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Comparing Depictions of the Boston Massacre

Focusing on Details: Compare and Contrast

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

Choose one of the first three artistic depictions of the Boston Massacre created decades later in the mid-1800s and analyze the artwork using the questions below.

  • What do you see?
  • What do you think is happening?


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

Comparing Depictions of the Boston Massacre

Focusing on Details: Compare and Contrast

Examine the documents included in this activity and write your response in the space provided.


Based on your analysis of one of the depictions above, answer the following: 

1. Use the image to summarize what you think happened during the Boston Massacre.
2. Based on the image, which group seems to be the aggressor (persons starting or provoking the attack)?
3. Do you think the image depicts the viewpoint of the colonists involved or that of the British soldiers? Explain your opinion.

In your group, compare the first three images of the Boston Massacre to each other using these questions:

4. Do the documents portray the same story of the Boston Massacre? Why or why not?
5. What are the similarities and differences between the documents?

Your Response




1

Activity Element

Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Copy of chromolithograph by John Bufford after William L. Champney




2

Activity Element

"The Boston Massacre"




3

Activity Element

The "Boston Massacre"




4

Activity Element

The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a Party of the 29th Reg




Conclusion

Comparing Depictions of the Boston Massacre

Focusing on Details: Compare and Contrast

After analyzing and discussing the first three illustrations, compare and contrast them to the fourth image, Paul Revere's contemporaneous The Bloody Massacre from March 1770.

  • Does Paul Revere's portrayal of the event seem to show a bias? Why or why not?
  • How do you think colonists have reacted to this image? Why?
  • Do you think that Paul Revere's depiction of the Boston Massacre qualifies as propaganda? Why or why not?


Your Response




Document

Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Copy of chromolithograph by John Bufford after William L. Champney

3/5/1770 (artwork ca. 1856)

This is a copy of a chromolithograph (color print) by John Bufford after William L. Champney's circa 1856 drawing. Champney's drawing is the earliest known depiction of Crispus Attucks as a person of color participating in the Boston Massacre.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Work Projects Administration.
National Archives Identifier: 518263
Full Citation: Photograph 69-N-4877-C; Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Copy of chromolithograph by John Bufford after William L. Champney; 3/5/1770 (artwork ca. 1856); WPA Information Division Photographic Index, ca. 1936 - ca. 1942; Records of the Work Projects Administration, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/boston-massacre-chromolithograph, October 20, 2021]


Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Copy of chromolithograph by John Bufford after William L. Champney

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Document

"The Boston Massacre"

3/5/1770 (artwork ca. 1868)

This engraving is model after the painting by Alonzo Chappel from 1868.
This primary source comes from the 30.
National Archives Identifier: 513326
Full Citation: "The Boston Massacre"; 3/5/1770 (artwork ca. 1868); Historical Photograph Files, 1896 - 1963; 30, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/the-boston-massacre-chappel, October 20, 2021]


"The Boston Massacre"

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Document

The "Boston Massacre"

3/5/1770 (artwork ca. 1883)

The "Boston Massacre" - "The British Yoke" - Harpers New Monthly Magazine. June-Nov. 1883. Vol. 67 p. 431.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Bureau of Public Roads.
National Archives Identifier: 135797351
Full Citation: The "Boston Massacre"; 3/5/1770 (artwork ca. 1883); Cities; Historical Photograph Files, 1896 - 1963; Records of the Bureau of Public Roads, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/the-boston-massacre, October 20, 2021]


The "Boston Massacre"

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Document

The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a Party of the 29th Reg

3/1770

This is a copy of Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre showing his depiction of events – British soldiers firing at Americans. The engraving was published three weeks after the "massacre" and includes a poem Revere likely wrote.

Transcript

Unhappy Boston! see thy Sons deplore
Thy hallow’d walks besmear’d with guiltless gore
While faithless P____n and his savage bands
With murd'rous rancour stretch their bloody hands
Like fierce barbarians grinning o’er their prey
Approve the carnage and enjoy the day.

If scalding drops from rage, from anguish wrung
If speechless sorrow, lab’ring for a tongue
Or if a weeping world can ought appease
The plaintive ghosts of victims such as these
The patriot’s copious tears for each are shed
A glorious tribute which embalms the dead.

But know, Fate summons to that awful goal
Where Justice strips the murd’rer of his soul,
Should venal C___ts, the scandal of the land,
Snatch the relentless villain from her Hand
Keen execrations on this plate inscrib’d
Shall reach a Judge who never can be brib’d.

The unhappy sufferers were Mesr’s Sam’l Gray, Sam’l Maverick, James Caldwell Crispus Attucks, & Patr. Carr Killed Six wounded; two of them (Christ’r Monk & John Clark) mortally.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 530966
Full Citation: Photograph 111-SC-92632; The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a Party of the 29th Reg; 3/1770; Photographs of American Military Activities, ca. 1918 - ca. 1981; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, ; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/bloody-massacre-king-street, October 20, 2021]


The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a Party of the 29th Reg

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