Paul Revere was the first to commercially publish a depiction of the Boston Massacre. He accomplished this within three weeks of the event. He had help from Henry Pelham. Henry was the half-brother of John Singleton Copley and an accomplished portrait painter, engraver, and mapmaker. Henry was an avid Loyalist and Paul Revere a radical Son of Liberty. Henry lent a copy of his painting to Paul one week after the Massacre. Henry and his family lived a few houses from the actual Massacre site.
Much of the changes in Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre seemed done to gain the jury pool’s empathy in the subsequent three Boston Massacre trials. It is highly likely that Samuel Adams had much to do with the skewing of Paul Revere’s engraving.
Neither Adams nor Revere were witnesses at trial and likely not on site at the time of the Massacre. In all probability, if they were instigators of the event they would not have wanted to witness it for fear of being called to testify under oath. Testifying might have revealed their complicity in the Massacre. Moreover, it would have been difficult to withhold information about the Sons of Liberty and the various Freemason and caucuses used to gather secrets about the Crown’s military and political intention.
Therefore, here are some propaganda points in Paul Revere and Henry Pelham’s engravings of the Boston Massacre.
Four experienced judges and the best legal minds in Boston defended and prosecuted the three Massacre trials. Most of the judges were or would be labeled Tories. The engravings inflamed and prejudiced the citizenry but in the end, the Colonial jury drew the correct conclusion. Revere and Pelham quietly settled their differences. Apparently, there is no written record. Yet, somehow, we suspect both parties gained financially from the “Bloody Riot Perpetrated on King Street.” Revere sold his engravings to the public on March 26, 1770. A few days earlier all the British Troops were removed from Boston. The streets of Boston quieted down from November 1770 to December 16, 1773; 1,381 days from the Massacre.
We’d love to have you on our walking tour to review the three Massacre trials and the critical points of law debated. In the interim, our several blogs track events that instigated the Massacre, available by clicking here.
Dictionary of American Biography, available Lexington Reference desk, and many other libraries and colleges
[i] Bennet Cuthberston Military author described the 'plait' thusly:"The hair of the Non-commission-officers, Drummers, and private Men, look tightest, when turned up behind on a comb, and loosely platted, with a black ribband or tape (three quarters long) in a bow knot at the tye." Taken from reddit AskHistorians www.reddit.com/ /r/AskHistorians/comments/30qp74/did_the_british_soldiers_really_wear_powdered/
Credit in general to the Massachusetts Historical Society for their three day seminar on the Boston Marathon.
Zobel, Hiller B. "VII." In The Boston massacre,. New York: W.W. Norton, 1970.
Forbes, Esther. Paul Revere and the world he lived in. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1988.
Allison, Robert. "Perspectives on the Boston Massacre." - Massachusetts Historical Society.
August 2, 2015, Massachusetts Historical Society Walking Tour.
Bell,John "Boston 1775." : http://boston1775.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-talks.html. Accessed August 4, 2015. http://boston1775.blogspot.com/p/upcoming-talks.html..
Lemisch, Jesse. " Review: Radical Plot in Boston (1770): A Study in the Use of Evidence." Review: Radical Plot in Boston (1770): A Study in the Use of Evidence. December 1, 1970. Accessed August 8, 2015. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/stable/1339722?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoAdvancedSearch%3Fgroup%3Dnone%26amp%3Bq6%3D%26amp%3Bf6%3Dall%26amp%3Bc4%3DAND%26amp%3Bq3%3D%26amp%3Bc6%3DAND%26amp%3Bf2%3Dall%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26.
[ii] Typical name for those for independence from British rule.