Defending the Massacre - The Arguments of Josiah Quincy

Defending the Massacre - The Arguments of Josiah Quincy

While writing yesterday’s article about Edward Holyoke, I realized that one of his most important students was never the Founder of the Day. To remedy this, we will look at the story of Josiah Quincy.

Josiah Quincy was an active writer against Parliament’s hostile taxes in pre-revolutionary Boston.

Quincy’s most notable moment, however, was when he joined the defense team which supported the soldiers on trail in response to the Boston Massacre.


Josiah Quincy

In 1766, Josiah Quincy graduated with his Masters degree from Harvard and gave a commencement speech regarding patriotism.

Quincy immediately began publishing articles and pamphlets in response to the oppressive taxes coming out of Parliament.

His unique writing style and quick wit attracted the attention of the leading Boston Patriots and he began his climb into the pantheon of American Founders.


Defending the Massacre

After the Boston Massacre, the soldiers involved were brought to trial in what seemed to be an easy case for the prosecution.

The two men who accepted the case on behalf of the defense were John Adams and Josiah Quincy. Arguing for the other side were Robert Treat Paine and Josiah’s older brother, Samuel.

Adams would go on to be a leading Revolutionary and future President. Quincy never receive the same hype.  

Josiah did help his team secure not guilty verdicts (who two exceptions who were given light punishments compared to what the prosecution wanted).

This event, coupled with his writings, granted Quincy tremendous respect among his fellow Patriots.


South Carolina

Quincy was never a well man and by 1773 he decided to travel south to improve his health.

This adventure had two lasting implications.

First, Josiah kept a diary which gives modern students of the time period a unique look at pre-revolutionary South Carolina from the perspective of a New England Yankee.

Second, his firsthand accounts of how the new regulations were affecting Massachusetts helped radicalized many in the colony who were not facing outcomes which were quite so harsh.


At Sea

The following year, Josiah traveled to England in an attempt to rectify the growing resentment the colonies felt for the Mother Country.

His mission, as were those of many men, was an utter failure.

Quincy sailed for home. He could not have known that, while he was at sea, the Battle of Lexington and Concord had begun a war.

A week later, within sight of Massachusetts, Josiah Quncy’s sickness prevailed. He died just miles from home, unaware that his hard work had assisted in launching events which out establish a new nation.


Here are some other Founders involved with the troubles of pre-revolutionary Boston:

Christopher Seider - The First Casualty of the American Revolution

Dr. Joseph Warren and the Birth of a Revolution

A Founder Lost - the Treason of Dr. Benjamin Church

Josiah Quincy was one of several Founders whose contributions are overlooked due to an early death.

‘Portrait of a Patriot’ goes into detail on this lost Founder’s life.

If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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