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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > African Americans 1780-1820 > African Americans
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.

African Americans : Revolution


Were it not for his role in the Boston Massacre, most people would likely never have heard of Crispus Attucks. Attucks was a former slave who had escaped from a master in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1750. He was both African American and Native American, of the Natick group. Attucks, whose name in the Natick language means deer, came to Boston and joined the many free Blacks and Native Americans working in the maritime trades. The urban setting and large numbers of people of color working on the docks offered a welcome degree of anonymity to fugitives like Attucks. Tall and powerfully built, Attucks worked for the next twenty years as a sailor, often using the name Michael Johnson as an alias.

In the years leading up to the American Revolution, Revolutionary leaders like Samuel Adams and John Hancock successfully mobilized sailors and dock workers to protest, sometimes violently, against England's colonial taxation and trade policies. Crispus Attucks was one of many Boston maritime men who were part of the unrest of the 1760s and 1770s between England and her North American colonies.

Crispus Attucks was fifty-one years old when he helped to lead a crowd of several hundred angry Bostonians who surrounded British sentries at the Boston Customs House on March 5, 1770. Attucks was one of nine men and boys killed when the panicky soldiers fired into the hostile crowd. He and the eight other victims were instant martyrs to the American cause. Their names became household words. Patriots faithfully commemorated the "Boston Massacre" annually in the years leading up to the American Revolution. Attucks' role in this crucial event raises important questions about people of color in Revolutionary New England culture and society.


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Engraving "The Bloody Massacre perpetrated on King Street, Boston on March 5th, 1770"

artist   Paul Revere (1735-1818)
date   1770
location   Boston, Massachusetts
width   9.31"
height   10.5"
process/materials   engraved, paper and ink print
item type   Art/Engraving
accession #   #CRR.B.28

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See Also...

"An Old Custom" -The Liberty Pole of Deerfield 1774

"Bloody Butchery, By The British Troops; Or The Runaway Fight Of The Regulars"

Flintlock long fowler

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