Boston Massacre Historical Society


The Unknown Diagram made by Paul Revere

Paul Revere made not one but two depictions of the Boston Massacre. The first one was perhaps the most recognized symbol of the American Revolution. It was published under the long name “The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regiment”. It is believed that the image was originally created by a different artist Henry Pelham. Pelham then gave the drawing to Revere who was a skilled silversmith and engraver to reproduce it by printing from the engraving.

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The second virtually unknown depiction of the Boston Massacre created by Paul Revere himself was a schematic diagram made in pen and ink on paper. It did not have the drama of Pelham’s image, but historically was more accurate. It was even submitted as evidence in the Boston Massacre trials. This diagram was created to show the position of the British regulars and the Boston citizens killed during the incident.

At first glance the image may look like a street plan, but if you look close you can clearly see the bodies laying on the street signed by the initials of those who fell there. It is like a modern-day police sketch of a crime scene. Let’s take a closer look at what is pictured here.

On the bottom left, you can see two bodies laying together marked by ‘A’ and ‘G’ close the hard-pressed circle of British bayonets. These are Attucks and Gray who, witness agreed, died at the soldiers’ feet. The boy, Maverick, was shot while standing in Quaker Lane. In the diagram his little figure is marked with a ‘G’, presumably for his master, Isaac Greenwood. James Caldwell is indicated correctly with a ‘C’. This drawing was made before Patrick Carr died, because his is not present in it.

There is more animation in these struggling pen and ink figure than Paul Revere ever got into his more formal engravings. They suggest that he himself had stood in King Street that night and had actually seen the men dead and dying about him.

In addition to the Revere’s unknown diagram, history holds several other mysteries when it comes to depictions of the Boston Massacre. There is a pretty good case to support the story that Revere copied the original Henry Pelham’s print without permission. The main accusation was made by Pelham himself in his letter to Revere in Boston Gazette. It openly called it “one of the most dishonorable Actions you could well be guilty of”. And just to add to the confusion, there is a third popular image, virtually indistinguishable from Revere’s and Pelham’s print. It was created by William L. Champney in 1856.



Paul Revere's Engraving


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