Fire! The Inside Story of the Boston Massacre with Dr. Richard Bell

Fire! The Inside Story of the Boston Massacre with Dr. Richard Bell


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.

By March 1770, the people of Boston had lived almost a year and a half under British military occupation. Tensions, resentments, and open threats of violence issued by both civilians and soldiers had long since become a fact of life. The town was a powderkeg—and on Monday, March 5, it exploded. This conversation will explore this moment in history, analyzing the Boston Massacre from an array of sides.

Around 8 pm, a sentry posted outside the Town Hall on King Street challenged a young wig maker's apprentice over an unpaid bill. The humiliated apprentice called in reinforcements and soon the sentry was being pelted by stones and snowballs thrown by the 100 townspeople now surrounding him. Then a squad of burly redcoat guardsmen arrived and in the chaos, someone yelled ‘Fire!’ Shots rang out. When the smoke from the soldiers’ muskets cleared, five local men lay dead and dying on the snowbound street.

Over the following days and weeks, soldiers and civilians tried to figure out what had happened. Just as importantly, they began trying to assign meaning to this tragic event, and to give it a name. The official British report called it an ‘unhappy disturbance,’ but Boston leaders took to calling it the ‘horrid massacre.’

In this seminar, historian Richard Bell explores the 1770 Boston Massacre from all its many sides. Drawing on the latest scholarship, Bell argues that the real history of the ‘affray on King Street’ is far more fascinating than even Paul Revere’s famous engraving of it has led us to believe.

Dr. Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He holds a PhD from Harvard University and has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship and the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar Award. Professor Bell is author of the new book "Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home," which was shortlisted for the George Washington Prize and the Harriet Tubman Prize.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
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Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
A Most Informative and Thought-provoking Look at this Historical Event

Dr. Bell related a succinct timeline of events that led up to the 'massacre' and how both the British soldiers and colonists contributed toward this unfortunate conflict. This explained more of the history to me, for sure. Their real lives were described. The triggers were explained and this gave me a greater understanding of the history. The discussion of the iconography of Paul Revere's famous engraving of the event was so surprising! I will never look at that depiction in the same light again! The additional discussion about Crispus Attucks was very interesting. Since I live near Boston and have walked by the Old State House many times (in front of which the marker memorializing the Boston Massacre is inlaid in the pavement), I particularly enjoyed this thorough history. I will recall this information whenever I walk in this Freedom Trail area in the future!

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
S
Sandra S -- Boston (Saugus, US)
A Most Informative and Thought-provoking Look at this Historical Event

Dr. Bell related a succinct timeline of events that led up to the 'massacre' and how both the British soldiers and colonists contributed toward this unfortunate conflict. This explained more of the history to me, for sure. Their real lives were described. The triggers were explained and this gave me a greater understanding of the history. The discussion of the iconography of Paul Revere's famous engraving of the event was so surprising! I will never look at that depiction in the same light again! The additional discussion about Crispus Attucks was very interesting. Since I live near Boston and have walked by the Old State House many times (in front of which the marker memorializing the Boston Massacre is inlaid in the pavement), I particularly enjoyed this thorough history. I will recall this information whenever I walk in this Freedom Trail area in the future!