The Fifth of March

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The Fifth of March is a 1993 novel about the Boston Massacre (of March 5, 1770, pre-Revolutionary War) by historian and author Ann Rinaldi, who was also the author of many other historical fiction novels such as Girl in Blue and A Break with Charity.

This book is about a fourteen-year-old indentured servant named Rachel Marsh who finds herself changing as she meets many people, including young Matthew Kilroy, a British private in the 29th regiment who is not very easy to get along with. She has a friend named Jane, who was her first ever friend.


Rachel Marsh, age fourteen, helps a young British Private, Matthew Kilroy, and continues to help him even after he is sent to jail for murder. During the cold winter in Boston, she sneaks food from the dinner table to Matthew. Rachel is torn apart by the building tension between the British soldiers, and the Patriots. One day her friend Jane comes to her bedroom window, tells her to get dressed and follow her. In the center of Boston there were massive riots against the British soldiers, guns are being fired and people are being killed. In particular, in self-defense, Matthew shoots a Bostonian. In the meantime, Rachel is being swept away by the crowd and has lost Jane.

She visits the book keeper, Henry Knox. Rachel wants the Adamses to know nothing of her being there as that could lose her her position. Later in the book she has to tell Mr. Adams because she wants him to do the right thing for Matthew. Mr. Adams is angry, but understands why she did it. While Matthew was in jail, she secretly brings him food. This, Mr. Adams doesn't really like. She wants the people she works for, John Adams, to help him and 6 other soldiers out of jail, but that would ruin his career.

In the end John Adams does help the soldiers, but two of them including Matthew are accused of manslaughter. Matthew is branded and shipped back to England. Matthew proposes matrimony to Rachel but she refuses him. Mr. Adams feels that it would be best to let go of Rachel when they move back to Braintree. He gets Rachel a position in Philadelphia, which he thinks would suit her. She is about to begin a new chapter in her life.