Dr. Joseph Warren sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their midnight ride to warn Lexington and Concord that the government was coming to seize their guns.
The British were also headed to Pastor Jonas Clarke’s home to arrest two anti-government activists: Tea Party leader Samuel Adams and businessman John Hancock, who was targeted by the king’s tax collectors, having had his ship Liberty confiscated.
Dr. Joseph Warren, born June 11, 1741 was a Harvard graduate and a successful doctor in Boston. He left his medical career when the British passed the hated Stamp Act of 1765. After the Boston Tea Party, King George III decided in 1774 to punished the colonists by enacting Intolerable Acts:
- The Boston Port Act, March 30, 1774, which closed the port of Boston on June 1, 1774, until the East India Company had been repaid for the tea destroyed in the Boston Tea Party
- The Quartering Act, June 2, 1774, allowed a governor to house British soldiers in private American homes
- The Massachusetts Government Act, May 20, 1774, which unilaterally altered the government of Massachusetts to bring it under control of the British government, replacing Massachusetts’ elected officials with royal appointees, and severely limiting town meetings
- The Administration of Justice Act, May 20, 1774, which George Washington called the “Murder Act,” which allowed the governor to move trials to another colony or Britain where few colonists could afford to leave their work and cross the ocean to testify, effectively allowing British officials to get away with murder
- The Quebec Act, June 22, 1774, extending the boundaries of British Quebec south to the Ohio River and west to the Mississippi, transferring western lands previously claimed by the colonies to a non-representative government and removed references to the Protestant faith in the oath of allegiance
In protest, Dr. Joseph Warren and Samuel Adams organized the Massachusetts Provincial Congress.
In September of 1774, Dr. Joseph Warren wrote the Suffolk Resolves, urging Massachusetts to establish a free state, boycott British goods, form militias and no longer be loyal to a king who violates their rights: “Whereas … the vengeance but not the wisdom of Great Britain, which of old persecuted, scourged, and exiled our fugitive parents from their native shores, now pursues us, their guiltless children, with unrelenting severity. … It is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity, by all lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend and preserve those civil and religious rights and liberties, for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations.”
Dr. Joseph Warren became president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, April of 1775. In June of 1775, as British ships entered Boston’s harbor, 34-year-old Dr. Joseph Warren joined the militia. Though appointed a Major General by the Provincial Congress, Dr. Warren chose to serve as a private, acknowledging that General Israel Putnam and Colonel William Prescott had more military experience.
On June 17, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren asked to be placed where the heaviest fighting would be and Putnam pointed to Bunker Hill. He fought in the redoubt, repelling the British soldiers, till he ran out of ammunition. The British made a third and final assault on the hill, and Dr. Joseph Warren was killed instantly by a musket ball in the head. The British stripped his body, bayoneted it until it was unrecognizable, then shoved it into a ditch.
Ten months later, Paul Revere helped identify his remains by examining an artificial tooth he had placed in his jaw. A monument marks where Dr. Joseph Warren died.
Dr. Joseph Warren’s younger brother, Dr. John Warren, served as a surgeon at the Battle of Bunker Hill and later helped found Harvard Medical School. Three years earlier, Dr. Joseph Warren delivered an address in Boston, March 5, 1772, to commemorate the second anniversary of the Boston Massacre: “If you perform your part, you must have the strongest confidence that the same Almighty Being who protected your pious and venerable forefathers, who enabled them to turn a barren wilderness into a fruitful field, who so often made bare His arm for their salvation, will still be mindful of you, their offspring. …”
Dr. Warren concluded: “May this Almighty Being graciously preside in all our councils. May He direct us to such measures as He Himself shall approve, and be pleased to bless. May our land be a land of liberty, the seat of virtue, the asylum of the oppressed, a name and a praise in the whole earth, until the last shock of time shall bury the empires of the world in one common undistinguishable ruin!”
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