The Boston Massacre began innocently with boys throwing snowballs at a British sentry on March 5, 1770. However, thanks to much agitation by Adams's men in the days prior to the incident, a large crowd soon formed outside the guardhouse, and more British soldiers reinforced the sentry. When a British officer tried to disperse the crowd, he and his men were bombarded with rocks and dared to shoot by the unruly mob. After being knocked to the ground, one soldier finally did shoot, and others followed. Five civilians were killed in the gunfire. All but two of the soldiers were later acquitted of any wrongdoing.
In protest of the Tea Act–which would allow Britain to use the profits from selling tea to pay the salaries of royal governors–Adams orchestrated a stalemate where several tea ships were stalled in Boston harbor, unable to offload their tea because of threats by the Sons of Liberty. However, the ships could not return to England without paying duty on the shipment. On December 16, 1773, the night before customs agents were to seize the tea, Adams gathered Boston residents and warned them of the consequences of the Tea Act. After the meeting, several hundred Sons of Liberty dressed as Native Americans boarded the ships and dumped nearly three-hundred boxes of high-quality tea into the harbor–thereby ending the stalemate and enraging the British.