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Illustration by Shane Rebenschied; Ross Warner/Alamy Stock Photo (red coats)


The Road to Revolution

Two hundred and fifty years ago, trouble was brewing in Boston. It would forever change our country.

As You Read: Why did the colonists want independence?

On February 22, 1770, a cold wind whipped through north Boston, Massachusetts. But the bitter chill didn’t stop an angry mob from gathering. They yelled and hurled stones at a store selling British goods. Among the crowd was 11-year-old Christopher Seider.

A British official named Ebenezer Richardson lived near the shop. He tried to stop the protest. But the crowd turned on him, and he ran off into his house. Suddenly, a gunshot rang out. Richardson had fired his gun into the group. Christopher dropped to the ground, wounded. The boy died later that night.

Christopher’s death would spark a revolution.

A cold wind whipped through north Boston, Massachusetts. It was February 22, 1770. But the bitter chill didn’t stop an angry mob from gathering. They yelled and hurled stones at a store selling British goods. In the crowd was 11-year-old Christopher Seider.

A British official named Ebenezer Richardson lived near the shop. He tried to stop the protest. But the crowd turned on him and he ran off into his house.

Suddenly, a gunshot rang out. Richardson had fired his gun into the group. Christopher dropped to the ground. He was wounded. The boy died later that night.

Christopher’s death would spark a revolution.

Troubled Times

At the time of Christopher’s death, Massachusetts was one of the 13 Colonies, which were ruled by Britain. In 1763, Britain ended a long war with France and needed money. So King George III began taxing the colonists, charging extra fees for goods like tea, glass, and paper.

The colonists were not happy about the British taking money from them. After all, they had no representatives in the British government and no say in how it was run. This became known as “taxation without representation.” The colonists were fed up with the king’s tyranny. Why should they answer to someone who had never set foot in the Colonies?

To enforce the king’s rules, Britain sent troops to America. Thousands were stationed in Boston. There were constant arguments between the soldiers and the colonists. Many of the colonists boycotted, or refused to buy, goods shipped from England.

Massachusetts was one of the 13 Colonies at the time of Christopher’s death. The Colonies were ruled by Britain. In 1763, Britain ended a long war with France and needed money. So King George III began taxing the colonists. The king charged extra fees for goods like tea, glass, and paper. 

The colonists were not happy about the British taking money from them. After all, they had no representatives in the British government. They also had no say in how the government was run. This became known as “taxation without representation.” The colonists were fed up with the king’s tyranny. Why should they answer to someone who had never set foot in the Colonies?

Britain sent troops to America to enforce the king’s rules. Thousands were stationed in Boston. There were constant arguments between the soldiers and the colonists. Many of the colonists boycotted, or refused to buy, goods shipped from England. 

Fired Up

News of Christopher’s death spread across Boston like wildfire. Thousands of people came together to grieve at a huge public funeral. That grief turned to anger and pushed hatred of the British to dangerous new levels.

“In Boston, things were at a breaking point,” explains historian Nat Sheidley.

Just two weeks after the funeral, on March 5, 1770, a group of angry colonists approached a British soldier. They began insulting him. Before long, the mob was throwing ice and stones at the soldier.

More British troops arrived and then . . . bang! In the scuffle, a soldier fired his gun into the crowd. After a few seconds of shocked silence, more soldiers fired. In all, five colonists died. This incident would become known as the Boston Massacre.

News of Christopher’s death spread across Boston like wildfire. Thousands of people came together to grieve at a huge public funeral. That grief turned to anger. It pushed hatred of the British to dangerous new levels.

“In Boston, things were at a breaking point,” explains historian Nat Sheidley.

Just two weeks after the funeral, a group of angry colonists approached a British soldier. It was March 5, 1770. The colonists began insulting the soldier. Before long, the mob was throwing ice and stones at him. More British troops arrived and then . . . bang!

A soldier fired his gun into the crowd in the scuffle. More soldiers fired after a few seconds of shocked silence. Five colonists died in all. This incident would become known as the Boston Massacre. 

A New Nation

The Boston Massacre was a turning point in the colonists’ fight to be free from Britain.

“After the Boston Massacre, there was no way to make peace with Britain,” says Sheidley.

In 1775, the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired. The colonists’ long, hard fight for independence had begun—and a new nation would soon be born.

The Boston Massacre was a turning point in the colonists’ fight to be free from Britain.

“After the Boston Massacre, there was no way to make peace with Britain,” says Sheidley.

In 1775, the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired. The colonists’ long, hard fight for independence had begun. A new nation would soon be born.

1. How did Christopher Seider's death spark a revolution?

2. How does the section "Troubled Times" contribute to the reader's understanding of the article?

3. Describe what happened on March 5, 1770, before shots were fired.

1. How did Christopher Seider's death spark a revolution?

2. How does the section "Troubled Times" contribute to the reader's understanding of the article?

3. Describe what happened on March 5, 1770, before shots were fired.

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