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.