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Attucks, Crispus, An Indian-negro half-blood of Framingham, Mass., near Boston, noted as the leader and first person slain in the Boston massacre of Mar. 5, 1770, the first hostile encounter between the Americans and the British troops, and therefore regarded by historians as the opening fight of the great Revolutionary struggle.
In consequence of the resistance of the people of Boston to the enforcement of the recent tax laws a detachment of British troops had been stationed in the town, to the great irritation of the citizens.
On Mar. 5 this feeling culminated in an attack on the troops in front of the old State House, by a crowd made up largely of sailors, and said to have been led by Attucks, although this assertion has been denied by some. The troops retaliated by firing into the party, killing four men, of whom Attucks was the first to fall.
A monument to his memory was erected in Boston Common by the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1888. Although the facts in regard to his personality are disputed, the evidence goes to show that Attucks was a sailor, almost a giant in stature, the son of a negro father and all Indian mother of Framingham, or the neighboring village of Natick, formerly the principal Indian mission settlement of Massachusetts.
The name Attucks, derived from his mother, appears to be the Natick (Massachuset) ahtuk, or attuks, 'small deer.' See G. Bancroft, Hist. U. S.; Appleton's Encyclop. Am. Biog.; Am. Hist. Rec., I, Nov. 1872.