On the cold and snowy night of March 5th, 1770, Patrick Carr was unlucky. British soldiers in Boston fired indiscriminately into a mob of local people, and the Irishman was hit by a stray bullet.
In 1767, Parliament in London passed what were known as the Townshend Acts.
At the time Charles Townshend, known as ‘Champagne Charlie,’ was Chancellor of the Exchequer and, to overcome the national debt, he came up with the idea of reducing the debt by imposing taxes on the colonists. The items on which duties would be imposed were paint, paper, glass, lead and tea imported into the colonies.
Because the colonists angrily protested, 4,000 troops were sent to Boston. This town was a major shipping port, and it became a major centre of opposition. After the arrival of the troops, there was much antagonism. British imports were boycotted in America, and extreme pressure was exerted on local merchants who imported these items. Parliament had eventually to acknowledge defeat and to repeal all, bar one, of the new duties. The exception was the duty on tea.
The colonists were annoyed that the tea duty remained, and the antagonism soon became bitter. On the evening of March 5th, rowdy youths surrounded a lone soldier, Private Hugh White, on guard duty outside the Boston Customs House, and he was subjected to harassment and verbal abuse. People were summoned to come to the assistance of the youths by the ringing of bells, the traditional means of alerting people to a fire, and within a short while the crowd numbered over 300.
Patrick Carr, who was a maker of leather breeches, was one of those who answered the call. He was going to bring with him a small cutlass, but a neighbour persuaded him to leave the weapon at home. Crispus Attucks also answered the call. He was a black runaway slave.