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Crispus Attucks was an African-American man killed during the Boston Massacre, making him the first casualty of the American Revolution.
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Crispus Attucks is believed to have been born around 1723, in Framingham, Massachusetts. His father was likely a slave and his mother a Natick Indian. A 1750 ad in the Boston Gazette sought the recovery of a runaway slave named "Crispas," but all that is definitely known about Attucks is that he was the first to fall during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770. In 1888, the Crispus Attucks monument was unveiled in Boston Common.
Born into slavery, Crispus Attucks was the son of Prince Younger, a slave shipped to America from Africa, and Nancy Attucks, a Natick Indian. Little is known about Attucks's life, or his family, who resided in Framingham, Massachusetts, just outside Boston.
What has been pieced together paints a picture of a young man who showed an early skill for buying and trading goods. He seemed unafraid of the consequences for escaping the bonds of slavery. Historians have, in fact, pinpointed Attucks as the focus of an advertisement in a 1750 edition of the Boston Gazette in which a white landowner offered to pay 10 pounds for the return of a young runaway slave.
"Ran away from his Master William Brown from Framingham, on the 30th of Sept. last," the advertisement read. "A Molatto Fellow, about 27 Years of age, named Crispas, 6 Feet two Inches high, short curl'd Hair, his Knees nearer together than common: had on a light colour'd Bearskin Coat."
Attucks, however, managed to escape for good, spending the next two decades on trading ships and whaling vessels coming in and out of Boston. Attucks also found work as a ropemaker.
As British control over the colonies tightened, tensions escalated between the colonists and British soldiers. Attucks was one of those directly affected by the worsening situation. Seamen like Attucks constantly lived with the threat they could be forced into the British navy, while back on land, British soldiers regularly took part-time work away from colonists.
On March 5, 1770, a Friday, a fight erupted between a group of Boston ropemakers and three British soldiers. Tensions were ratcheted up further three nights later when a British soldier looking for work entered a Boston pub, only to be greeted by a contingent of furious sailors, one of whom was Attucks.
The details regarding what followed have always been the source of debate, but that evening, a group of Bostonians approached a guard in front of the customs house and started taunting him. The situation quickly escalated. When a contingent of British redcoats came to the defense of their fellow soldier, more angry Bostonians joined the fracas, throwing snowballs and other items at the soldiers.
Attucks was one of those in the middle of the fight, and when the British opened fire he was the first of five men killed. His murder made him the first casualty of the American Revolution.
Quickly becoming known as the Boston Massacre, the episode further propelled the colonies toward war with the British.
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Whether fighting to defend their culture from foreign invaders, as in the case of Aztec emperor Montezuma II, or relaying the horrors of war with reports from the front like American journalist Ernie Pyle, famous people throughout history have died for their cause in military battle. Frontiersman Davy Crockett fought in the War of 1812 and died at the Alamo in the Texas Revolution. African American Crispus Attucks, killed during the Boston Massacre, was the first casualty of the Revolutionary War. General George Armstrong Custer and his men were famously cut down in the Battle at Little Bighorn. Roman slave and gladiator Spartacus is believed to have died during his uprising against Rome. These brave men and more became battlefield legends who met their end at the hands of their enemies. See People Who Died in Military Battles
Famous People Who Died in Military Battle 22 people in this group
Famous People Born in Massachusetts 207 people in this group
Famous People Who Died on March 5 11 people in this group