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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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Flames were fanned even more when the soldiers involved in the incident were acquitted on the grounds of self defense. John Adams, who went on to become the second U.S. president, defended the soldiers in court. During the trial, Adams labeled the colonists an unruly mob that forced his clients to open fire.
Helping to lead the attack was Attucks, Adams charged,
though debate has raged over how involved he was in the fight. One account claims he was simply "leaning on a stick" when the gunshots erupted.
Even so, Attucks became a martyr. His body was transported to Faneuil Hall, where he and the others killed in the attack lay in state. City leaders even waived the laws around black burials and permitted Attucks to be buried with the others at the Park Street cemetery.
In the years since his death, Attucks's legacy has continued to endure, first with the American colonists eager to break from British rule, and later among 19th century abolitionists and 20th century civil rights activists. In his 1964 book, Why We Can't Wait, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lauded Attucks for his moral courage and his defining role in American history.
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