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Paul Revere, "The Bloody Massacre," 1770 Library of Congress

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Paul Revere, The Bloody Masacre

In March 1770, hostility between British troops stationed in Boston since 1768 and residents of the town erupted in bloodshed. Small altercations and tense interactions had been common. But on the night of March 5, the situation escalated, when a group of yong men and boys throwing taunts and snowballs at a British guard led an officer to order several troops to join the soldier. A crowd quickly grew. In the noise and confusion, weapons were fired, and five colonists lay mortally wounded.

The incident, quickly dubbed "The Boston Massacre" by Samuel Adams, became the subject of political engravings and propaganda. Engraver Henry Pelham made a version which Paul Revere copied and rushed into print before Pelham's. Revere's engraving was published originally in the March 12, 1770, issue of the Boston Gazette. When Elizabeth Murray, then in London, heard news several weeks later of the "murder" committed in Boston, she was shocked and alarmed.


Paul Revere engraving of 1768 troop arrival, 1770