Case Study



Boston Tea Party Historical Society

Thomas Crafts Jr.

Thomas Crafts (1740-1799) was a painter tradesman who participated in the Boston Tea Party. During the Revolutionary War he rose to the Colonel rank and commanded the artillery unit where Paul Revere served. He is believed to have been on of the people who made the Mohawk disguise worn by other participants. He was also a vegetarian.

Thomas Crafts Jr. was born in Boston, MA and grew up in his family house on Back St. (now Salem St.) in North End, just a block away from Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church. He learned a trade of decorative painter (japanner). Not surprising that having grown up together with other famous patriots and sharing the same professional field he soon found himself in the midst of revolutionary protests, many of which later became known as the landmarks of American Revolution.

His first significant action was participation in the “Loyal Nine”, the group of patriots formed to protest the Stamp Act by driving out stamp distributors from the city. The Loyal Nine club was formed in August 1765 and in December it started callings itself the Sons of Liberty.

Crafts was one of the patriots who in August 14, 1765 hanged the effigy of Andrew Oliver, distributor of stamps for Massachusetts from a giant elm tree at the crossing of Essex and Orange Streets in the city’s South End. The elm tree later became known as the "Liberty Tree".

He also testified during the Boston Massacre trial.

Despite being one of the key figures in the Sons of Liberty Crafts was known as a moderate. In 1772 he was even accused of becoming a Tory, a British loyalist for his arguments against the most confrontational acts.

Like many other sons of liberty Col. Thomas Crafts also took an active interest in Masonic affairs. He became a member of St. Andrew's Lodge F. and A. M. in 1762, and afterwards became a member of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

On December 16, 1773 Thomas Crafts took part in the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor. His participation first came to light years later when Frederic W. Lincoln, Jr, the eighteenths mayor of Boston (1858–1866) spoke out about participation of his grandfather, Captain Amos Lincoln in this protest. According to his account, Amos Lincoln then a young man was the apprentice of Thomas Crafts and said that he obtained the Mohawk dress from Mr. Crafts who was in the Harbor with the other Sons of Liberty that night.

The military training of the former painter started when he joined the now famous artillery unit of the Boston’s militia that was commanded by Major Paddock and was naturally known as the Paddock’s Artillery Co. Among the militia men being part of this unit that consisted of skilled mechanics (craftsmen) was a great achievement. It was in the Paddock’s company where Crafts received his first officer rank of Lieutenant and became the third in command. The company had four small brass cannon and now two of them can be seen at the base of Bunker Hill Monument. They bear the names "Hancock" and "Adams."

To modern historians Mr. Crafts is most known for his participation in the Boston Tea Party, but his contemporaries were the most appreciative for his role as the commander of the Massachusetts militia artillery during the first years of the war. As the Colonel for the Massachusetts Regiment of Artillery, also known as “the Train” he greatly helped the cause of the Revolution by successfully defending the port of Boston from the British vessels. On 13th of June 1776 under the command of Gen. Benjamin Lincoln he drove the enemy’s ships out of Boston Harbor and lead to the capture of several ships and 700 British regulars.

In a letter written by Samuel Adams to his cousin, Col. Crafts family was mentioned as one of the former Sons of Liberty tradesmen families who rose in Boston’s society to become the new nobility. As such he was honored by being the first person to read the newly signed Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House in Boston in a 1776 ceremony.

After the Revolution Colonel Crafts continued serving people of Boston as selectman and Justice of the Peace and active Justice for many years after the war.

Thomas Crafts married in Boston 30 June, 1763, Frances Pickeny Gore, daughter of John and Frances (Pinkney) Gore of Boston, and sister of Governor Christopher Gore. She was born in Boston 3 Feb. 1744, and died there in 1788.

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