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The Boston Massacre - DOC


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									                  The Boston Massacre: Self-Defense or Murder?

         Five civilians died on March 5, 1770 when British soldiers fired on American
civilians in Boston, Massachusetts. Depending on who you listen to, this event was
either an act of self-defense or murder.
         In a trial that happened after the incident, the British soldiers involved were
found not guilty of murder. John Adams, the man who would later become the second
president of the United States, defended the British soldiers masterfully. He didn’t use
the evidence to prove that the British soldiers were innocent. Instead, he used all of the
various eyewitnesses to create a story so complex and confusing that no one really
knew for sure what happened. In all that confusion, it couldn’t be proven that the British
soldiers were murderers, so they went free.
         John Adams’ legal defense of the soldiers helped keep the Boston Massacre
controversial. It happened 250 years ago, and historians still can’t agree if it was murder
or self-defense. You are going to look through the testimony of eyewitnesses and
participants which was presented at that trial to determine whether the incident should
be considered an act of self-defense or whether it was an act of murder deserving the
title of “The Boston Massacre.”

                                                                  What is “self defense”?
  Killing or causing bodily harm to someone is not considered a serious crime if you cause that
harm through self-defense. If you are yourself threatened with bodily harm, it is acceptable to
use force to defend yourself. Self-defense usually follows these criteria, as defined by
     You are being threatened with extreme bodily harm, which usually means that the
         person you act against has something he could potentially kill you with.
     You don’t act first, but in response to this threat.
       You don’t have any realistic way to escape or flee from this threat. This means having
        your back against the wall, either literally or figuratively.

                                                                        What is “murder”?
  Murder is much more serious than self-defense, and has huge punishments attached to it.
Murderers are usually imprisoned for life or can be executed for their crimes. A murder has
been committed if it follows these criteria, according to USLegal.com:
    The person was unlawfully killed, meaning it was not in self-defense. This means that
       the person who is killed was never a serious threat to the killer.
    The killer deliberately and intentionally tried to cause extreme bodily harm to his victim.
       This could mean deliberately - not accidentally - driving his car towards the victim, or
       deliberately - not accidentally - pointing a gun at the victim.
    The killing was premeditated, meaning that the killer planned to kill his victim. The
       amount of planning varies depending on the person, and can range from minutes to

                                                             So what do we have to do?
   Now that you know the difference between self-defense and murder, you’re going to
examine the witness testimony from the trial of the British soldiers after the “Boston Massacre.”
You’re going to look for clues as to whether what happened was self-defense or murder. Then
you’re going to write a persuasive essay publishing your findings.
   You are going to choose three eyewitnesses who present evidence that will help prove that
the event was an act of self-defense or an act of murder. You’re going to explain what part from
their testimony agrees with your view of the event, and why. Important point: do NOT make up
your mind before reading the witness statements. Read all the way through the witness
statements before you make up your mind on whether it was self-defense or murder, then
build your case accordingly.
   Before you start, know this: There is no right or wrong answer for this assignment. You are
acting as a detective or a lawyer, using evidence to build you case for self-defense or murder.
Therefore, you should not feel like you’re not doing the assignment right if your answer differs
from the people around you. This event happened 250 years ago, and people have been
disagreeing about it ever since.
   You can find all the eyewitness statements from the trial in the file labeled “Testimony from
Boston Massacre Trial.” I’ve copied down the testimony from 27 different witnesses from the
trial. You are to pick the three people whose testimony best proves your view of the event.

            You are going to follow these steps to complete this assignment:
    1. Read through the entire set of instructions before proceeding on.
    2. Read through the entire set of witness statements from the trial.
    3. Decide in your mind whether you think it was an act of murder or an act of self-defense.
       You do not get to pick “Both” as your answer. A jury can’t decide whether an act was
       kind of murder and kind of self-defense, it picks one or the other, and so must you.
    4. Read through the set of witness statements again, and find the three witnesses who you
       think best prove that the event was an example of self-defense or murder.
    5. For each of the three witnesses, fill out a witness statement sheet.
    6. Using those witness statement sheets, compose a 5-paragraph persuasive essay based
       on the instructions posted below.
    7. Save your completed assignment with this format: first initial, last name, and
       “massacre.”So, for example, mine would be labeled dkeltnermassacre.
    8. Email your completed assignment to my school address, which is
    9. You’ll do that by clicking on the “Share” button up and to the right. When the “Sharing
        settings” window pops up, add my email address into the space labeled “Add people.”
        Make sure that the option says “Can Edit” so that I’ll be able to comment on your essay.
    10. Complete this assignment and email it to me by Monday, November 15th. This
        assignment will represent your final assignment of the chapter, both for 8th Social
        Studies and History Lab. So this will count for 30 points for each of your classes.

