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Title: Stories about General Warren,
 - in relation to the fifth of March massacre, and the battle of Bunker Hill
Author: Brown, Rebecca Warren
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories about General Warren,
 - in relation to the fifth of March massacre, and the battle of Bunker Hill" ***

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[Illustration: When Gen. Warren's mother first saw him after his escape
from the Battle of Lexington, she entreated him, with tears in her eyes,
not again to risk a life so dear to her, and so necessary to his
country. "Wherever danger is, dear mother," was his reply, "there must
your son be, now is no time for _one_ of America's children to shrink
from the most hazardous duty. I will either see my country _free_, or
shed my last drop of blood to make her so...." p. 51.]





Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1835,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


The author of the following little sketch has often heard the question
asked, "What did Gen. Warren do to deserve all that has been said about
him?" "Did he do any thing more than fight bravely, and get killed on
the day of the battle of Bunker Hill?" To answer these questions, and to
show, that although it was _much_ for him to sacrifice his life for his
country, yet that was not _all_ he did; that he had toiled nobly for
many years in her cause, before a drop of blood had been shed to
accomplish her freedom, has been the principal object in writing it.

For some of the facts, she is indebted to those who have before written
on the subject; but many of them have never before been published; nor
does she think any but the closing one of his death is very generally

Another object has been, to place the leading causes of the Revolution
in so strong and clear a light, and in such simple language, that every
child may comprehend them as soon as he can read.

It has also been her design so to delineate the leading traits of Gen.
Warren's character, as to show that his patriotism was not a sudden
start of enthusiasm, but had long been a guiding principle of action.

If the writer has succeeded in deepening in any young mind, the
impression of the debt of gratitude we owe the authors of our free
institutions, or if the following pages should lead any one to think and
read more on the subject, she will feel amply rewarded for all the
trouble bestowed on them.


As Mary Montague and her mother were one morning sitting at work, by a
cheerful fire, William, a boy about nine years old, ran in exclaiming,
Oh dear mother! I'm so tired I don't know what to do.

MRS. MONTAGUE. Why, my son, what has tired you so much?

WILLIAM. I have been playing hoop more than an hour, and my hands ache
so I can play no longer.

MRS. M. Then you had better come and sit down with Mary and me and rest

WILLIAM. Yes, mamma, I will, if you can lend me some pretty book, or
tell me a story; there is no school to-day, you know.

MRS. M. I have no book which you have not read, nor can I put aside my
work to amuse you, but I can tell you a story and work too.

WILLIAM. So do, mamma, I shall like that best.

MARY. And I too, dear mother.

MRS. M. What shall I tell you about? Shall I tell you a true story, or
do you wish me to make up one?

WILLIAM. I should rather hear a true one, if you please, about some
great man. Some American, for I had rather hear about one of my own
countrymen, than about a foreigner, as I think you call those who live
in other countries, do you not?

MRS. M. Yes, my dear.

WILLIAM. You know I have had books about a great many of our celebrated
men, such as Gen. Washington, Gen. Lafayette, and Franklin. Now I want
you to tell me what you can of Gen. Warren. Was he not a great and good
man? I should think he must have been, for I have heard people speak of
him very often, when talking of the revolution; I know, too, that great
monument on Bunker Hill is partly for him, but I do not know what he did
to deserve so much praise.

MRS. M. I believe, my dear, there has never been any little books
written about him, but he was both a great and a good man, though he did
not live long enough to do so much for his country as those other
generals of whom you have read. If you wish, I will tell you all I can
of him.

WILLIAM. Oh, so do! I want to hear it very much.

MARY. So do I.

MRS. M. You spoke just now, William, of Lafayette as though you thought
him an American. Do you not know he was a Frenchman?

WILLIAM. Yes, mamma, I know that very well, but he did so much for us I
can hardly help thinking he belonged to us.

MRS. M. I do not much wonder at that, for he could not have done more,
nor even so much, if he had indeed been an American. Come, now for
General Warren. Shall I begin at the time when he was a child like you,
or at that in which he became a general?

WILLIAM AND MARY, both together. Oh pray begin when he was a child like

MRS. M. I cannot tell you a great deal about him at that time. I only
know that he was born in Roxbury, in the year 1741. Roxbury is a small
town a few miles from Boston. I have no doubt you often ride by the old
house in which Joseph (for that was the name of the general) and his
three brothers were born. It has now almost fallen to pieces, but it was
once a beautiful place, and had a great many fine fruit trees round it.
The father of Joseph was quite a rich farmer; he raised the best fruit
of any one near Boston. Do you remember seeing last winter an apple with
a fine blush on one side, called the Warren russeting?

