Who Was Crispus Attucks?

College of Political Knowledge

Subject:  Black History

February and time for African-Americans to be praised for their contributions to mankind…..personally, I think it should be all the time and not just a month a year…..but who am I to change things up?

Ever hear of the Boston Massacre?

Crispus Attucks became the first casualty of the American Revolution when he was shot and killed. Although Attucks was credited as the leader and instigator of the event, debate raged for over a century as to whether he was a hero and a patriot, or a rabble-rousing villain. The debate notwithstanding, Attucks, immortalized as “the first to defy, the first to die,” has been lauded as a true martyr, “the first to pour out his blood as a precious libation on the altar of a people’s rights.”

Attucks’ occupation made him particularly vulnerable to the presence of the British. As a seaman, he felt the ever-present danger of impressment into the British navy. As a laborer, he felt the competition from British troops, who often took part-time jobs during their off-duty hours and worked for lower wages. Historians definitely place Attucks in Boston in March of 1770. Assuming that the Boston Gazette advertisement did refer to him, he would have been about 47-years old.

A fight between Boston rope makers and three British soldiers on Friday, March 2, 1770 set the stage for a later confrontation. After dusk on Monday, March 5, 1770, a crowd of colonists confronted a sentry who had struck a boy for complaining that an officer was late in paying a barber bill. As anger escalated, a church bell rang, which drew people out of their homes. The British soldiers of the 29th Regiment of Foot were called to duty. In turn, townspeople responded by hurling snowballs and debris at the soldiers. A group of men led by Attucks approached the vicinity of the government building with clubs in hand. Violence soon erupted, and a soldier was struck with a thrown piece of wood. Some accounts named Attucks as the person responsible. Other witnesses stated that Attucks was “leaning upon a stick” when the soldiers opened fire.

Five Americans were killed and six were wounded in what came to be called the Boston Massacre. Attucks was the first one killed; he took two bullets in the chest. Rope maker Samuel Gray and sailor James Caldwell also died in the incident. Samuel Maverick, a 17-year-old joiner’s apprentice, died the next day. Irish leather worker Patrick Carr died nine days later. Attucks’ body was carried to Faneuil Hall, where it lay in state until Thursday, March 8, when he and the other victims were buried together.

He should be held up as a martyr and a leader of the revolution……his name should be the first name remembered about the Boston Massacre…..and not some footnote in obscurity…..


2 thoughts on “Who Was Crispus Attucks?

  1. I’m not sure I would call him or any of the other who died from that conflict martyrs. The British soldiers were mere tools for the monarchy but they were also humans who feared for their life from an angry crowd. An account of the trial where John Adams defended the soldiers showed that the two who were later charged with manslaughter were mere privates which would indicate they were themselves rather young. One, Hugh Montgomery, was struck and knocked down by a member of the mob before shooting his weapon into the crowd.

    In my opinion the Boston Massacre was instrumental in inciting colonists to oppose British occupation. But when one looks at all the details of that conflict it can hardly be called heroic or patriotic. The outrage of some might have been understandable but it all looks like false charges from some in the crowd and a taunting towards a Private White by Attucks himself were examples of incivility, not righteous bravery.

    1. I think the fact they they were met by citizens that blocked their path can be called heroic, martyr may not be a good term for someone, but I stand by the heroic part….I believe they, the Americans, knew that they could be possibly fired upon and yet they marched on…..that is bravery to me……it is possible that too much can be made of the action and if he had uttered some patriotic diatribe like “I have but One life to give to my country” then this would be more talked about….and since there is no evidence of such this is a minor footnote…..

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