Mr. Slonaker's History 9 students have been studying the causes of the American Revolution. The Boston Massacre assignment prompt was as follows:
On the evening of March 5th, 1770, an angry group of colonists gathered outside of the Custom House in Boston. On guard was a company of British soldiers under the command of Captain Thomas Preston. Amid the chaos and confusion of the protest, a shot rang out in the darkness, followed by a volley of fire from the British soldiers into the crowd.
When the smoke settled, three colonists laid dead on the snow-covered ground. Of the many wounded, two would later die of their wounds.
On November 27th, the soldiers face trial for murder. If found guilty, they will undoubtedly be hanged for their crime. Will these guilty murderers be given their due justice? Or, will these men acting in self-defense against a mob be vindicated and found innocent of all wrong?
By faith in English courts and law, both sides desperately hope that justice shall prevail.
Students were divided into prosecution and defense teams, with some students serving as judges presiding over the case. The students were given two class days with their teams to investigate the original official depositions (eyewitness testimonies) to build their respective cases. Each class performed a 40-minute mock trial of the case from beginning to end during class.
Mr. Slonaker said, "It was so good to see so many students put in the extra effort outside of class; the level of precision and effective argumentation allowed those students to shine. Many of the students (even some of those who were not as prepared as they had thought) asked if we would get to do something like this again. I think the experience was not only memorable, but allowed the students to showcase some of the outcomes we desire to instill in them such as leadership, a love for the truth, a delight in learning, and winsome engagement with the culture. One of the biggest lessons I hope the students take from this comes from the follow-up conversation."
The next day, students got to see how the actual trial and verdict went and then spotlighted the heroes of this trial:
- John Adams - At severe cost to his personal and professional reputation, successfully defended the British soldiers in court and did so with skill and integrity. Taking a stand for truth will cost you.
- The eyewitnesses who came forward to tell the truth despite what the majority of Bostonians desired to be true. (Some were later beaten up in the streets because of their testimonies.) What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.