After explaining what primary and secondary sources are, I show students how to read and follow these sources. This means keeping an open mind and allowing the evidence in front of you to guide your conclusions.
I give students the following instructions:
You’ve arrived at the scene after the events of March 5, 1770, which came to be known as the Boston Massacre. Here are the facts you are sure of:
- A fire alarm was sounded, leading men and boys to grab leather fire buckets and try to help.
- Several grenadiers, British soldiers trained in throwing grenades, were present along with their Captain Thomas Preston.
- The soldiers had come to help the British sentinel guarding the Boston Customs House.
- Four victims were dead of gunshot wounds and a fifth was lingering but in fatal condition. Six others were wounded.
- One of the deceased was the runaway slave, Crispus Attucks.
More than 90 people witnessed what came to be known as the Boston Massacre.
During the soldiers’ trial, many of these eyewitnesses testified as to what they saw.
Use the selection of their eyewitness accounts as reported to the trial court on your handout to answer the questions on the slide.