The Bostonians in Distress

Media type: print
Museum Number: 532890
Annotation: This print appeared in a London newspaper on November 19, 1774, shortly after the Boston Tea Party. Although the print shows the British viewpoint toward rebellion, the colonists probably found the print to be positive as well. A patriot viewer might see the print as a representation of the “poor Bostonians,” caged and starving because of Great Britain’s unfair policies and restrictions. A loyalist viewer might see the print as depicting a “we’ve got them now” attitude, showing colonists boxed in by their own illegal actions and paying the appropriate consequences for defying the authority of the Crown. The artist symbolized the closing of the port of Boston by the British by placing the Bostonians in a cage suspended from the Liberty Tree. One of the men in the cage holds a paper inscribed “They cried unto the Lord in their Trouble & he saved tham out of their Distress. Psalm cvii 13.” The three men in the small boat attempting to feed the hungry men in the cage represent the other American colonies that sent supplies to aid the citizens of Boston during the crisis. The fish have been placed on the ends of poles that are then thrust through the bars of the cage. British soldiers on the shore with cannons, and warships in the harbor symbolize the continued blockade.
Year: 1774