Boston Riots: Three Centuries of Social Violence

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UPNE, 2001 - History - 289 pages
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From the food uprisings in the early 1700s to the notorious anti-busing riots in the mid-1970s, incidents of communal social violence have played a significant role in Boston's history.

Jack Tager explores the more than 100 riots that occurred in the city over a span of nearly three centuries. Drawing on exhaustive research in newspaper archives, Jack Tager revisits both well- and lesser-known episodes, including the grain, impressment, brothel, and Pope Day riots of the eighteenth century; the anti-Catholic, abolition, and draft riots of the nineteenth century; and the Kosher meat, police strike, ghetto, and busing riots of the twentieth century.

Tager identifies the protagonists, highlights their motives and demands, and seeks to determine whether they realized their goals. He also examines how victims suffered at the hands of their fellow citizens, shows how law enforcement responded to the riots, and considers the complex social interactions and tensions that contributed to the uprisings. He finds that most incidents of violent civil disorder were initiated by the powerless lower classes who believed rioting was the only avenue for giving voice to their grievances over political, cultural, religious, or economic oppression.

This vivid portrait of an ever-changing community over time provides a revealing glimpse into peoples' anger, aspirations, and frustrations. It sheds new light on why groups are provoked to take unlawful action in response to unjust conditions, and it opens a fresh vista on the social history of Boston.

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Boston riots: three centuries of social violence

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From 1700 to 1976, 103 riots ripped Boston, a city where social violence has been endemic. Tager (history, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst) details such acts of communal violence as the food ... Read full review


The EighteenthCentury Setting
Food Customs Antielite
The Impressment Riot of 1747
Norm Enforcement Race
AntiCatholic Tensions 18501900 and the Draft Riot of 1863
The 1919 Police Strike Riots
Ghetto Riots 19671968
Antibusing Riots Fall 1974
Antibusing Riots 19751976
Chronology of Boston Riots
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