WILLIAM. Yes, mother, I think I do.

MRS. M. Joseph's father was the first person who cultivated this apple,
and it received its name from him: but alas! it cost him and his family
very dear.

WILLIAM. How, mamma?

MRS. M. I will tell you. One day, in the fall of the year, when almost
all the apples were gathered, Mr. Warren, the father of Joseph, while
walking round his orchard to see if every thing in it was in good order,
as he was looking over the trees he perceived one apple on the top of
his favorite tree, the Warren russeting; it looked so beautiful, with
the sun gilding its rosy side, that he determined to get it. He was a
very active man; so up he climbed until his hand was on the apple, when,
just as he had pulled it off, the branch on which he was standing, gave
way, he fell to the ground and was instantly killed!

WILLIAM. Oh dear, how long did he lay there, mamma?

MRS. M. Not long; some of his workmen, who were near, heard the noise of
the fall, and directly went to see what it was.

His youngest son, whose name was John, was then only four years old:
dinner was ready at home, and the mother of little John told him to run
into the orchard, and see why his father did not come in to dinner: away
he went, and, as he was looking eagerly to see if his father was
coming, he saw two men carrying something between them: he ran up to
them to see what it was, and, only think of it! it was the body of that
dear father whose affectionate embrace he was expecting every moment to
meet! Those eyes, which had so often beamed on him with love, were
closed in death, and the arms, so often held out to embrace him, hung
motionless at his side!

MARY. Oh, how I pity the poor boy, he must have felt dreadfully!

MRS. M. Dreadfully indeed! When he grew up to be a man I often heard him
say, that, young as he then was, the feelings of that moment could never
be effaced from his mind.

WILLIAM. I should think he never could have forgotten it.

MRS. M. I have now told you about the father of Joseph; shall I tell you
any thing about his mother, or go on about him?

WILLIAM. If you please, I should like to hear about his mother. I always
feel more interested in any one, when I am acquainted with his father
and mother.

MARY. And I too love dearly to hear about them, especially I want to
know all I can of the mother of any one I hear of, or read about.

MRS. M. I will tell you all I can of her. Like Washington, Joseph was
blessed with a most excellent mother; she, too, was like the mother of
Washington, left a widow when even the oldest of her sons most required
a parent's care. Her husband, you recollect, was killed when the
youngest boy was only four years old. The eldest was about twelve years
older. The task of a parent, though a delightful, is a very arduous one,
and when that of both parents must be discharged by one, it is much more
so. It often happens that a mother is left with a family of young
children, and is obliged to bring them up without the controlling power
of a father's care; it is therefore the duty of every female so to
educate her own mind, and that of her daughters, as to enable her, if
she should be placed in this responsible situation, to be able to guide
aright the minds of those under her care. Indeed, a mother should always
possess a cultivated mind, and a firm principle of action, to render
her capable of doing such a duty faithfully. The bent which she gives to
the dawning character is seldom effaced through the whole existence of
an immortal being. I hope, therefore, my children, more especially you,
my daughter, will constantly remember, that unless you attend most
carefully to the formation of your own hearts and minds, you will never
be competent to form those of others, and that you are in some measure
responsible for the good or evil of the characters it may be your lot to
form. I trust, too, you will feel that much of the good you may
yourselves possess is owing to your parents, who have, as far as they
could, guarded you from evil, and led you in the right path, and to
whom, therefore, you owe obedience and gratitude, and an earnest
endeavor to show, by your conduct, that their labor has not been in
vain. Most faithfully did the mother of Joseph discharge the double duty
which had now devolved on her. Her four boys, under her watchful eye,
grew up to be good, wise, and, most of them, celebrated men, and richly
repaid all her care of them. But not only as a mother was she
estimated, for she practised the virtue of benevolence, in the fullest
sense of the word. To her neighbors she was kind and hospitable; to the
poor her house was always open. Indeed, it might with truth be said of
her, in the words of that beautiful poet, Goldsmith, whose works I trust
you will soon learn to read and admire:

     "Her house was known to all the vagrant train,
     She chid their wanderings, but reliev'd their pain.
     The long remember'd beggar was her guest,
     And oft the traveller at her board found rest.
     Gentle their merits or their faults to scan,
     Her pity gave e'er charity began."

