Judge Edmund Goff Trowbridge
Born: 1709, Newton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts
Died:Apr. 2, 1793, Massachusetts
Parents: Thomas Trowbridge & Mary Goffe
Occupation: lawyer, jurist
Public Office: Attorney-General of Massachusetts,
Supreme Court Justice, Colony of Massachusetts
He was Graduated at Harvard in 1728, and for some time bore the name of Goff, after an uncle. 'This Goff,' wrote John Adams in 1759, 'had been attorney-general for twenty years, and commanded the practice in Middlesex and Worcester and several other counties. He had power to crush, by his frown or his nod, any young lawyer in his country.' He became attorney-general of Massachusetts in 1749, and was a member of the council several years, but lost favor with the popular party in 1766, on account of his lukewarmness in resisting British aggressions. He was elevated to the supreme bench of Massachusetts the next year, and, notwithstanding his loyalist principles, is declared by all his contemporaries to have been the most profound lawyer in New England prior to the Revolution, and an honorable and upright judge. In the trial of Captain Thomas Preston and other British soldiers for firing on the people in State street, Boston, 5 March, 1770, his fairness and ability commanded universal praise. But, although he was attached to the royal government, he did not approve of all its measures, and in 1772, alarmed at the aspect of affairs, he resigned his office and retired to private life. As an executor of John Alfred, a wealthy merchant of Boston, he had the power of determining to what the latter's bounty should be applied, and founded in Harvard the Alfred professorship of natural religion, moral philosophy, and civil polity. He was the last of the judges of the supreme court of Massachusetts that wore the scarlet robe and powdered wig."
(From the Boston Massacre Historical Society Website)
The Boston Massacre (the killing of five
men by British soldiers on March 5, 1770) was the culmination of
civilian-military tensions that had been growing since royal troops
first appeared in Massachusetts in October 1768. The soldiers were in
Boston to keep order, but townspeople viewed them as potential
oppressors, competitors for jobs, and threats to social mores. Brawls
became common. In 1768, the Commissioners of Customs, who acquired
their jobs in Britain and drew their pay from what they collected in
America, were so intimidated by the resistance they met in Boston that
they demanded military protection. Boston's fifteen thousand or so
residents were clearly the worst malcontents on the North American
continent. It was imperative that they be put in their place. General
Thomas Gage (Commander In Chief of the British Army in America) agreed
and ordered the regiments (under the command of British Lt. Colonel
William Dalrymple), the "14th West Yorkshire Fuseliers," and the "29th
Worcestershire," to Boston, which would arrive from Halifax in
September. Six weeks later the "64th" and "65th" Regiments, with an
addition of a detachment of the "59th" Regiment and a train of
artillery with two cannon -- in all about 700 men -- arrived from
Ireland to protect the men who collected customs duties for the King of
England. To the people of Boston the coming of the troops was
outrageous. They had been fighting for years against infringement by
Britain of their right to tax themselves.
In one of the most famous and elaborate of Paul Revere's engravings, it shows the arrival of the red-coated British troops. Revere wrote that the troops "formed and marched with insolent parade, drums beating, fifes playing, and colours flying, up King Street. Each soldier having received 16 rounds of powder and ball." Troops of the 29th, unable to secure lodgings in town, pitched tents on the common. The stench from their latrines wafted through the little city on every breeze.
British Troops Land At Long
Wharf, Boston Harbor - 1768
When Colonel Dalrymple requested that all of his men be assigned to the homes of citizens, the Boston council took a firm stand. It declared that citizens were not required to furnish quarters until all the barracks space was filled, and Castle William, in the harbor, had plenty of empty berths. Besides, British Redcoats had already made a deep impression upon Americans during the French and Indian War. These career soldiers were widely regarded as being surly, brutal, and greedy; and no man of any sense was ready to see even one of them put into the house with his wife and daughters. Governor Bernard, however, had counted upon dispersing the troops into the homes of malcontents as a way of putting pressure upon them. He declared that concentrating soldiers at Castle William would thwart the decisions made in London. The Boston councilmen held firm and refused to budge. Desperate, the governor designated empty factory buildings and small, empty buildings throughout the city to the troops. Even under normal circumstances the presence of General Thomas Gage's troops (nearly one for every four inhabitants) would have led to trouble. Now, the imposition of an occupation force on a city already torn with strife, made bloodshed a foregone conclusion.
By 1770 Boston was an occupied town. It had been compelled to accept the presence of four regiments of British regulars. For eighteen months they had treated the inhabitants with insolence, posted sentries in front of public offices, engaged in street fights with the town boys, and used the Boston Common for flogging unruly soldiers and exercising troops (then acting governor, Lt. Governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts, refuted these allegations). It began when a young barber's apprentice by the name of Edward Garrick shouted an insult at Hugh White, a soldier of the 29th Regiment on sentry duty in front of the Customs House (a symbol of royal authority). White gave the apprentice a knock on the ear with the butt of his rifle. The boy howled for help, and returned with a sizable and unruly crowd, chiefly boys and youths, and, pointing at White, said, "There's the son of a bitch that knocked me down!" Someone rang the bells in a nearby church. This action drew more people into the street. The sentry found himself confronting an angry mob. He stood his ground and called for the main guard. Six men, led by a corporal, responded. They were soon joined by the officer on duty, Captain John Preston of the "29th," with guns unloaded but with fixed bayonets, to White's relief.
The crowd soon swelled to almost 400
men. They began pelting the soldiers with snowballs and chunks of ice.
Led by a huge mulatto, Crispus Attucks, they surged to within inches of
the fixed bayonets and dared the soldiers to fire. The soldiers loaded
their guns, but the crowd, far from drawing back, came close, calling
out, "Come on you rascals, you bloody backs, you lobster scoundrels,
fire if you dare, God damn you, fire and be damned, we know you dare
not," and striking at the soldiers with clubs and a cutlass. Whereupon
the soldiers fired, killing three men outright and mortally wounding
two others. The mob fled. As the gunsmoke cleared, Crispus Attucks and
four others lay dead or dying. Six more men were wounded but survived.
Captain Preston, the soldiers, and four men in the Customs House
alleged to have fired shots from it were promptly arrested, indicted
for murder, and held in prison pending trial for murder in the
Massachusetts Superior Court, which prudently postponed the trial until
the fall, thus giving the people of Boston and vicinity from whom the
jury would be drawn, time to cool off. All troops were immediately
withdrawn from town. John Adams defended the soldiers at their trials
(Oct. 24-30 and Nov. 27-Dec. 5, 1770); Preston and four men were
acquitted, while two soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter and
released after being branded on the hand.
The calm with which the outcome of the trials was accepted doubtless was attributable in large measure to the evidence at the trials that the soldiers had not fired until they were attacked. But another important factor was the withdrawal of the troops from Boston immediately after the "Massacre." The sending of British warships and troops to Boston for the protection of the American Customs Board and the "Massacre" resulting from the presence of troops there were, however, ultimately of great significance in the movement toward the revolution. The "Massacre" served as anti-British propaganda for Boston radicals and elsewhere heightened American fears of standing armies.