                                                Instructions for the 5-paragraph essay
        The first paragraph will be your introduction paragraph. In your first paragraph, you
need to accomplish all of the following, using complete sentences.
    1. First, state whether you think the “Boston Massacre” was an example of murder or an
        example of self-defense.
    2. Second, explain briefly why you think the event was an example of self-defense or
        murder. Use the criteria for self-defense or murder to accomplish this.
            a. For example: The “Boston Massacre” was an example of self-defense because
                 the British soldiers were threatened with extreme bodily harm, they acted in
                 response to that threat, and they didn’t have chance to escape from this threat.
            b. For example: The “Boston Massacre” was an example of murder because the
                 Americans were never a serious threat to the British soldiers, the British soldiers
                 planned to kill or seriously wound the American victims, and the act was planned
                 by British soldiers.
        Third, tell me which three witnesses you’re going to use to prove that this event was an
act of murder or an act of self-defense.

  The second, third, and fourth paragraphs are the body paragraphs. Each paragraph will deal
with a separate person, but each of the three paragraphs will follow the following format.
    1. First, state the name of the person that you are going to use.
            a. For example: One witness whose testimony proves the event was an act of self-
                 defense was Dustin Keltner.
            b. For example: One witness whose testimony proves the event was an act of
                 murder was Dustin Keltner.
        Second, quote the part from that person’s testimony that provides proof that the act
was self-defense or murder.
    . For example: Dustin Keltner said, in his testimony, “Blah blah blah.”
        Finally, explain which of the criteria for self-defense or murder this testimony fits in
    . For example: This testimony suggests it was self-defense because the soldier acted in
        response to a threat of extreme bodily harm.
            a. For example: This testimony suggest it was murder because the soldier intended
                 to kill or seriously wound his victim.
      The fifth paragraph is your conclusion paragraph. In this paragraph, you’re going to wrap up
    your case. In this paragraph, you need to accomplish all of the following, using complete
        1. First, give the definition of self-defense or murder. Briefly state the criteria that makes
            an act self-defense or murder.
        2. Second, explain which of the criteria your witness statements fall under. There will be
            three sentences for this part, since you must write one for each of your witnesses.
                 a. For example: Dustin Keltner’s testimony proves that the British soldiers acted in
                     response to a serious threat.
            Finally, make the conclusion on whether the event was self-defense or murder.
.   For example: Based on all the witness testimony I have discussed above, I believe it is clear that
    the Boston Massacre was an example of murder.

                                                                      How will this be graded?
      This paper will be worth 30 points each for 8th Grade Social Studies and for History Lab. It will
    be graded according to the following rubric.

                        6 - Excellent         4 - Adequate        2 - Inadequate      0 - Non-existent

    Sources           All three sources    Two of three          One of three         None of the
                      used for quotes      sources used for      sources used for     sources was
                      and facts are        quotes and facts      quotes and facts     credible or used
                      credible and         are credible and      are credible and     correctly.
                      used correctly.      used correctly.       used correctly.

    Evidence and      All of the           Most of the           At least one of      Evidence and
    examples          evidence and         evidence and          the pieces of        examples are
                      examples are         examples are          evidence and         NOT relevant
                      specific, relevant   specific, relevant    examples is          AND/OR are not
                      and explanations     and explanations      relevant and has     explained.
                      are given that       are given that        an explanation
                      show how each        show how each         that shows how
                      piece of evidence    piece of evidence     that piece of
                      supports the         supports the          evidence
                      author's position.   author's position.    supports the
                                                                 author's position.

    Capitalization    Author makes no      Author makes a        Author makes         Author makes a
    and               errors in            few errors in         several errors in    large number of
    punctuation       capitalization or    capitalization        capitalization       errors in
                      punctuation, so      and/or                and/or               capitalization
                      the essay is         punctuation that      punctuation that     and/or
                      exceptionally        catch the             catch the            punctuation
                      easy to read.        reader's              reader's             that makes the
                                  attention and      attention and      essay very
                                  interrupt the      interrupt the      difficult to read.
                                  flow.              flow.

Sentence      All sentences are   Most sentences     Most sentences     Most sentences
structure     well-constructed    are well-          are well           are not well-
              with varied         constructed and    constructed, but   constructed or
              structure.          there is some      there is no        varied.
                                  varied sentence    variation is
                                  structure in the   structure.

Grammar and   Author makes no     Author makes 1-    Author makes 3-    Author makes
spelling      errors in           2 errors in        4 errors in        more than 4
              grammar or          grammar or         grammar or         errors in
              spelling that       spelling that      spelling that      grammar or
              distract the        distract the       distract the       spelling that
              reader from the     reader from the    reader from the    distract the
              content.            content.           content.           reader from the

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