In her old age, when her own children had left her fire-side to take
their part in the active scenes of life, it was one of her dearest
pleasures to gather a group of their children, and the children of
others around her. She did all in her power to promote their enjoyment,
and her benevolent smile was always ready to enliven and encourage them.
On Thanksgiving day she depended on having all her children and
grand-children with her; and until she was eighty years of age, she
herself made the pies with which her table was loaded! Not satisfied
with feasting them to their hearts' content, while they were with her,
she always had some nice great pies for them to take home with them.

MARY. What a fine old lady she must have been! How I should have admired
to have gone to see her!

MRS. M. She was indeed a most excellent woman. As far as one imperfect
being can judge of another, she appeared to deserve to be classed among
those whom Christ, in his sermon on the Mount, pronounced blessed. She
was often called to mourn, and she was comforted by his word; she was
"meek" and "humble," for, much as she did for others, she thought she
did nothing worthy to be mentioned. Truly did she appear to hunger and
thirst after righteousness. That she was "merciful," I have already told
you. She was "pure in heart," as an infant. As a "peacemaker," she was
more especially known. If there was any dispute among her friends,
relations, neighbors, or acquaintances, to her they carried their
troubles and their complaints. Even their evil feelings towards others
were not concealed from her. She soothed their troubles, pacified their
complaints, and their evil feelings and jealousies she changed into
kindness and good will. If she was reviled she reviled not again, and
though her good was often evil spoken of, it did not make her weary in
well doing. Those who knew her trust she is now reaping the reward
promised to those that "faint not," and are not weary in well doing.

MARY. I think she must now be happy, dear mother, or no one can expect
to be.

MRS. M. We have every reason to believe that she is, my dear girl.

Now let us go back to Joseph. He was her eldest son. He was educated at
the public school in Roxbury. Like Washington, he displayed in childhood
the qualities which afterwards rendered him so celebrated as a man. He
was manly, generous, fearless and independent. If one boy oppressed
another, he would always take the part of the weakest, and generally
succeeded in making the little tyrant ashamed of himself.

WILLIAM. Did not all the boys like him, mamma? I am sure I should have
liked him.

MRS. M. Yes, my dear, all the good boys liked him, and, what was still
better, the masters all liked him. You may be pretty sure that a boy or
girl either is deserving of love, if their instructers are attached to
them. His mind was so well regulated, that, although he would not submit
to tyranny, he was respectful and obedient to those who had a right to
govern him. And this was his rule of conduct through his after life. At
the age of fourteen, Joseph entered college. Here the same good feelings
which had marked his character at school, continued to govern him. His
manners were gentle, and he had the reputation of possessing fine
talents, great perseverance, and an entire fearlessness of danger, when
accomplishing that which he thought to be right.

One day some of his classmates had determined to do something of which
they knew he would not approve. They met together to arrange their plans
for its execution. They did not wish Warren to be with them, for they
knew his powers of persuasion were so great that he would, if present,
prevail on the greatest part of them not to enter into these plans. They
therefore fastened the door of the room, in which they were, so that he
could not get it open. But he did not give up the matter so easily. They
were assembled in an upper room; and finding he could not get in at the
door, Warren went down into the college yard. As he looked up he saw
their window was open. Now how do you think he managed?

WILLIAM. I am sure I cannot tell, mamma. Did he climb up to it?

MRS. M. No, he could not do that, it was very high, and there was not
any thing to climb upon. He could see nothing near the window but an old
spout, which went from the ground to the eaves, or top, of the house;
this spout was so rotten it would hardly bear a touch, much less the
whole weight of any one.

MARY. He could not get in on that then. Do make haste, dear mother, and
tell us if he did get in, and how he contrived to.

MRS. M. I will, my child, as soon as I can. He again went up stairs to
the scuttle door, which was on the top of the house; out of this he got,
slid down the slanting roof to the edge of the house, just where the old
spout came up to it; he then seized hold of this spout, swung himself
upon it, and slid down as far as the window of the room, where his
classmates were, then in he sprang among them, to their great surprise,
as you may well suppose. The instant he let go the decayed thing on
which he had descended, it broke to pieces and fell to the ground. His
companions heard the crash, rushed to the window, and while they were
uttering exclamations of astonishment at the risk he had run, and
congratulating him on his narrow escape, he very coolly replied, "it has
stayed up just long enough to serve my purpose," he then directly
entered upon the business which had brought them together.

WILLIAM. What a brave fellow he was. How glad I am it did not break
while he was on it!

MARY. I hardly breathed for fear it would. I hope he succeeded in
preventing those young men from doing what they had intended.

MRS. M. I hope so too, and I think it probable he did. After such a
proof of his determination and perseverance, they must have felt it was
useless to oppose him.

