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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man

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Phillip Dawe, (c.1750-c.1785) "The Bostonians Paying the Excise-Man or Tarring & Feathering." London (1774). Colored engraving. Location: Private Collection Photo Credit: Art Resource, NY.

Creator British political cartoonists
Context For several years, from the 1760s into the 1770s, Great Britain tried to establish that it had the right to tax the colonies.
Audience Great Britain's public
Purpose To illustrate political debates

Historical Significance

In the days before radio or television, political leaders and opinion-makers used drawings to shape public perception of events.

Each of these drawings was first published in England in 1774 and addressed the question of British taxes in North America. The first depicted how Boston patriots treated British officials who tried to enforce these taxes. The second, a more sympathetic view, illustrated the British forcing America or Liberty (shown as a woman) to swallow tea, "the Bitter Draught." The female figure in the background is Brittania, who often symbolized Great Britain. The American patriot and engraver Paul Revere liked this image and reproduced it in Massachusetts.


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