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Coming of the American Revolution: Document Viewer
Massachusetts Historical Society
America's oldest historical society, founded 1791.

Back to The Boston Massacre

"Case of Capt. Thomas Preston of the 29th Regiment."

Case of Capt. Thomas Preston of the 29th Regiment.

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Preston Speaks Out
The alleged offenders are imprisoned as Boston ceremoniously buries its dead. Languishing in the town's dirty, crowded jail, Captain Thomas Preston knows that citizens are blaming him for his soldiers' actions. Hoping to gain support in England (and perhaps secure a pardon from the king), Preston prepares his own account of the events in King Street, the "Case of Capt. Thomas Preston," which is spirited to London and published in the Public Advertiser in April 1770. By mid-June, the London newspapers make their way across the ocean to Boston, and printers begin republishing the narrative in local newspapers. Eagerly read, the account reignites Bostonians' passions.

To examine both pages of this newspaper, please see the online display of the Supplement to the Boston Evening Post, 25 June 1770.

Questions to Consider

1. According to Preston, why did townspeople gather at the Customs House on the evening of 5 March 1770?

2. How does Thomas Preston describe the behavior of Bostonians and their actions toward his soldiers?

Further Exploration

3. Compare Thomas Preston's account of 5 March with accounts published in the newspaper or in pamphlets. What is the same? What is different?