A gentleman who saw him at the moment he was coming from the top of the
house, on the spout, related the fact, in the college yard, fifty years
afterwards, pointing, at the same time, to the very spot on which he saw
him. It had made so deep an impression on him, that, even at that
distance of time, he could not speak of it without emotion.

WILLIAM. Oh how I wish I could see the place. Do you think, mamma, any
body could show it to me now?

MRS. M. I do not know, my dear, if any one is now living who knows
exactly the place. I mean to inquire when I have an opportunity, for I
should like to see it myself.

MARY. So do mamma.

MRS. M. At the end of his collegiate education, Joseph quitted college
with the esteem and love of all who had known him there. He then
determined to study medicine. I suppose you know he was a physician
before he became a general.

WILLIAM. No, indeed, I did not: if I have heard it, I did not think
enough about it to remember it. Was he the celebrated Dr. Warren of whom
I have so often heard?

MRS. M. Do you mean the Dr. Warren now living?

WILLIAM. Oh no, mamma, I know it was not him, though I have heard a
great deal about him too; the one I mean died a great while before I was

MRS. M. The one you are thinking of was the youngest brother of the
general,--his name was John,--he whom I told you was the first one of
the family who saw his father when he was killed by the fall from the
tree. Do you not remember it?

WILLIAM. Yes, dear mother, I am sure I shall not forget him.

MRS. M. Joseph was an eminent physician as well as his brother. He began
to practice in Boston. Soon after he commenced business the small pox
spread all over the city, or town; for it was not then a city. We
hardly know any thing of this dreadful disease now-a-days; inoculation
has made it a very different one from what it then was. At that time
people had not much faith in this mode of lessening its violence, and
when it once entered a place, a great many people generally had it and
died with it. This was the case at the period of which I speak. Dr.
Joseph Warren was then only twenty-three years old, but he managed the
disease with so much judgment and skill that he restored more people,
who were attacked with it, than any other physician in Boston.

WILLIAM. How did the other doctors like that, dear mother?

MRS. M. They were all very glad he was so successful; and liked him the
better for it. His manners were so gentle and courteous, they could not
feel jealous of him. He always looked so pleasant, and was so
benevolent, that every body loved him. The hearts he won at this time
always remained warmly attached to him. His great talents, and the
superiority of his information secured the respect as well as love of
those who knew him. This was the reason he had so much influence over
others. His talents alone would not have given it to him; but when to
respect was added admiration and love, it gave him power to guide his
countrymen almost as he pleased.

When the King of England yielded to the counsels of those who told him
that, as we were his subjects, he had a right to make us pay him
whatever money he chose to demand, whether we chose to pay it or not,
General, then Dr. Warren, was one of the first to tell the people that
the king had no right to make us pay one single copper without our
consent; that he had not a right even to say what we ought to pay, but
ought to allow us to choose our own rulers, and let them decide what our
taxes should be.

MARY. What are taxes, dear mother?

MRS. M. Taxes are monies paid for the support of those who govern us.
You know that every city and town makes choice of men whom they can
trust, to meet together to say what and how much these taxes shall be.
Now it was not possible that we should send men every year to England,
to meet with the rulers there, to agree on what we ought to pay, and,
unless we did, we should be taxed unjustly. Therefore the only way to be
taxed fairly, was to choose people ourselves to tax us. The king would
neither let us say what we ought to pay, nor would he let us say who
should govern us. He insisted on our suffering men whom he sent over, to
govern us; and he obliged us to pay them, even though they oppressed us.

WILLIAM. What a shame! I do not wonder our people determined not to
submit to it.

MRS. M. The people were so much attached to the king and their mother
country, as England was always called, that they would not have resisted
this; at least not so early after their settlement in this country, had
the king stopped here. But he chose, notwithstanding all our
remonstrances and petitions, to continue to impose taxes without our
consent. We could hardly buy an article which came from England, that we
did not have to pay for it more than its worth, so that the king might
have part of the money. As almost every thing we consumed was brought
from England, this tax of course bore very heavy on a young country. But
still this was not the reason it was resisted; it was because it was
unjust to impose any taxes on a free people, without their consent. Gen.
Warren endeavored, with all the powers of his vigorous mind, to make the
people understand their rights. His arguments, and those of others who
thought like him, had so far convinced them of the necessity of
resisting these taxes, that, when a cargo of tea arrived at the port of
Boston, on every pound of which there was a heavy duty, a number of
people, disguised in Indian dresses, entered the vessel in the night
which contained it, broke open the chests of tea, and threw all that was
in them, into the water. They thus showed that they preferred to have
their families go without an article which was much valued by them,
rather than to pay for it by yielding, in the slightest degree, to an
act that would endanger their liberties. Their wives, so far from
repining at this deprivation, determined, from that moment, not to touch
a drop of their favorite beverage until they could have it free from

MARY. That was right. I am glad they did what they could to support
those brave men.

