To show off and sell its useful but expensive Archive of Americana digital databases, the Readex company offers a few online samples, including this broadside about the Boston Massacre titled “Poem in memory of the (never to be forgotten) Fifth of March, 1770.” Click on the picture here to go to the appropriate page, and click on the picture there to download a PDF version.
I first saw this document reproduced on the wall of the Old State House Museum. The Readex version is a scan from a microfilm photograph of an imperfectly preserved printing, so it’s not pretty. In fact, I’m not sure it’s legible. Here’s my best guess at the second stanza:
Look into king-street: there with weeping eyesSo as poetry it’s not readable, either.
Regard O Boston’s sons—there hear the cries!
There see the men lie in their wallow’d gore!
There see their bodies, which fierce bullets tore!
Still, it’s possible to spot some interesting details.
- At the top is a line of five coffins for the five people killed on King Street, whose names are also listed after the title. Like the dark borders, this was an obvious sign of morning.
- Within the text another coffin appears, representing the death of Christopher Seider eleven days before the Massacre.
- Seider’s coffin, like the one above marked “S.M.” for Samuel Maverick, has a scythe on it as well as a skull and crossbones. I believe that was supposed to symbolize that these boys had been cut down too soon: Seider at nearly age eleven, Maverick at seventeen.
- The poem mentions another badly wounded boy, Christopher Monk, in the tenth stanza. He survived for several years, but people blamed his disability and early death on his wounds.
- Stanza 8 calls for punishment of Ebenezer Richardson, who shot Seider. However, the poem doesn’t complain that he’s been convicted and not punished, which probably dates it to mid-1770.