American Revolution
The Boston Massacre

The Boston Massacre
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.81

     challenging words:    volatile, persuasive, housing, fuse, unpleasant, manslaughter, self-defense, particularly, attorney, domain, fairly, better, speaker, presence, jury, boiling
     content words:    John Adams

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The Boston Massacre
By Jane Runyon

1     In the early to mid 1700's British law was the only law in the colonies. The governor of each colony was appointed by the king himself. The royal governor made the rules for the colony but only with the approval of the king. To make sure that the rules were followed, the king sent British soldiers to be stationed in the larger colonial cities. The king said that the soldiers were there for the protection of the colonists, but most of the colonists realized that the presence of the soldiers was meant to keep them from disobeying the king as well. In 1765, Parliament passed a law stating that the colonists were to make housing available to the soldiers. Cities like Boston built rough encampments for the British troops. In some cases, the soldiers simply moved into the homes of the colonists. The colonists were not particularly happy with the presence of the troops because of this. They would direct deliberate digs at the soldiers calling them "Lobsterbacks." This name referred to the color of the soldiers' coats in comparison to the color a lobster turns when placed in boiling water.
2     The British soldiers were not happy about their assignment in the new world, either. They were thousands of miles away from their homes and families. The pay they received from the British government was not particularly good. Most of the money they earned stayed in England to support their families. In order to have a little spending money of their own, the soldiers hired themselves out to do any kind of work they could find. The colonists wanted the better jobs for themselves, so the jobs they could find were usually very unpleasant in nature. Cleaning stables and burying garbage might be the only way to see a few extra pence.
3     One very cold evening in March of 1770, a British soldier looking for work happened to stop in a public house in Boston. A group of colonial men had been in the pub drinking hard cider for quite some time. They had been complaining to each other about the presence of the British soldiers and how many of the jobs they needed were being taken by the soldiers who were willing to work for less money. Hard feelings were growing, and tempers were beginning to flare. Seeing the lone British soldier enter their domain was enough to light the fuse on a volatile situation that evening.

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