In 1770, Crispus Attucks, a black man, became the first casualty of the American Revolution when he was shot and killed in what became known as the Boston Massacre. Although Attucks was credited as the leader and instigator of the event, debate raged for over as century as to whether he was a hero and a patriot, or a rabble-rousing villain.
Twenty years earlier, an advertisement placed by William Brown in the Boston Gazette and Weekly Journal provided a more detailed description of Attucks, a runaway: "A Mulatto fellow, about 27 Years of Age, named Crispus, 6 feet 2 inches high, short cur'l hair, his knees nearer together than common."
Attucks father was said to be an African and his mother a Natick or Nantucket Indian; in colonial America, the offspring of black and Indian parents were considered black or mulatto. As a slave in Framingham, he had been known for his skill in buying and selling cattle.
Brown offered a reward for the man's return, and ended with the following admonition: "And all Matters of Vessels and others, are hereby cautioned against concealing or carrying off said Servant on Penalty of Law. " Despite Brown's warning, Attucks was carried off on a vessel many times over the next twenty years; he became a sailor, working on a whaling crew that sailed out of Boston harbor. At other times he worked as a ropemaker in Boston.
Attucks' occupation made him particularly vulnerable to the presence of the British. As a seaman, he felt the ever-present danger of impressment into the British navy. As a laborer, he felt the competition from British troops, who often took part-time jobs during their off-duty hours and worked for lower wages.
A research grant to study slavery and the Underground Railroad in Kentucky inspired, "A Promise Moon." I alluded to, or drew inspiration from my findings as I wrote my latest novel which is set during the Civil War. RESEARCH FINDINGS