Saturday, March 10, 2018

March 10-11, 2018: Boston Massacre Studying: My Sons’ Thoughts

[On March 5th, 1770, the events that came to be known as the Boston Massacre took place on King Street. So this week I’ve AmericanStudied a handful of contexts for that pivotal pre-Revolutionary moment, leading up to this special Guest Post from my sons based on their elementary school studies of the massacre.]
As part of a Revolutionary era Social Studies unit in 5th grade (one for which I was fortunate enough to be able to come in each year to talk to their class about Revolutionary slaves in Massachusetts), each of my sons has spent a good bit of time studying the Boston Massacre and its contexts (my older son last year, my younger son this year). Since their picture has adorned this blog throughout its 7.5 years of existence, I thought it was long past time to add their voices into the mix a bit more fully!
As you might expect with two young men so close in age (and many other ways), they had the same main answer when I asked what they’d want to focus on for a Guest Post on the Massacre: both are particularly interested in the many mistakes or misrepresentations in Paul Revere’s famous engraving “Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in Kings Street in Boston” (which itself was apparently a copy of an earlier work, as I discussed in yesterday’s post). When I asked for some specific examples, here’s the list they came up with together:
“It looks like the Redcoats are being ordered to fire but they weren’t; Crispus Attucks was painted as white to make the Southern colonies care more about the casualties; Revere portrayed many fewer colonists than were really there; He included a dog with the colonists to make them more sympathetic; He put a butcher shop behind the Redcoats to suggest a connection of them to butchers; He portrayed the colonists as unarmed when really some had rocks or clubs or other makeshifts weapons; and he set the event during the day in order to make it more clear and visible.”
We talked a bit more as well about propaganda, and about how it’s possible for a text like Revere’s both to represent certain histories and yet to depict them in constructed ways designed to achieve particular purposes. As usual, I learned at least as much from the boys as they did from me!
Spring Break coming up and the next series starts Monday the 19th,
PS. What do you think?

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