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Thomas Crafts

Colonel Thomas Crafts was not only an accomplice in the Boston Tea Party, but was also a part of many other historical events that contributed to American success in the Revolutionary War. Crafts was born in 1740 in Boston, Massachusetts on what is now known as Salem Street, just a block away from the house of Paul Revere and the Old North Church. From an early age he learned the trade of a “japanner”, or decorative painter, and showed immense skill in this profession. He grew up around many other patriots who shared the same field as he did; he soon found himself caught up in the midst of revolutionary ideas and movements. Like many other men of his views, he took an active interest in Masonic affairs. He became a member of St. Andrew’s lodge in 1762 and later became a member of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Both of these associations, dedicated to promoting and preserving Masonic principle, still exist today. His first act of patriotism occurred when he joined the “Loyal Nine”, a revolutionary group formed in August of 1765. The Loyal Nine originally formed to protest the Stamp Act by driving away all stamp distributors from the city. It was only four months after this association was born that it morphed into the Sons of Liberty, December of 1765. Despite being a pivotal figure in the Sons of Liberty, he was accused of being a Tory [a British loyalist] because of his hesitation to use violence in their proceedings. Ignoring the accusation, Crafts moved on to testify in the Boston Massacre trial. He was also one of the men who hung the effigy of Andrew Oliver, a distributor of stamps, on a giant elm tree at the crossing of Essex and Orange Streets; this tree was later known as the “Liberty Tree”. It was on December 16, 1773, that Thomas Crafts participated in the Boston Tea Party. Not only did he dispose of the tea himself, but also he supplied the Mohawk dress and delivered it to Sarah Bradlee Fulton. He later joined the artillery unit of the Boston militia, commanded by Major Paddock [know as Paddock’s Artillery Company]. It was in this company that Crafts achieved his first officer rank of lieutenant and subsequently became third in command. This militia group was in possession of four brass cannons; two of which are on display at the Bunker Hill Monument. As Colonel for the Massachusetts Regiment of Artillery [known as “The Train”], he strengthened the cause of the Revolutionary War by successfully defending Boston’s port from British vessel advancement. Under the command of General Benjamin Lincoln he drove Britain’s ships out of the Boston Harbor. This led to the capture of several British ships and 700 British regulars. Samuel Adams later recognized the Crafts family’s great contributions to the war; Thomas received the honor of being the first person to read the fully and newly signed Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House in Boston, 1776. Even after the war, Thomas Crafts continued to serve the country he fought for by becoming Boston’s selectman, Justice of the Peace, and active Justice for many years. He died in 1799 at the age of 59.


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