But Mr. Adams handled himself quite well, though he knew the odds were stacked against him. An avowed Patriot, he nevertheless gave the men an honest defense. He argued that the Redcoats were faced with what was effectively a lynch mob. If, as they claimed, they were being threatened and felt endangered by "a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes, and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs," then they had the legal right to fight back. At most, they could be found guilty of manslaughter - not murder - if they hadn't been in any danger but were instead merely provoked. In the end, the jury agreed with Adams.
They acquitted six of the eight soldiers, perhaps ultimately swayed by an argument made by Adams, as true and applicable to our world today as it was back in Colonial times: "Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." As for the two other soldiers, they were convicted of nothing more than manslaughter: Further evidence that the jury agreed with John Adams's argument that the soldiers had some justification for opening fire. As for the soldiers' commander, one Captain Preston, he too was acquitted of any crime.