Captain Preston: Guilty or Innocent? (Primary Source Analysis)

It was cold, snowy night: March 5, 1770. The colonists in Boston were riled up over what they felt were unjust laws and taxes. Soldiers stationed in the city were on edge, anxious about the behavior of the colonists. A fight broke out between Captain Preston’s regiment and the locals. Shots were fired. Five people lay dead. The events of that fateful evening quickly came to be known as The Boston Massacre. This “Massacre” further deepened the divide between England and the American Colonies, leading to the Revolutionary War in just five short years. Did Captain Preston order those shots to be fired on innocent civilians? Was this a premeditated attempt to enact revenge on the colonists? Or was he just a victim of circumstances beyond his control? Are the colonists the guilty ones? YOU DECIDE.

This is a primary source analysis activity complete with student packet, teacher packet/key, and presentation. Optional activities are also included to extend and deepen understanding.

Like my other primary source activities, you will get a helpful student packet with difficult words defined, graphic organizers, and (most importantly) engaging and accessible texts. You will also receive an awesome teacher packet to help you jump right in with minimal prep. It includes helpful tips, ideas, and supplemental material as well as a fun “British Debate” activity. You will ALSO receive a presentation to help teach students HOW to analyze primary sources using a fun text message example. This presentation includes everything you need to go over the first few primary sources together as a class with lots of notes, markings, tips, and ideas to help guide the students through this process. It also includes the supplemental materials mentioned in the teacher packet.

This primary source analysis includes 12 sources, which is more than my other activity packets. However, several of the sources are short testimonies from the actual trial of Captain Preston. It is still very manageable for students and easily adaptable to many different class scenarios. In order to complete the entire activity without adaptation, you should allow for two 45 minute class periods. It can be modified for one class or extended to last up to a week if all the supplemental materials are used. Check out the reviews on my very popular “Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain” in order to hear from other teachers how these primary source analysis activities work in the classroom!

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  • Boston-Massacre-Primary-Source-Analysis-Presentation.pptx
  • Boston-Massacre-Primary-Source-Analysis-Student-Packet.docx
  • Boston-Massacre-Primary-Source-Analysis-Student-Packet.pdf
  • Boston-Massacre-Primary-Source-Analysis-Teacher-Packet.docx
  • Boston-Massacre-Primary-Source-Analysis-Teacher-Packet.pdf

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Created: Jan 29, 2019


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