Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paul Revere:The Bloody Massacre (1770)

The Bloody Massacre. 1770. Hard-colored engraving. 8 15/16 x 10 11/14 in. Currently at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, NY.

The picture above was created by Paul Revere (who in turn copied this after artist Henry Pelham) which depicted the Boston Massacre of 1770 as a brutal attack on the American colonists by the British. It started when the Americans started to rebel against the British troops, causing them to open fire ultimately kill five people. This Massacre and later pictures which represented it fueled the idea that the British were heartless brutes who would kill in the face of turmoil and conflict.

However, in the later years it is looked at as propaganda, depicting the Americans as poor, helpless victims, while the British gun them down--even with a random dog between them to garner sympathy.In truth Americans were protesting the British against their taxes, to which violence arose and the British shot, mainly in self defense. The five deceased--Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, Patrick Carr, and Crispus Attucks--are shown either on the ground or being carried by survivors (except for Attucks, who as a freed African slave had to be "replaced" in the picture by a dead white man).

This type of propaganda fueled the idea of Britons being ruthless, killing fiends, while the Americans were pure, true and only fighting for what was right. Both sides had flaws and both sides needed support any way they could. When The Boston Massacre happened, it gave critics of England and the crown to verbally attack them for their hold on America. Although legend says this depiction of the Boston Massacre started the Revolutionary War, in truth it had started long ago. This just helped pour more gasoline onto the flames.

Source:(photo and information) Library of Congress

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