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The Bloody Massacre

With ongoing protests against the Townshend Duties, waterfront jobs scarce due to nonimportation, 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.

Source: Paul Revere, The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street Boston on March 5th, 1770 . . ., etching (handcolored), 1770, 7 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.