Crispus Attucks (1723? - March 5, 1770) was the first American to die for the Revolutionary cause: "The first to defy, the first to die." Attucks was shot in the "Boston Massacre," the first fight leading up to the Revolutionary War.
Attucks was the American son of a native African father and a woman belonging to the Natick Indian tribe. As a young adult, Attucks escaped his "owner" in Framingham, Massachusetts, and went to sea as a whaler and worked as a ropemaker in Boston, Massachusetts. He learned to read and write, and studied government. Attucks went to many anti-British meetings to discuss unfair taxes; he wrote to Governor Thomas Hutchinson (the Tory governor of Massachusetts) to protest these taxes. On March 5, 1770, Attucks and other Patriots (Colonists who were against British rule) fought with the Red Coats (British soldiers) at Dock Square in Boston in an unofficial skirmish. Attucks was the first of five people to die in the fight. The soldier who shot the Patriots were tried for murder, but most were acquitted (the future US President John Adams was the lawyer for the British soldiers); the acquittals further enraged the people of Boston.
As the first person to die for the American Revolutionary cause, Attucks was buried with honor in the Park Street cemetery in Boston. "Crispus Attucks Day" was begun by black abolitionists in 1858; in 1888, the Crispus Attucks Monument was built in the Boston Common.