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5 Massacres Where Almost Nobody Died


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St. George's Fields Massacre
William Allen was pursued and shot by British troops during the St. George's Fields Massacre. He was the first man of the seven to die. Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
William Allen was pursued and shot by British troops during the St. George's Fields Massacre. He was the first man of the seven to die. Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

This incident in London was a bit intertwined with the Boston Massacre. In 1768, two years before the Boston slayings, John Wilkes sat in London's King's Bench Prison, convicted of libeling King George III. Wilkes was a radical member of the House of Commons, and had written an article critical of the king that was published in Wilkes' newspaper, The North Briton, in 1763. Some 15,000 citizens, irate over Wilkes' arrest, gathered outside the jail in protest, angrily chanting, "Damn the King! Damn the Government! Damn the Justices!" and, "No liberty, no king!" [source: Simkin]. Fearing the protesters would attempt to storm the jail and rescue Wilkes, government troops fired into the crowd. Six people were killed plus one bystander, who soldiers pursued, cornered and shot, thinking he was one of the protesters [source: Buescher].

The horrifying event became known as the St. George's Fields Massacre, named for the section in London where it occurred. Afterward, riots erupted all over the city. Wilkes wrote to Boston's Sons of Liberty from jail, concerning the "horrid Massacre." He noted it was possible the government actually planned the massacre in advance. A British chaplain also railed against the murders from the pulpit; his sermon was printed and widely distributed in the American colonies. Two years later, when the Boston Massacre occurred, the colonists wondered if it too had been a government plot. Bostonians may have decided to use the term "Boston Massacre" to echo the St George's Fields Massacre [source: Buescher].


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