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Notes on the Boston Massacre trials, by John Adams, 1770, "seemed to come from close before them..."

Notes on the Boston Massacre trials, by John Adams, 1770, `seemed to come from close before them...` Manuscript


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    • Main description

    [ This description is from the project: Boston Massacre ]

    These ten pages are some of John Adams's legal notes taken while he was working as the defense attorney for Rex v. Wemms et al, the trial of the eight British soldiers accused of the murder of Crispus Attucks and four other colonists. This grouping of pages lacks the first leaf, but the extant pages include John Adams's notes relating to witnesses for the Crown who testified on 27-28 November 1770. Included are Adams's notes relating to the testimony of seventeen witnesses, starting with James Dodge and continuing through the testimony of Benjamin Burdick. 

    John Adams kept numerous sets of legal notes during his career. The Massachusetts Historical Society has three sets of these notes from his work as a defense attorney during the Boston Massacre trials. The first set of notes is made up of eight pages relating to the trial of Captain Preston. The second set of notes (described above) consists of ten pages and includes testimony of witnesses for the Crown during the trial of the eight soldiers. The third set, also ten pages in length, contains Adams' notes on the testimony of the first twenty defense witnesses from Rex v. Wemms, the trial of the soldiers. Please note that the Boston Public Library's manuscript collection also has a set of Adams's legal notes which continues where MHS's second set leaves off, and includes the end of Burdick's testimony and that of six other witnesses.

    Transcriptions for all of Adams's trial notes are available via the Adams Papers Digital Editions in the Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 3. See also the description of Adams' Massacre Minutes from the same volume.