Today in Media History: In 1770, the Boston Gazette reported on the ‘Boston Massacre’

March 5, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

On March 5, 1770, British soldiers killed five demonstrators in an incident known as the Boston Massacre.

The story soon appeared in the Boston Gazette.

1770 newspaper nameplate, Library of Congress Image

1770 newspaper nameplate, Library of Congress Image

Here is an excerpt from the Boston Gazette‘s March 12, 1770 story about the Boston Massacre:

“….But the young man seeing a person near him with a drawn sword and good cane ready to support him, held up his stave in defiance; and they quietly passed by him up the little alley by Mr. Silsby’s to King Street where they attacked single and unarmed persons till they raised much clamour, and then turned down Cornhill Street, insulting all they met in like manner and pursuing some to their very doors. Thirty or forty persons, mostly lads, being by this means gathered in King Street, Capt. Preston with a party of men with charged bayonets, came from the main guard to the commissioner’s house, the soldiers pushing their bayonets, crying, make way!….”

— This excerpt comes from a longer version
posted by the Boston Massacre Historical Society

Engraving by Paul Revere. Title: "The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a Party of the 29th Regiment."  Library of Congress

Engraving by Paul Revere. Title: “The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a Party of the 29th Regiment.” Library of Congress

Paul Revere created the most influential illustration about the Boston Massacre.

“He (Paul Revere) was also an engraver; but he was not one who created original works. Instead, he engraved works whose genesis came from the ideas of others. His ‘Bloody Massacre,’ while clearly one of his best-known prints, had its beginning in the mind of Henry Pelham (1749-1806), an artist, engraver, and half-brother of the painter John Singleton Copley (1738-1815).

It appears that Pelham engraved his own version of the Massacre and lent Revere some version of it, from which Revere made his engraving, adding at the top his title and at the bottom a heroic couplet and the names of those killed or who were expected to die. He advertised the sale of the prints on March 26, 1770, three weeks after the Massacre and a week before Henry Pelham began selling copies of his own version….”

— “The Bloody Massacre
Boston Athenæum

See Also:
Four coffins of men killed in the Boston Massacre.”
Library of Congress. (Larger image)
Summary: Print shows section of newspaper column with illustration of four coffins bearing skull and crossbones and the initials of those killed.
Illustration in: The Boston Gazette, and Country Journal, March 12, 1770.

The following video not only describes the Boston Massacre, but also shows how the news traveled across the colonies. The narrator says, “News spreads fast…”

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