Crispus Attucks is considered to possess been born around 1723, in Framingham, Massachusetts. His dad was likely a slave and his mom a Natick Indian. A 1750 advertising in the Boston Gazette sought the retrieval of a runaway slave named “Crispas,” but all that’s undoubtedly known about Attucks is that he was the very first to drop during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. Born into captivity, Crispus Attucks was the son of Prince Yonger, a slave sent to America from Africa, and Nancy Attucks, a Natick Indian.
What’s been pieced together paints a picture of a young man who revealed an early ability for purchasing and trading goods. He looked unafraid of the effects for escaping the bonds of captivity. Historians have, actually, nailed Attucks as the focus of an ad in a 1750 version of the Boston Gazette where a white landowner offered to pay 10 pounds for the yield of a young runaway slave. Attucks, nevertheless, managed to escape for good, spending another two decades on trading boats and whaling boats coming in and out of Boston.
As British control on the colonies tightened, tensions escalated between the colonists and British soldiers. Attucks was one of those directly impacted by the worsening situation. Seamen like Attucks always lived together with the danger they may be driven to the British navy, while back on land, British soldiers often took part time work from colonists. Tensions were ratcheted up further three nights after when a British soldier trying to find work entered a Boston pub, and then be met with a contingent of angry sailors, one of whom was Attucks.
The details regarding what followed have been the supply of disagreement, but that evening, several Bostonians approached a guard before the customs house and began taunting him. The problem quickly escalated. When a contingent of British redcoats came to the defense of the fellow soldier, more furious Bostonians joined the fracas, throwing snowballs and other things in the soldiers. Attucks was one of those in the midst of the fight, so when the British opened fire he was the first of five guys killed. His homicide made him the first victim of the American Revolution.
Fast becoming known as the Boston Massacre, the episode further propelled the colonies toward war with all the British. John Adams, who went to become the second U.S. president, defended the soldiers in court. During the trial, Adams labeled the colonists an unruly mob that compelled his customers to open fire. Helping to direct the assault was Attucks, Adams charged, though argument has raged over how involved he was in the fight. One report claims he was just “leaning on a stick” when the gunshots erupted.
However, Attucks became a martyr. His body was carried to Faneuil Hall, where he and the others killed in the assault lay in state. City leaders even waived the laws around black interments and let Attucks to be entombed with all the others in the Park Street graveyard. In the past few years since his passing, Attucks’s heritage has continued to survive, first with the American colonists ready to break from British rule, and afterwards among 19th century abolitionists and 20th century civil rights activists.