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Unit 6: American Revolution

Essential Question: How did the Paul Revere's image, "The Bloody Massacre", influence the people of Boston in 1770?

Topic Questions: Based on our understanding of the difference between a "massacre" and a "riot", was the Boston Massacre truly a massacre at all?

Task #1: Persuasive Essay - "Boston Massacre or Boston Riot"

Here are three examples of events in history. First, read the definitions. Then, read the details of the events. Based on the definitions, decide for yourself if the event was a riot or a massacre.


The Boston Bread Riots - 1710 - 1713

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Was this a riot or a massacre?

The Moscow Salt Riots - 1648


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Riot Check List.png

Was this a riot or a massacre?

The Mystic Massacre - May 26. 1637

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The Mystic Massacre took place on May 26, 1637, during the Pequot War, when English settlers under Captain John Mason, and Narragansett and Mohegan allies set fire to a fortified Pequot village near the Mystic River. They shot any people who tried to escape the wooden palisade fortress and killed the entire village, consisting mostly of women and children, in retaliation for previous Pequot attacks. The only Pequot survivors were warriors who had been with theirsachem Sassacus in a raiding party outside the village.x
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You Decide: Was this a riot or a massacre?

The Boston Massacre - March 5, 1770

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  • On March 5, 1770, a large group of men gathered on King Street in Boston.
  • They were upset because they had lost their jobs to the new British soldiers who had just arrived.
  • There were more than 100 colonist men, milling around.
  • The colonists did not have guns but carried clubs.
  • Eight British soldiers were sent to control the mob.
  • They were ordered not to shoot.
  • One colonist yelled at a British soldier, insulting him.
  • The British soldier hit the colonist, Edward Garrett, in the face with the butt of his gun.
  • A colonist hit a British private in the face with a club.
  • Fighting started and one of the British soldiers fired his weapon into the crowd.
  • Crispus Attruck, an African American sailor, was killed instantly.
  • More shots were fired and four more colonists were killed.
  • The mob finally left King Street, carrying the injured with them.

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Was this a riot or a massacre?


  1. Read the Persuasive Essay Rubric.

  2. Write a five paragraph persuasive essay entitled "Boston Massacre or Boston Riot".

  3. Write an introductory paragraph that states your position.

  4. Write three paragraphs giving supporting evidence of your position.

  5. Write a conclusion that restates your position.

  6. Check your draft against the rubric before writing your final copy.

Click on the image to zoom in on the rubric.

Persuasive Essay Rubric

Student Handouts