The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author - Vol. 1

By John Adams; Charles Francis Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
THE BOSTON MASSACRE. -- DEFENCE OF THE SOLDIERS -- RELATIONS TO THE PATRIOTS DOWN TO JUNE, 1774.

COULD any person, gifted with adequate powers of sense, though with not more than ordinary intelligence, have been lifted, on the evening of the 5th of March, to a point above the earth high enough to take in at a glance events occurring at places widely distant from each other in the British empire, he would have been at no loss to comprehend the causes which were so soon to effect a disruption of its parts. Such a position, denied to contemporaries, always too near the scene to measure exactly the relations of things, is supplied to their successors, who, if they do not look down, can at least look back, and calmly survey at the same moment all the parts of the picture of the past which the recorded testimony of actors and witnesses has combined to paint for them. The incidents of that night were of momentous importance to the nations of both hemispheres. "On that night," said Mr. Adams, many years afterwards, "the foundation of American independence was laid."1 Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the foundation already laid then first began to rise to the sight. However this may be, the consequences to Mr. Adams himself were decisive. On both sides of the Atlantic, within the same hour, occurrences were taking place, which conspired to fix him in the career he was destined afterwards to pursue. It was the moment, in London, of the appearance of a new prime minister to explain to the Parliament and to the nation his ideas of an American policy. It was the moment in the little town of Boston, one of the most remote of British dependencies, of an exposition, on the part of America, of the effects produced

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1
Vol. viii. p. 384.

-90-

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