May 19, 1713

Boston's Poor Riot Over Cost of Bread

Greater Boston

On this day in 1713, more than 200 people rioted on Boston Common over the high price of bread. The lieutenant governor tried to intervene but was shot and wounded for his efforts. This was the third such riot in four years. With grain in short supply, merchants were hoarding it to drive up prices. If they exported the grain to the West Indies, they could make even greater profits by selling to the sugar planters there. Boston selectmen tried without success to restrict grain sales to the domestic market. The riots helped persuade the colonial legislature to pass regulations designed to manage food shortages. Even with these laws on the books, however, hoarding and food riots continued throughout the eighteenth century.


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