African Americans in the Revolutionary War
Courtesy of New York Historical Society.
Perhaps the most famous martyr of the American Revolution, Crispus Attucks was the first of five men killed in Boston on 12 March 1770, when soldiers fired into a mob protesting the British military presence in the city. Notwithstanding his role as one of the leaders of an angry mob, Attucks quickly became a hero of "The Boston Massacre," whose murder at the hands of the tyrannical British became a rallying cry for patriots throughout Massachusetts and in the other colonies. Few details of his life are certain. Generally regarded as having mixed ancestry (African, Native American, and white), he may have been an escaped slave and was possibly a crewman on a Nantucket whaler docked in Boston harbor at the time of the Massacre. Regardless of the uncertainty about his past, Attucks remains one of the most famous figures from the tumultuous years on the eve of the Revolution.