CRISPUS ATTUCKS


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 fight between Boston ropemakers and three British soldiers on Friday, March 2, 1770 set the stage for a later confrontation. That following Monday night, tensions escalated when a soldier entered a pub to look for work, and instead found a group of angry seamen that included Attucks.

That evening a group of about thirty, described by John Adams as "a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs," began taunting the guard at the custom house with snowballs, sticks and insults. Seven other redcoats came to the lone soldier's rescue, and Attucks was one of five men killed when they opened fire.

Patriots, pamphleteers and propagandists immediately dubbed the event the "Boston Massacre," and its victims became instant martyrs and symbols of liberty. Despite laws and customs regulating the burial of blacks, Attucks was buried in the Park Street cemetery along with the other honored dead.

The citizens of Boston observed the anniversary of the Boston Massacre in each of the following years leading up to the war. In ceremonies designed to stir revolutionary fervor, they summoned the "discontented ghosts" of the victims."

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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

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