Revolutionary Propaganda




The bloody massacre perpetrated in King Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regt.Bloody Massacre, Paul Revere, 1770, engraving, Boston, Library of Congress. 

Paul Revere is known as the man who famously cried, “the British are coming, the British are coming!” before the battle of Lexington and Concord. However, the Boston Massacre, dramatized in this engraving, is more important in Revolutionary history when it comes to Paul Revere’s legacy. The Boston Massacre was in fact not a massacre. It was more Boston instigators who were sick of British rule hoping to entice a fight. This image does not tell the whole story. Notice the writing on a building in the top right hand building, that reads ‘Butcher’s hall.’ This is a subtle addition to the piece as it augments the notion of violence. The placement of Butcher’s Hall is above the Redcoats, who are made to clearly be the aggressors and in the wrong, when in fact the opposite is true.

This is solely a piece of propaganda produced by Revere to galvanize interest in a revolution. In 1770 British rule was strong but with a few patriots like Revere roaming the streets. As Boston is where the American Revolution is known to have started, Revere’s piece is instrumental in the beginning of the rebellion that is the American Revolution.


4 thoughts on “Revolutionary Propaganda”

  1. While I agree that the picture above was used by Revere to gain support for his revolutionary ideals, I don’t think you can say that it’s purely propaganda. It was essentially a massacre since the British soldiers did fire upon unarmed colonists. From what I know about this, and I may be wrong, the colonists did throw several objects at the soldiers intending to hurt or provoke them into a fight. However, I really don’t think that justifies killing them. Think of how the reaction would be today if the police or army shot a large group of unarmed protesters because of supposed instigation by the protesters. So while it may be slightly misleading, I wouldn’t say it’s purely propaganda.

  2. During this time period in American history, propaganda was at the forefront of every idea, including the image above. Revere puts emphasis on every detail in the engraving to make it seem as if the colonists were in desperate need of a revolution in order to escape further brutalities by the Redcoats.

    Would Revere have made this poster had the colonists not needed the support to start a revolution against the British?

  3. I agree this image definitely has a propagandistic motive. Every detail about it gives a feeling of innocence toward the colonists, even the small dog near the bottom and the soldier pulling back on a mans legs seems to blow the event out of proportion. Perhaps this needed to be blown out of proportion in order to get enough supporters, as the revolutionists were only a small population of the colonists at this time. It leaves me wondering if Revere actually viewed this event in this way, or if he only saw this as his opportunity to gain supporters.

  4. It is very interesting to me how one-sided things become in wartime propaganda. It is obviously a tactic to gain support, but if the cause, in this case the American Revolution, is worthy, then why do we need to bend the truth in order to gain support? It reminds me of the training soldiers go through before combat which teaches them to dehumanize the enemy. It is almost as if we also have to be trained during times of war to hate the enemy, even if we never see the front lines.

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