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“The Bostonians paying the excise-man, or tarring and feathering.”

A 1774 British print depicted the tarring and feathering of Boston Commissioner of Customs John Malcolm. Tarring and feathering was a ritual of humiliation and public warning that stopped just short of serious injury. Victims included British officials such as Malcolm and American merchants who violated non-importation by importing British goods. Other forms of public humiliation included daubing victims’ homes with the contents of cesspits, or actual violence against property, such as the burning of stately homes and carriages. This anti-Patriot print showed Customs Commissioner Malcolm being attacked under the Liberty Tree by several Patriots, including a leather-aproned artisan, while the Boston Tea Party occurred in the background. In fact, the Tea Party had taken place four weeks earlier.

Source: Philip Dawe(?), mezzotint, 1774, 14 x 9 1/2 inches—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.