Intolerable Acts, Dr. Joseph Warren, & the Suffolk Resolves

Bill Federer

Dr. Joseph Warren was born JUNE 11, 1741.

He enrolled in Harvard at age 14, and by 22, he was the youngest doctor in Boston.

His reputation spread, with some notable patients being: Sam Adams, John Hancock, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and even the children of British Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson and British General Thomas Gage.

Dr. Warren left his medical career when the British passed the hated Stamp Act of 1765.

On March 5, 1770, the Boston Massacre took place.

On December 16, 1773, the Boston Tea Party occurred.

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."

Paul Revere was chosen to deliver the Suffolk Resolves to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When the Suffolk Resolves were endorsed by the Continental Congress on September 17, 1774, John Adams wrote in his diary:

"This was one of the happiest days of my life. In Congress we had generous, noble sentiments, and manly eloquence. This day convinced me that America will support Massachusetts or perish with her."

The King ordered British General Thomas Gage to bring Massachusetts into submission.

Gage tried to outlaw the numerous "town hall meetings" and silence their rebellious "resolutions."

Gage wrote: "democracy is too prevalent in America."

Dr. Warren sent Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen to capture Fort Ticonderoga.

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 soldiers, under orders from British General Thomas Gage, were headed to Pastor Jonas Clarke's parsonage 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.

Rev. Jonas Clarke's parsonage had been built by John Hancock's grandfather, who was the previous pastor there.

Dr. Joseph Warren became President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, April of 1775.

In June of 1775, British ships entered Boston's harbor, commanded by British General William Howe.

The 34-year-old Dr. Joseph Warren joined the Massachusetts 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.

The 1,054 British casualties from the battle resulted in British General Thomas Gage being recalled to England. He was replaced by British General William Howe.

Ten months after the Battle of Bunker Hill, Paul Revere helped identify the remains of Dr. Joseph Warren by examining an artificial tooth he had placed in his jaw.

A monument marks where Dr. Joseph Warren died.

So courageous and inspiring a leader was Warren, that in 1782, a loyalist Peter Oliver, wrote that had Warren survived, Washington would have been “an obscurity.”

British Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson speculated:

“If (Warren) had lived, he bid as fair as any man to advance himself to the summit of political as well as military affairs and to become the Cromwell of North America.”

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.

A very distant relative was Massachusetts House Speaker James Warren, whose wife, Mercy Otis Warren, was called "The Conscience of the American Revolution" because of her patriotic correspondence with American leaders.

Three years before his death, 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!"