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Crispus Attucks

1723-1770

By  Robin N.   - Gotha Middle School, Windermere, Florida.

Crispus Attucks was born in 1723. His birth date cannot be determined because he grew up as a slave. His father, Prince, was African and shipped to New England to become the slave of Colonel Buckminster in Framingham, Massachusetts. There, he married Nancy, a Natick Indian of North America. Crispus' siblings include Phebe, his sister who was older than him by about two years and "Little Brother," his unnamed baby brother who died when Crispus was seven due to a fever.

Until about the age of sixteen, Crispus had lived in a cottage with his family owned by their master, Colonel Buckminster. As a child to young adult, Crispus and Prince would do farm work and field work. Phebe and Nancy would do cleaning in the Buckminster house. Crispus and Phebe and never gone to school because they were slaves. Although Colonel Buckminster owned many slaves and indentured servants, he treated them with kindness and respect.

As Attucks gets older, he develops the desire for freedom. He becomes a problem for Colonel Buckminster because he frequently wanders from his duties and hardly pays attention. At about the age of sixteen, he's sold to Deacon William Brown also of Framingham, Massachusetts. His duties include buying and selling cattle, working in the Deacon's chandler shop, and traveling widely to look for business. What he truly wanted to do for a living is to work on boats, something he realizes isn't realistic without having freedom. Attucks, at the age of twenty-seven, goes on a business trip to Boston, Massachusetts. There, he secretly applies for a job as a whaler. He chose a ship that he knew wouldn't return to Boston in the near future in case Deacon Brown searches for him. Every so often, Attuck's ship would land in ports not too far from Framingham. Then, he would sneak out at night to visit his family.

In the fall of 1769, Attucks returned to Boston at the age of forty-six. It has been twenty years since he had run away and Deacon Brown had long given up the search for his trusted slave. By then, King George the Third had tried to rule over the colonies without their permission. This made colonists complain about their mother country, England, especially in Massachusetts, so King George sent British officer over to enforce the laws. Because of the arguments between Parliament and Colonist leaders, the anger and rage affected the British troops and townspeople. They would taunt the soldiers as they walked by them. Even children would call them names and throw rocks at them. Soon after, Attucks left to go on a whaling voyage and returned on the February of 1770. By then, a soldier who was taunted by a group of people shot into the crowd and killed a boy. Attucks soon realized that these colonists, like he twenty year earlier, longed for freedom. He had made small conversations in crowds before about how the people had felt about this situation. Every person felt that they hated it and wanted a change. Out of inspiration and the hope of freedom, Attucks walked up onto a mounted platform in front of a large crowd. He spoke briefly but effectively about striking back against the British. He emphasized on sticking together and building courage to rebel. As powerful as Britain may be, they have no right to tax the colonies three thousand miles away and without their opinion. This speech had triggered colonists to fight for their freedom.

On March 5, 1770, fire bells rang loudly at midmorning in Boston. Everyone came running out of his or her houses looking for a fire. As a small group led by Attucks passed, he explained that there was no fire. The bells were signal calling patriots to gather with them in the Town Square to solve the problem of the British. Attucks felt that too many people were getting hurt as a result of British troops violating the rights of the colonists. At the Town Square, Attucks left for the fishing docks and returned with fifty to sixty people who were mostly sailors. Unaffected, British Captain Preston and his eight troops make no move. Attucks broke the silence by challenging the British to put down their guns and fight the colonists. Just then, someone shouted "Fire!" A soldier named Montgomery shot and killed Attucks.

When the shooting was over, four other people had died; Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr. The bodies of Attucks and Caldwell were brought to Fanueil Hall since they were strangers to the town, and the bodies of Maverick and Gray were brought back to their homes. The four men were then buried in the Middle Burying Ground, one of the city's oldest cemeteries. Later, many people came to Dock Square to hear a memorial service. Many speeches were given about the bravery of Crispus Attucks and how even as a person who was not treated equally had the courage to fight for his country. This incident that showed how loyal someone can be to his country and became one of the greatest inspirations for patriots and colonists alike is called the Boston Massacre.


Bibliography

Hunt, Don. "Attucks, Crispus." Collier's Encyclopedia. 1991. Page 207.

Millender, Dharathula. Crispus Attucks, Black Leader of Colonial Patriots. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc., 1982. Pages 1 through 192.

Smith, Robert. The Infamous Boston Massacre. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1969. Pages 52 through 53.

 

ATTUCKS, Crispus, a mulatto, or half-breed Indian, killed 5 March, 1770, in what is known as the Boston Massacre. He was a resident of Framingham. On the day of the Massacre he was prominent in a crowd of people who were jeering at the soldiers and annoying them in every possible way. Finally Preston, the captain of the day, ordered his men to fire, and Attucks was the first to fall. Preston and six of his men were tried and acquitted by a Boston jury. John Adams, who defended them, charged Attucks with having "undertaken to be the hero of the night," and with having precipitated a conflict by his "mad behavior." He is praised by others for his courage, and is said to have been leaning quietly on a stick at the moment he was killed. He was about fifty years of age at the time of the affair. His body, together with those of the other victims, was borne in great pomp through the streets of Boston, and all were deposited in one common vault. All the shops were closed, and the bells of the city and neighboring towns were tolled. See Bancroft's "History of the United States," and also an article on Attucks in the "American Historical Record" for 1872. -- Edited Appleton's Cyclopedia American Biography Copyright 2001 by VirtualologyTM

 

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