Crispus Attucks

Crispus Attucks is celebrated as the first martyr of the Revolutionary War.

He was one of the first Americans to die in the struggle for freedom. He was an African American.  Who was Crispus Attucks and why was he killed?

Crispus Attucks was believed to be the son of an enslaved African man and a Native American woman. When he was 27, he escaped enslavement. He found freedom in Boston as a sailor and a ropemaker. There, he would become an important figure in the Revolutionary War.

By 1770, British troops occupied Boston. They were there to enforce unpopular British laws. Many people in Boston did not want them in the city. Because British soldiers often took second jobs, Attucks had extra reason to oppose the British. Some British soldiers were competition for his rope making jobs.

On March 5, 1770, Attucks was part of a crowd of angry Bostonians. They confronted a British guard. When British reinforcements arrived, the crowd threw snowballs and debris at them. A British soldier mistakenly fired on the crowd, and then other troops followed. Attucks was one of the men who was killed in what became known as the Boston Massacre.

The Boston Massacre outraged many colonists and drew many more people into the Revolutionary cause. Attucks and the others who were killed in the massacre were honored with a funeral that was attended by over 10,000 people. He inspired the American struggle for freedom. Later, in the 1840s, the movement to end slavery became strong. People opposed to slavery looked at Crispus Attucks for inspiration. He became a symbol for the African American struggle for freedom.

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