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What Really Happened In The Boston Massacre?18:30Download

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In this image provided by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, British troops fire at colonists in Boston, Mass., in the Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Five colonists were killed. It is believed that this incident spurred the American Revolution. (U.S. Army Signal Corps/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
In this image provided by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, British troops fire at colonists in Boston, Mass., in the Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770. Five colonists were killed. It is believed that this incident spurred the American Revolution. (U.S. Army Signal Corps/AP)

"Tuesday morning presented a most shocking scene — the Blood of our Fellow Citizens running like Water through King-Street."

Dateline: 1770. Publication: The Boston Gazette. Story: The Boston Massacre.

That sympathetic version of the story that most of us are familiar with — British soldiers opening fire on an innocent crowd of colonists — was put out with great haste.

But so was a competing account by British officers in a pamphlet titled: "A Fair Account of the Late Unhappy Disturbance at Boston in New England." According to that view, British soldiers were attacked "by at least a hundred people, armed with bludgeons, sticks, and cutlasses," in a city where it was "unsafe for an officer or soldier to walk the streets."

Competing narratives put out in the immediate aftermath of an historic event. Various sides trying to be the first to win hearts and minds. That battle, of course, continues on today.

Guest

Eric Hinderaker, professor of history at the University of Utah. The history department tweets @uofuhistory.

This segment aired on March 21, 2017.

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