The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regiment
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- Witness to America's Past
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[ This description is from the project: Coming of the American Revolution ]
This well-known engraving depicting the Boston Massacre was made by Paul Revere in 1770, although it is commonly believed to have been based on an engraving by Henry Pelham. Although Pelham created his image first, somehow Revere advertised and issued his own version first. The engraving expresses outrage at the actions of the British troops and to solicit support for the Patriot cause. The scene it depicts, although compelling, is historically inaccurate by depicting a line of Redcoats firing point-blank into a defenseless crowd, when in fact there was no such organized military action and the civilians were an unruly mob of sixty.
A Bloody Massacre
Visual representations of the confrontation on King Street appear soon after the event. Powerful images of coffins and skull-and-crossbones punctuate news accounts and decorate broadsides. Artist Henry Pelham prepares the first, emotional but inaccurate, illustration of the episode. Patriot artisan Paul Revere obtains Pelham's print, which he begins to sell a few days later (without Pelham's permission or attribution). By 1770, Revere is well known in Boston as a silver- and goldsmith as well as a skilled engraver. His satirical depictions of British colonial policies are known throughout the colonies. Like his earlier works, this hand-colored scene is intended to bring audiences around to Revere's point of view.
Questions to Consider
1. Describe the background scene in this engraving. What buildings do you see? What time of day is it?
2. How many soldiers do you see in the engraving? How would you describe their behavior?
3. How many townspeople do you see in the engraving? How would you describe their behavior?
4. What title does Revere give his engraving? Do you think it's an appropriate title?
5. Read another news account, pamphlet, or broadside that tells the story of 5 March. Compare Revere's depiction of events with this other account. What is the same? What is different?
6. Take a look at some of the other documents related to the Boston Massacre. What kinds of symbols do they include?
- Pelham, Henry
- Gray, Samuel
- Maverick, Samuel
- Attucks, Crispus
- Carr, Patrick
- Monk, Christopher
- Clark, John
- Revere, Paul
- Preston, Thomas
- Boston Massacre
- British soldiers
- Disillusionment with Britain
- Mob actions
- Occupation of Boston