Facts about Crispus Attucks

Born: c. 1723
Birthplace: ?
Best known as: The African-American killed in the Boston Massacre


Crispus Attucks Biography

Crispus Attucks is remembered as the first American to die in the colonists’ fight for freedom from Britain.

Crispus Attucks was an escaped slave of African and Native American descent, but not much else is known about him. He was part of an angry mob that surrounded eight British soldiers on March 5, 1770 outside the Customs House in Boston.

The soldiers fired on the crowd and Attucks was killed, along with four others. The shootings were quickly dubbed “The Boston Massacre” and seized on by angry colonists as a case of brutality by heavy-handed British rulers.

John Adams, later the second president of the United States, defended the soldiers at trial and won an acquittal for them by arguing that Crispus Attucks and the others were common thugs, not political freedom-fighters.

After the trial, patriots said it proved that even a British soldier could get a fair trial in independence-minded Boston. Despite that result, Crispus Attucks was held up as a martyr for defending political liberty.


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