Boston Massacre / Crispus Attucks Monument
The Freedom Trail merges with the Black Heritage Trail on Oliver Wendell Holmes Walk in the Boston Common. Here, a monument commemorates the events of March 5, 1770, when British soldiers, later to be successfully defended by John Adams, shot down five Bostonians. Crispus Attucks is the best known of these five. He is widely hailed as a hero of the American Revolution, although little information about him can be verified. According to some reports, Attucks was of African and Native American descent and had fled to Boston after escaping his enslavers. Attucks’ grave is located in the nearby Granary Burying Ground.
At the column’s base, a bronze plaque illustrates the infamous event. Its two central figures are sculpted in high relief, meaning that parts of the figures are three-dimensional and jut out significantly from the background. You may notice that one figure’s hand is shinier than the surrounding bronze. It has been polished by visitors reaching out to touch it.
A figure representing the Spirit of the Revolution presides over the monument. She triumphantly displays a broken chain to symbolize liberty, as well as an American flag. With one foot, she steps on the crown of the British monarchy, and next to her other foot, an eagle prepares to take flight. Her exposed breast and outstretched arm evoke the main figure in Eugène Delacroix’s iconic painting Liberty Guiding the People, a powerful symbol of the French Revolution that the sculptor, Robert Kraus, would have known.