At the event hosted by the Sons of the Revolution, historian and author Barnet Schecter spoke about the tensions surrounding the Stamp Act and Quartering Act that led to the erection of a "Liberty Pole" near Bowling Green. The pole was destroyed by British soldiers on many occasions and the townspeople responded each time by building a larger and more ostentatious pole. A war-of-words ensued as pamphlets were posted by those with both pro- or anti-British sentiments.
On January 19, 1770 Isaac Sears, a member of the Committee of Correspondence, intervened and captured British soldiers as they tried to post their pamphlets. An alarm was raised and soldiers came out of the barracks to surround the crowd that had formed on Golden Hill, a wheat field near what is now the intersection of John Street and William Street, in Lower Manhattan. The soldiers attacked with bayonets injuring many bystanders including fish merchants who happened to be passing through.
On February 6, 1770, the Sons of Liberty raised yet another "Liberty Pole" in the square. Alexander McDougall was arrested the next day and accused of libel as the author of political writings believed to have instigated the conflict. McDougall refused to post bail and was jailed. The protest of his imprisonment became a rallying symbol for those who were beginning to speak out against British policy in the colonies.
Just six weeks later on March 5, 1770, the bloodshed would escalate into what is now remembered as "the Boston Massacre."