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Reply #35: Crispus Attucks [View All]

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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-06-06 01:57 PM
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35. Crispus Attucks
allegedly, the first person to die in the Boston "Massacre" for American liberty from the British; also considered the first American "martyr". I deliberately placed "allegedly" and the other quotation marks to note two major points: the aforementioned incident was hardly a massacre in the true sense of the word (5 dead), and, like most events leading up to the American Revolution, has reached mythical status. The patriot press was totally partisan and objectivity was in short supply when reporting about the British. Sam Adams used the incident for propaganda, along with Paul Revere's famous woodcut, anointing the dead as heroes and martyrs. The racial segregation rules for burial were suspended so that Attucks and the other four dead (who were Samuel Gray, James Caldwell, Samuel Maverick, and Patrick Carr) could all be buried together as the honored dead.

Attucks is remembered only as the first death for liberty. That is the height of irony because the same liberty for which he is remembered, rightly or wrongly, was denied him while alive. He was skilled herdsman, especially adept at buying and selling cattle. He was so skilled that he could not purchase his freedom, his master deemed him too valuable to let go. He ran away to sea, working as a sailor and related jobs. This was just as hazardous to his liberty because of an escaped slave bounty on his head and impressment by the British Navy. How he came to be involved that night is open to speculation. Attucks was implicated as the head of a mob of sailors and lead instigator of the riot according to Sam Adams' trial speech for the defense of the British soldiers who fired on the crowd. Did he really lead a mob that night? No one can say for sure. (Writer's note: Then, as now, blame the black guy. :eyes: ) Later propaganda elevated Attacks and the others from riotous thugs to heroes for liberty. Most of the articles I've read imply that Attucks and the other four men were unlucky members of a riotous crowd.

This entry is to show that in a country with a racial caste system, even then, like now, people of color were more respected, even more honored, dead, rather than alive.

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