The Fifth of March

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The Fifth of March is a 1995 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, at age 14, is an indentured servant to John Adams, and his wife, Abigail Adams. Her father and mother have died, leaving Uncle Eb as her only living relative. However, Uncle Eb is greedy, uncaring, and often exploits Rachel. After a falling out over Uncle Eb wanting Rachel to spy on the Adamses, Uncle Eb disowns her. Rachel confides this to Abigail Adams, who comforts her and gives her money to go buy books at Henry Knox's bookstore. Rachel is inspired by Henry Knox and begins working to better her education.

Later, a British ship arrives. Many Bostonians are unhappy with this new change and begin rioting. Nevertheless, the British post sentries outside of many residences, including the Adamses. While coming back from the bakery, the sentry outside of the Adamses house, Private Matthew Kilroy, challenges Rachel. She notices that he is fearful and hungry looking. Taking pity on him, she gives the freezing sentry a few scraps of food.

As their friendship develops, Matthew begins pushing Rachel for more and wants her to kiss him. However, Rachel does not want to do so, and would rather remain friends. Their relationship is very tumultuous.

Rachel's close friend, Jane, suddenly drags Rachel out of bed one night. Rachel follows Jane to find a mob of citizens fighting against the British soldiers. She sees Matthew shoot and stab a defenseless man. This event would be known as the Boston Massacre. Later, Matthew is accused of murder.

Rachel sneaks food to Matthew, feeling pity for him.

John Adams defends the British 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.