Crispus Attucks

(1723-1770)

Crispus Attucks leader of a group of American colonists, who was killed when the group was fired upon by British troops in the 1770 event known as the Boston Massacre. On March 5 of that year, a group of Boston citizens participating in a demonstration against England’s oppressive laws and restrictions, harassed a squad of British soldiers; the soldiers responded by firing into the crowd. Attucks was the first man killed. Four other Americans also died in the incident.

The public reaction was one of shock and anger. Attucks’ body lay in state in Boston’s Faneuil Hall for three days. Thousands attended his funeral and all shops in the city closed.

The Boston Massacre marked a major turning point in the events leading to the American Revolution. Referring to March 5, one writer would later pen, “On that night, the foundations of American Independence were laid”

Little is known of Attucks life prior to the Boston Massacre. It is uncertain whether he was black, of mixed black and white descent, or of both African and Native Natick American Indian ancestry. Many historians believe that he was a runaway slave who signed up as a sailor. In 1888 a monument was erected in the Boston Common to honour Attucks and the others who died in the Boston Massacre.

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