March 5, 1770 – The Boston Revolution
There are many stories told about The Civil War, and about the part which blacks (then slaves) played in it. There’s one name that most of us are familiar with though, and that is Crispus Attucks, the first African American to die for the revolution, and one of the first patriots to give his life for the cause.
There is an anonymous account of the bloody start to the Revolutionary War, The Boston Massacre, which is where Crispus Attucks lost his life. Here is an excerpt from that account:
This party in proceeding from Exchange lane into King street, must pass the sentry posted at the westerly corner of the Custom House, which butts on that lane and fronts on that street. This is needful to be mentioned, as near that spot and in that street the bloody tragedy was acted, and the street actors in it were stationed: their station being but a few feet from the front side of the said Custom House. The outrageous behavior and the threats of the said party occasioned the ringing of the meeting-house bell near the head of King street, which bell ringing quick, as for fire, it presently brought out a number of inhabitants, who being soon sensible of the occasion of it, were naturally led to King street, where the said party had made a stop but a little while before, and where their stopping had drawn together a number of boys, round the sentry at the Custom House. whether the boys mistook the sentry for one of the said party, and thence took occasion to differ with him, or whether he first affronted them, which is affirmed in several depositions,-however that may be, there was much foul language between them, and some of them, in consequence of his pushing at them with his bayonet, threw snowballs at him, which occasioned him to knock hastily at the door of the Custom House. From hence two persons thereupon proceeded immediately to the main-guard, which was posted opposite to the State House, at a small distance, near the head of the said street. The officer on guard was Capt. Preston, who with seven or eight soldiers, with fire-arms and charged bayonets, issued from the guardhouse, and in great haste posted himself and his soldiers in front of the Custom House, near the corner aforesaid.
– Anonymous, “An Account of the Boston Massacre,” (1770)
On March 13, 1770 William Warren was found guilty of the crime of shooting Crispus Attucks twice in the breast, mortally wounding him.
How Did He End Up A Patriot Hero?
Crispus Attucks was considered to be the first hero of the Revolutionary War. He was a sailor on a whaling ship who may possibly have been forced to join the British Navy. Whether he was or not, Attucks did not like the way the British treated the American colonists, especially the high taxes the British charged them. He gathered a group of like-minded sailors, and led them in a revolt in protest of British tyranny. Crispus Attucks and his band of angry sailors encountered a group of soldiers and began to throw snowballs and sticks at them. The British soldiers responded by shooting into the crowd of sailors and bystanders, killing Crispus Attucks and ten other people.(Biographies Crispus Attucks 1723-1770)
While there are differing accounts of how and why Crispus Attucks died, most accounts have one fact in common; Crispus Attucks was the first patriot, and person of color killed in The Boston Massacre, which is considered by some to be the start of the Revolutionary War.