Friday, March 4, 2016

"The Incident on King Street" (aka The Boston Massacre) (Boston #3)

"This night. The 29th Regimt on Duty. A Quarrell between the soldiers and Inhabitants - The Bells Rung -- A Great Number Assembled in Kingstreet  -- A Party of the 29th under the Command of Capt Preston fird on the People they killed five -- wounded Several Others-- particularly Mr. Edw Payne in his Right Arm, -- Capt Preston Bears a good Character-- he was taken in the night and Committed also Seven more of the 29th--the Inhabitants are greatly enraged and not without Reason." - Diary of John Rowe, 5 March 1770 (Massachusetts Historical Society)

Site of the Boston Massacre - Photo by Jim Schmidt

Tomorrow - March 5, 2016 - is the 246th anniversary of "The Boston Massacre" - also known as "The Incident on King Street" and other monikers ("State Street Massacre," as an example).  In my continuing series on sites I visited on a trip to Boston late last summer, I'm pleased to add two more in this post: "The Site of the Boston Massacre" and "The Old State House."

Both are sites on Boston's excellent "Freedom Trail" and sit within yards of each other.

Today, a ring of stones  marks the site of the Boston Massacre and reenactments hosted by the Bostonian Society take place on the anniversary every year. 

Site of the Boston Massacre - Photo by Jim Schmidt
The marker has an interesting history itself: it's been moved several times over the years to accommodate traffic patterns and construction projects.

Also, while in Boston, I visited the "Granary Burying Ground" (I'll be doing a post on that site in the near future) - the cemetery is the final resting place of the victims of the Boston Massacre:

Grave site of Boston Massacre Victims - Photo of Jim Schmidt
In my increased reading on the Colonial/Revolutionary Era, including the Boston Massacre, I've come across three great resources:

First - the Massachusetts Historical Society - they have a great launch page about the Boston Massacre with links to a lot of terrific primary material in their collections

Next - J. L. Bell's Boston 1775 website - which has quickly become one of my favorites - he has more than 130 tagged posts on the Massacre (and counting) - check out his most recent posts (he's always active around the anniversary) which have some great information.

Finally - I've just finished reading Richard Archer's As If an Enemy's Country: The British Occupation of Boston and the Origins of Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2010) - a really good book about the civil (and not-so-civil) disobedience among the citizens of Boston that led to the occupation of the city in 1768 and (owing to increased animosity between the citizens and occupying soldiers) to the Massacre in March 1770.  You can see my amazon review of the book here.

 And now for the Old State House, near which the Boston Massacre took place!

Paul Revere Engraving - Gilder Lehrman Institute
There is a classic Paul Revere engraving of the Boston Massacre, styled "The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770."  In fact, Revere "borrowed" the engraving from artist Henry Pelham, who created the first illustration of the episode—and who was neither paid nor credited for his work.

In the center background one sees a prominent building - the "Old State House."  From the Freedom Trail website:

The Old State House has stood as an emblem of liberty in Boston for over 300 years! Built in 1713 to house the colony’s government, the Old State House was at the center of civic events that sparked the American Revolution. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was first read to the people of Boston from the Old State House balcony, and the building became home to the newly-formed government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Crowd gathered at Boston Massacre Site in front of Old State House - photo by Jim Schmidt

And what luck!  Here's an archival photo (1900) with almost exactly the same aspect!

Archival Photo of Old State House (c. 1900) - Library of Congress

Old State House - photo by Jim Schmidt

Old State House - photo by Jim Schmidt
Look for more Boston blog posts to come!  Below are links to previous posts:

Boston #1 - Poe Statue
Boston #2 - Robert Gould Shaw/54th Massachusetts Monument

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