First ‘official’ report of the Boston Massacre
Domination of the narrative requires being the first to distribute a credible report. (Note that “credible” means “believable,” not “accurate” or “true.”) Reports are generally more credible if issued in the name of an organization or autoritative committee.
Samuel Adams knew the propaganda value of committees, especially ones made up of elected officials, because they purported to represent the views of many, and not just a single political faction. After the British shooting in March, 1770, that would become known as the Boston Massacre, Samuel Adams authored the town of Boston’s official version of events, had it issued in the name of “The Committee of the Town of Boston” (the Boston selectmen, who were the highest-ranking elected officials in the town) and had it sent immediately to England for publication.
The above report appeared in the April, 1770 edition of Gentleman’s Magazine, a major and influential monthly magazine published in London.
Click on the above image to expand it, and read the left-hand page which contains the full text of the statement from the Boston selectmen. Or click here to see the document as part of a larger collection.
Note the narrative: An official statement by the elected leaders of the town, complaining of hostile British soldiers’ near-constant abuse of the innocent townspeople, and of “the intrigues of wicked and designing men” who conspired “to bring us into a state of bondage and ruin, in direct repugnance to those rights which belong to us as men, and as British subjects. . . .” The committee notes that the townspeople demanded that the royal lieutenant governor (Adams’ archrival Hutchinson) was having the soldiers leave the town and be garrisoned at Castle William (on an island in Boston harbor), making it appear that, indeed, the soldiers are guilty of “murder” and that even the king’s representative and a commanding officer appear to concur. We will see how Adams orchestrated the removal of the troops to Castle William as part of his political warfare operation.
Here was the membership of the committee of selectmen: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, William Molineux (the militant Whig merchant and mob leader), Joshua Henshaw (a merchant and radical allied with Hancock who was forced to leave Boston under the 1774 Boston Port Act, part of the Coercive Acts or “Intolerable Acts”), William Phillips, Joseph Warren (a physician and patriot who drafted the Suffolk Resolves in cooperation with Samuel Adams, recruited Paul Revere and William Dawes to ride out to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams that the British were coming, and who would die at the Battle of Bunker Hill), and Samuel Pemberton (a merchant who would die before the Revolution would begin).