Our Inaugural Entry: The Boston Massacre

I cannot think of a better time for MediumHistorica’s inaugural blog than the day after the 230th anniversary of the Boston Massacre. We’re based in the beautiful area of Boston in the great State of Massachusetts so, naturally, this is an excellent event for us to analyze modern American interpretation.

The Old State House, Boston MAPreceding the Boston Tea Party by over three years, the Boston Massacre is what truly sewed the seeds of discontent in Yankee colonists with their overseas Saxon administrators. Five Bostonian civillians were shot to death at the hands of British soldiery in front of the, now-surrounded-by-mammoths-of-later-architecture, Old State House. News of the deaths spread quickly throughout the colonies and undermined Britain’s authority over colonial life.

Disparagingly enough, 2010’s anniversary failed to acknowledge the most important lesson from this event: the legal ramifications. In fact, contemporary America failed to give any brief mention or acknowledgement of it whatsoever: a Google search as of March 6th, 2010 yields no news events regarding the Boston Massacre.

The real significance of the Boston Massacre, though, was not oppression or indignity or rebellion or any of those key words that are often tied to historical watersheds. What was most important was how Massachusetts treated those British soldiers after the event.

American society conveniently forgets that our second President of the United States and Boston local, John Adams, then a mere lawyer, served as the primary defense of the British soldiers in the legal trial that followed. Remembering that MediumHistorica is a blog about interpretation and not instruction, I will save you the details, but know that Adams was successful in his defense after it was discovered that the colonists had preemptively harassed and attacked those soldiers.

We face a similar episode today in America, where treating our enemies with the respect that they might not afford us is important, and yet, extremely unpopular. Suspected terrorists receiving their Miranda Rights, rather than being treated as war criminals, is our Massacre trial today. Adams was by no means liked in the colonies for his precarious position, but his commitment to objectivity and blind justice is a historical “high road” that the United States can now look back on with pride. Is it important for these suspected terrorists be read such rights? Does doing so set a clear demarcation between why we are us, and they are them? I know it has become a bit of a cliché to ask this but, should we let our enemies compromise our values of equality, justice, and fairness, even when the pill is so bitter?

This is not a political blog, but interpreting history-and what about it is important-is almost always subjective. It is comforting to know that the values mentioned in this blog regarding John Adams & the Boston Massacre are not completely forgotten by mainstream society. America was a nation founded primarily on law, and its blindness to rank, status, sex, color, etc (it took us a while for those last couple). That concept alone inspired the modern world to be what it is today. America is by no means perfect and when we fail to follow our own example, perhaps it is best to look at our predecessors for guidance. Beware who you take rights away from and, more dramatically, who you open the eye of justice to. Once we compromise our blind adherence to justice and law, no one will be safe from our newly impassioned form of judgement.

-MH

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One Response

  1. Was an interesting article, thank you..

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