Boston Massacre, 1770
Paula Petrik, Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University
Look at the picture and answer the following:
- Where is Captain Preston, the British commander?
- What is he doing?
- Where are the troops?
- What are they doing?
- Describe the crowd—its size, composition, and location.
- What is the crowd doing?
- 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?
- 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?
- How do you think Revere intended his viewers to understand the event?
- What does engraving say about Boston's patriot leadership and the revolutionary leadership in general?
- 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