3. The Boston Massacre

Engraving Illustration: Print issued by Paul Revere

In 1770 tensions were high between Bostonians and Redcoats sent to Boston in the wake of the Stamp Act riots. Occasionally things would erupt into fist fights and angry confrontations. On March 5, Private White, on guard at the Custom’s house in King’s Street (now State Street) left his sentry box and struck young Edward Garrick in the face with the butt of his musket for insulting his commanding officer. White soon found himself surrounded by an angry mob that hurled taunts and snowballs at him.

Captain Preston of the 29th Regiment arrived with eight Redcoats to reinforce White. The troops forced their way through the increasingly hostile crowd, now swollen to several hundred people. Amidst a hail of snowballs and rocks, a club thrown from the crowd struck Private Montgomery in the face. Witnesses said Montgomery then fired the first shot. The crowd continued to press on the soldiers and more shots were fired. When the smoke cleared, five men lay dead or dying.


  Samuel Adams held funerals for the victims and organized a vigorous propaganda effort, labeling the event a bloody massacre. His second-cousin John Adams defended the soldiers in court and all but two were acquitted of all charges. Today, a simple ring of stones marks the site of the Boston Massacre and re-enactments take place on the anniversary every year.
http: //www.thefreedomtrail.org/visitor/boston-massacre.html

Riot and self defense, or massacre?

The extract on the right, suggests that the above illustration of this incident in Boston, is unreliable and inaccurate.

a) List in your workbook, the criticisms that the writer makes about this above engraving illustration, that was produced just after the 'massacre'.

b) Also add to your list, the criticisms made of the illustration on the following site:

c) Following your own research on this incident, do you think that this above engraving could be described as an early example of political propaganda?
Include a few brief quotes from different sources to support your view.

d) What motive would the American 'patriots' have for producing this engraving, and circulating it throughout the colonies?

The 'Bloody Massacre'.

With ongoing protests against the Townshend Duties, waterfront jobs scarce due to non-importation, and poorly-paid, off-duty British troops competing for jobs, clashes between American laborers and British troops became frequent after 1768. In Boston, tensions mounted rapidly in 1770 until a confrontation left five Boston workers dead when panicky troops fired into a crowd.

This print issued by Paul Revere three weeks after the incident and widely reproduced depicted his version of what was quickly dubbed the “Boston Massacre.” Showing the incident as a deliberate act of murder by the British army, the print (which Revere plagiarized from a fellow Boston engraver) was the official Patriot version of the incident.

 In reality, British soldiers did not fire a well-disciplined volley; white men were not the sole actors in the incident; and the Bostonians provoked the soldiers with taunts and thrown objects.

  e) How do the details or account of the event, as presented in the following video, compare with the details shown in the engraving illustration issued by Paul Revere?