From the American Revolution to the Spanish-American War

Why is Crispus Attucks important?

In 1770 Crispus Attucks (c. 1723–1770) became the first black casualty in the American Revolution. He was not enlisted in the army but instead was a part of a Boston group protesting the Townshend Acts. Tensions in Boston were already high when Attucks and his companions, who are said to have come from the Boston docks, approached the British garrison. While protesting at the garrison housing the British soldiers who were to enforce the acts, Attucks and several others were shot. The event came to be known as the Boston Massacre and is considered to have triggered the American Revolution. The details of Attucks’ early years are not well known. It is believed that he was of African and Native-American ancestry, that his father was a slave, and that the family lived in Framingham, Massachusetts. He is also identified as a merchant seaman. Further speculation, based on a 1750 advertisement in the Boston Gazette, identifies Attucks as a runaway slave. The Crispus Attucks Monument, in honor of the victims, was dedicated in the Boston Commons in 1888.

Killed at the Boston Massacre, Crispus Attucks was the first black man to die in the American Revolution.


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