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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / A New Nation

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Boston Massacre, The
March 5, 1770

Historical Information

On March 5, 1770, British redcoats nearly set the revolutionary powder keg in Boston alight. American anger with Parliament had been growing for years, and in 1768, British soldiers took up posts in the city to enforce royal rule. The redcoats were not popular. Thomas Preston quoted an American justice as issuing dire words of warning by proclaiming openly "that the soldiers must now take care of themselves, nor trust too much to their arms, for they were but a handful; that the inhabitants carried weapons concealed under their clothes, and would destroy them in a moment, if they pleased." By 1770, fights between soldiers and civilians were breaking out all over Boston. On the evening of March 5, a dispute outside the Custom House on King Street between some townspeople and a British sentry spiraled out of control as soldiers arrived to back up the sentry and someone broke into nearby churches and rang the bells. A crowd assemble and zeroed in on the commotion. Civilians taunted, spit on, and finally started throwing debris at the soldiers, who then opened fire. In the ensuring melee three Americans were killed – including a runaway slave of African and Native American descent named Crispus Attucks – and two others mortally wounded. Patriot propagandists depicted the affair as a deliberate "horrid massacre" perpetrated by bloodthirsty redcoats. American rage became unquenchable.

Text by Edward G. Lengel from The New Nation: The Creation of the United States in Paintings and Eyewitness Accounts: The Art of Mort Künstler
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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.