cropped boston massacre

Boston Massacre, 1770

Paula Petrik, Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University



Look at the picture and answer the following:

  1. Where is Captain Preston, the British commander?
  2. What is he doing?
  3. Where are the troops?
  4. What are they doing?
  5. Describe the crowd—its size, composition, and location.
  6. What is the crowd doing?
  7. What time of day is it?

Revere changed the sign on the building to read “Butcher's Hall” instead of Customs House. What effect might this alteration have had on viewers?

  1. Although he probably knew eyewitnesses, Revere was probably not present at the Boston Massacre. How did Revere depict the Boston Massacre? What evidence can you provide to support your interpretation?
  2. How do you think Revere intended his viewers to understand the event?
  3. What does engraving say about Boston's patriot leadership and the revolutionary leadership in general?
  4. Why did several people who witnessed the same event recall it differently? What does this phenomenon tell you about the study of history?

Updated | April 2004

Paul Revere's version of the Boston Massacre

Click the image above to view a larger version.