Crispus Attucks role in the Boston Massacre

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As a fugitive slave working as a sailor Crispus Attucks was always in danger on getting caught. For over twenty years he sailed out on a whaler from Boston Harbor and during his time off he worked as a rope maker near the wharf. In early 1770 competition for work and wages became stiffer as British soldiers were contending for the same unskilled positions as locals. This situation created tension which slowly escalated to violent confrontations. On Friday March 2nd a group of redcoats and rope makers collided in a bar in Boston. By this time tensions were high and on the following Monday March 5th on Murray’s barracks, a group of rope makers and sailors, lead by Crispus Attucks, confronted a group of soldiers looking for work.

The events of the Boston Massacre started when a young man named Edward Garrick who had been at King Street insulting the soldier on duty and who had been hit in the ear with a bayonet encountered Attucks and his group. In no time they gathered twenty to thirty sailors and armed themselves with sticks from the butchers’ stalls and cord wood piles and marched up Cornhill. They made their way to King Street whistling and carrying their sticks upright over their heads.

According to witnesses’ depositions during the Boston Massacre Trial, Crispus Attucks, described as a stout mulatto whose very looks was enough to terrify any person, was at the head of twenty or thirty sailors. Attucks was leading the angry group, he was handling a large cordwood stick and the rest had clubs as weapons. As the soldiers pushed people off they were verbally provoked and struck with clubs, snowballs as big as a fist and sticks of any kind.  Attucks with one hand held the bayonet of Montgomery  and with the other knocked him down. Montgomery immediately fired and killed Attucks. Eight seconds later a second shot was heard. There were a total of 7 or 8 shots.

Crispus Attucks was the only victim who became known after dying at the massacre. He became the first martyr of the American Revolution. The death of the five citizens was used as propaganda by separatists.

 

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