Sunday, March 26, 2017
On this day in 1846, The Boston Evening Star ran a front page story about a 13 year old, negro shoeshine boy, Nathan Miller, having been killed during an altercation with seven university students, in the Jamaica Plain area. The story focused not on the seven students - all full-grown men in their 20s, and all from fine New England families - but on allegations, made by unnamed sources, that Miller had been less than reputable in his business practices, had overcharged for his services, and was known to argue with patrons who had expressed their dissatisfaction in his shoeshines. In the weeks to come, the university students told their story to the press several times - about having been attacked by Miller when they refused to pay for what they considered to be poor shine jobs, and having accidentally beaten him to death while defending themselves from what they perceived to be a serious threat from the 13 year old. Thanks to public outcry from those who'd read the facts about the night in question, and about Nathan Miller's record as a street urchin, a scoundrel and an unsavory character who was prone to violent outbursts, local authorities decided that charging the young men with a crime would only serve as an unpleasant reminder of the harrowing experience they would surely carry with them forever.