Featured Image Source
Image 1: Excise Payment in Tar and Feathers
Context: The caption reads “The Bostonians paying the excise-man or tarring & feathering”. This cartoon depicts a fiendish-looking group of Bostonians “paying their dues” to the British tax collector by tarring and feathering him. Tarring and feathering is the act of dousing someone in tar and feathers in an attempt to humiliate them. The Brit is also being forced to drink tea. Behind the mob stands a “liberty tree” with a “Stamp Act” poster on its trunk and a noose hanging from a branch. Out on the water is a recreation of the Boston Tea Party in which Bostonians threw tea overboard a British ship as a way to protest the Tea Act.
Image 2: “The Patriot’s copious Tears . . . which embalms the Dead”
Context: This drawing shows a scene from the “Bloody Massacre”, also known as the “Boston Massacre”, in which British soldiers shot and killed multiple people after being harassed by a mob of civilians. This was during the British occupation in Boston. In the image, we see the British soldiers on the right attacking
- Who do you think the target audiences of these images are? Are they meant to be seen by the same or different demographics of people?
- What purpose do you think these images serve? Why might have been the authors motive in creating them?
- Put yourself in the perspective of a Bostonian during the 1770s. How might you respond to each of these images? Would your perspective change as a person living in Britain?
Instructional Goals and Model Answers
- Students will be able to investigate an author’s purpose by analyzing the work created by that author in the context for which it was created.
- The target audiences for these images are different. Image 1 is meant to be seen by the British. This image shows the Bostonians as cruel people who do terrible things to the British because they don’t want to pay taxes. Image 2’s target audience are the people living in the colonies. The picture and accompanying description paint the British as uncaring people who are indifferent about killing the Bostonians.
- I think these images are meant to make the people within their targeted demographic angry and strengthen the biases they have about the opposite group of people. The colonists wanted support in their rebellion against the British while the British wanted those within Britain to support the decisions being made by them in the American colonies.
- As a Bostonian, both of these images would probably enrage me. The first image because it paints people like me in a bad light. The second image would also make me angry at the British for cruelly murdering people within my city. It may also inspire me to support the rebellion. As a British person, I would probably be disgusted by the images. Image 1 would make me upset and sick because it depicts someone like me being harassed by people going against the government I support. Image 2, however, might make me feel mixed things. If I already support the British troops, I’d probably be upset that the Bostonians depicted the soldiers in the way that they did. If I wasn’t sure about my stance on the colonies, I might start thinking negatively about the soldiers in the colonies.