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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Boston Massacre Memorial Unveiled on November 14, 1888

On Wednesday, November 14, 1888, the citizens of Boston unveiled the Boston Massacre Memorial on the Tremont Street Mall on Boston Common.  The Memorial commemorated the death of five Bostonians who were gunned down by British soldiers in Boston on March 5, 1770, an episode that helped launch the Revolutionary War.

Governor Oliver Ames attended, along with Mayor Hugh O'Brien, the city's first Irish-born mayor of Boston.  The orator for the event with Irish-born poet John Boyle O'Reilly, who had penned a poem for the occasion he entitled Crispus Attucks, in honor of the African American who was one of the five martyrs killed that evening, along with Patrick Carr, an Irish sailor, Samuel Gray, James Caldwell and Sam Maverick.  

Surprisingly, there was opposition to the Memorial from old-line Bostonians.   Jeffrey Roche noted in his biography of O'Reilly:

"A vigorous attempt was made by certain gentlemen of Tory proclivities to prevent the (memorial), by showing that Attucks and his comrades were "rioters" and "rebels."  The Massachusetts Historical Society petitioned Governor Ames to refuse his sanction to the bill, and made a bitter attack on the memory of the Revolutionary martyrs.  O'Reilly, true to his democratic instincts, ranged himself on the side of those who desired to honor the (patriots)."

For a great account of the Memorial by Boston writer and blogger Chris Klein, click here.  

For more about Boston history and the Boston Irish contribution, visit