Episode 228: Eric Hinderaker, The Boston Massacre


On the evening of March 5, 1770, a crowd gathered in Boston’s King Street and confronted a sentry and his fellow soldiers in front of the custom house. The confrontation led the soldiers to fire their muskets into the crowd, five civilians died.

What happened on the night of March 5, 1770 that led the crowd to gather and the soldiers to discharge their weapons?

Eric Hinderaker, a distinguished professor of history at the University of Utah and the author of Boston’s Massacre, assists our quest to discover more about the Boston Massacre.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Eric Hinderaker, a distinguished professor of History at the University of Utah and the author of Boston’s Massacre, leads our investigation of the Boston Massacre.

During our conversation, Eric reveals what the Boston Massacre was, when it took place, and what we know about its participants; Colonial and imperial reactions to the Massacre; And, the ways both Bostonians and British officials used the Massacre to further their causes.

What You’ll Discover

  • Overview of the Boston Massacre
  • Participants in the Boston Massacre
  • How many times the soldiers discharged their weapons
  • Problems with eyewitness testimony
  • Bostonians’ reactions to the shootings on King Street
  • Why Boston sent a pamphlet relating the shootings on King Street to London
  • British response to the shooting in King Street
  • Boston by 1770
  • Political structure of Boston
  • Boston’s reputation as a “mob” or “riot” town
  • The arrival of British soldiers in Boston
  • Boston under military occupation
  • What having soldiers garrisoned in Boston meant for the town and its people
  • The soldiers’ training
  • Town, colonial, and imperial officials’ response to the shootings on King Street
  • The soldiers’ trials
  • John Adams’ work as a defense attorney for the soldiers
  • Bostonians’ reaction to the outcome of the soldiers’ trial
  • Bostonians’ use of the Boston Massacre in the years following the event
  • Long-term legacy of the Boston Massacre


Links to People, Places, and Publications

Sponsor Links

Complementary Episodes


Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if Captain Preston, or any of his men, had been found guilty of murder? How would the course of the American Revolution have been different?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

Do you have a question, comment, or suggestion?

Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.



Enjoy the Podcast?

Why Not Subscribe?

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Google Podcasts | Listen to Stitcher

Ratings & Reviews

If you enjoy this podcast, please give it a rating and review.

Positive ratings and reviews help bring Ben Franklin's World to the attention of other history lovers who may not be aware of our show

Click here to rate & review on iTunes | Click here to rate & review on Stitcher

More from this show