] [9] [10]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1770, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 356-357. 
  2. Boston Massacre - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 April 2016. “A thrown object then struck Private Montgomery, knocking him down and causing him to drop his musket. He recovered his weapon, and was thought to angrily shout 'Damn you, fire!', then discharged it into the crowd although no command was given. Palmes swung his cudgel first at Montgomery, hitting his arm, and then at Preston. He narrowly missed Preston's head, striking him on the arm instead.”
  3. Borneman, Walter R.. American Spring:, American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, Little, Brown and Company. “As the crowd surged forward, more shots--perhaps as many as a dozen or more--rang out before Captain Preston got control of his troops. But it was too late. Four Bostonians lay dead, and several others were badly wounded, one of whom died early the next morning. For Boston, what locals would call the Boston Massacre immediately became that generation's Kent State shooting.” 
  4. Kent State shootings - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 April 2016. “The Kent State shootings (also known as the May 4 massacre or the Kent State massacre) occurred at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, in the United States and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.”
  5. Ferguson rifle - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 21 January 2016. “The action was adapted from the earlier 1720 Isaac de la Chaumette design by Major Patrick Ferguson (1744–1780), who redesigned it around 1770. He received an English patent in December of 1776 (number 1139) on details of the design.”
  6. Ferguson Breechloading Flintlock (Demonstration 1 min 30 sec into video). YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 20 April 2016. “The major innovation of Ferguson's was to machine his breech threads so that a single revolution of the breech would open it enough to reload (instead of requiring multiple revolutions). A rate of fire of 6 shots per minute or better was easily possible for a well-drilled shooter, and this from a weapon with the accuracy of a rifle.”
  7. Ferguson Rifle, "This Barbarous Weapon". The 11th Pennsylvania Regiment (2013). Retrieved on 20 April 2016. “During the Revolutionary War Ferguson commanded the only British soldiers using his patented rifle. Four years after his demonstration, he died with his men in one of the war's strangest battles.”
  8. Morton, Maurice. Rubber Technology. Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 0442255659. “The English chemist, Priestley, gave the name "rubber" to the raw material in 1770, when he found it would "rub off pencil marks. Ironically, in so doing, he may have unawaredly become the first one to add carbon black to rubber.” 
  9. Natural rubber - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 15 April 2016. “In England, Joseph Priestley, in 1770, observed that a piece of the material was extremely good for rubbing off pencil marks on paper, hence the name 'rubber'. Later, it slowly made its way around England.”
  10. Joseph Priestley - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 April 2016. “During his lifetime, Priestley's considerable scientific reputation rested on his invention of soda water, his writings on electricity, and his discovery of several 'airs' (gases), the most famous being what Priestley dubbed 'dephlogisticated air' (oxygen).”

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