Black First of the Day

Black Firsts 3e
ISBN: 9781578593699

Who was the black hero who sacrificed himself at the Boston Massacre, an event that would help inspire the American Revolution?

  • Little is know of his early years. It is believed that he was a runaway slave.
  • He was also identified as a merchant seaman.
  • A monument, in honor of the Boston Massacre victims and featuring him, was dedicated in the Boston Commons in 1888.
  • On February 13, 1998, the U.S. Mint issued a commemorative silver dollar featuring his likeness on the back.


Crispus Attucks (c. 1723-70)

The first black casualty in the American Revolution was Crispus Attucks (c. 1723-70). He was not enlisted in an army but instead was 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. This 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. However, historians are more definite about placing him in Boston in 1770. The Crispus Attucks Monument, in honor of the victims, was dedicated in the Boston Commons in 1888.

Sources: Jet 91 (10 March 1997):19; 95 (8 March 1999): 19; Smith, Notable Black American Men, pp. 40-42.

From Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Events by Jessie Carney Smith, © 2013 Visible Ink Press®. A celebration of achievement, accomplishments and pride.

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