Quotations – the Boston Massacre

This page contains a collection of American Revolution quotations from revolutionary leaders, contemporary figures and prominent historians, pertaining to the presence of British soldiers in America. These quotations have been gathered and compiled by Alpha History authors. We are adding new quotations to this page in October-December 2015. If you would like to contribute an interesting or useful quotation, please contact Alpha History.

“Several country towns, within my observation, have at least a dozen taverns. Here the time, the money, the health and the modesty, of most that are young and of many old, are wasted. Here diseases, vicious habits, bastards and legislators are frequently spawned.”
John Adams on colonial American taverns

“The madness of mobs or the insolence of soldiers, or both, when too near to each other, occasion some mischief.”
Benjamin Franklin, 1768

“By the eternal God, I will make it too hot for some of you before tonight.”
Ebenezer Richardson to the mob outside his home, February 1770

“We are fallen into the most unhappy times,when even innocence itself is nowhere safe!”
Boston Gazette, February 1770

“All the friends of Liberty may have an opportunity of paying their last respects to the remains of this little hero and first martyr to the noble cause, whose manly spirit after the accident happened appeared in his discreet answers to his doctor, his thanks to the clergyman who prayed with him, and the firmness of mind he showed when he first saw his parents… These things, together with several heroic pieces found in his pocket, particularly Wolfe’s Summit of Human Glory, give reason to think he had a martial genius and would have made a clever man.”
A report on the death of Christopher Seider, February 1770

“My eyes never beheld such a funeral. The procession extended further than can be imagined. This shows there are many more lives to spend, if wanted, in the service of their country. It shows… that the ardour of the people is not to be quelled by the slaughter of one child.”
John Adams on the funeral of Christopher Seider, February 1770

“For God’s sake, take care of your men. If they fire, they die!”
Henry Knox to Captain Preston during the Boston Massacre

“They stood with their pieces before them to defend themselves. A party, about 12 in number with sticks in their hands, who stood in the middle of the street gave three cheers and immediately surrounded the soldiers and struck upon their guns with their sticks and passed along the front of the soldiers toward Royal Exchange Lane striking soldiers’ guns as they passed. Numbers were continually coming down the street.”
An eyewitness to the Boston Massacre

“[If the British troops were not withdrawn] it is a moral certainty that the people of this town would have taken to their arms… and it is most probable the confusion would have continued until the troops were overpowered.”
Thomas Hutchinson’s report to London, 1770

“On that night the formation of American independence was laid… Not the battle of Lexington or Bunker Hill, not the surrender of Burgoyne or Cornwallis were more important events in American history than the battle of King Street on March 5th 1770.”
John Adams on the Boston Massacre

“From that moment we may date the severance of the British Empire.”
Daniel Webster on the Boston Massacre

“Let this sad tale of death never be told without a tear: let every parent tell the shameful story to his listening children, till tears of pity glisten in their eyes, or boiling passion shakes their tender frames.”
John Hancock on the Boston Massacre

“Has the grim savage rushed again from the wilderness? Or does some fiend… twang her deadly arrows at our breast? No, none of these: it is the hand of Britain that inflicts the wound.”
Joseph Warren on the Boston Massacre