MRS. M. After this daring act, the king determined to make us submit _by
force_. He therefore sent over more soldiers to control us; he had
always kept some here; and he sent Gen. Gage to command _them_, and to
be our _Governor_. He also sent ships filled with armed men, to occupy
our harbour, and to prevent any other vessels from coming to our
assistance. Should you not think that the Boston people would now be
tempted to give up the point?

WILLIAM. Yes, mamma, I should; for I do not see how they could see any
prospect of gaining it with their town and their harbour filled with
British soldiers.

MRS. M. So far from giving it up, they only determined more strenuously
to endeavor to gain it. They would not suffer any of the British rulers
or judges to meet. They closed all the court houses where these men
wanted to meet, and decided all their disputes and difficulties
themselves: indeed, they were so determined not to need these courts,
that the utmost order and regularity reigned among them. Sometimes,
indeed, the British officers or the soldiers which thronged the streets
would exasperate the people so much, that they collected in mobs,
determined to avenge themselves on them. At such times Gen. Warren
repeatedly exposed his life in the midst of these mobs, to soothe them
and restrain them from acts of violence. His persuasive eloquence seldom
failed to bring them to their duty, and to make them ashamed of what
they were about to do. He would tell them that it was a very bad way to
show they could govern themselves, by committing acts which would let
every one see they had neither justice nor humanity; that while so many
good men were doing all in their power to free them from the oppression
of others, it was a great injury to the cause of freedom for them to
oppress in their turn; and thus to take upon themselves to both judge
and punish others without giving those whom they disliked an opportunity
to defend themselves. At first, the men who composed these mobs would
try to drive him away, and make a noise to prevent his being heard.
While they did this, he would stand calmly and look at them. His
intrepidity, his commanding and animated countenance, and, above all,
their knowledge that he was in reality on their side, as far as it was
right to be, would soon make them as eager to hear as he was to speak,
and, finally, they would disperse to their houses, with the most perfect
confidence that they could not do better than to leave their cause in
such hands.

Although Gen. Warren thus restrained the people from revenging the
insults of the British, he did not escape them himself. They took every
opportunity of calling him a _rebel_, and telling him, as they did all
those who were on his side, that he would meet the fate of a rebel, that
of being hung. You know there is a piece of land which connects Boston
to Roxbury, called the neck, do you not?

MARY. Yes, mamma, we often ride over it when we go to R--, do we not?

MRS. M. Yes, my dear. Formerly people were hung oftener and much more
publicly than at present. There was, therefore, a gallows erected on the
neck, on which to hang criminals, where every body could see them. One
day, Dr. Joseph Warren was going over to Roxbury, to visit his mother,
whom he loved very much; when he had gone over a little way on the neck
he came to a spot where three or four British officers were standing
together, talking, as he passed them, one of them called out "Go on,
Warren, you will soon come to the gallows." They meant he would soon
come to the gallows on the neck, but it was very evident they also meant
to insult him, as they burst into a loud laugh so soon as it was said.
Warren was not a man to submit to an insult from any one, least of all
from them. He immediately turned back, walked up to them, and calmly
requested to know which of them had thus addressed him. Not one of them
had the courage to avow his insolence. Finding he could obtain no
answer, he at last left them, ashamed of themselves and of each other,
but glad to have got off so easily.

WILLIAM. What a set of cowards! I wish Gen. Warren could have given them
a good flogging.

MRS. M. It would have been but what they deserved, to be sure. It
usually happens that those who are most ready to insult, where they
think no defence can be made, are the greatest cowards when called upon
to avow or defend what they have done.

Gen. Warren had so much power over the feelings of those whom he
addressed, that is, he was so _eloquent_, that he was several times
chosen, by those who were in favor of the cause of liberty, to address
the people from the pulpit, that a great many at a time might hear him.

Do you know anything about the 5th of March massacre, in which the first
American blood was shed by the British?

WILLIAM. Yes, mamma, we both know about it. We have read it in Parley's
First Book of History.

MRS. M. I am glad of it; that is a most excellent little history, and
contains a great deal you ought to remember. You know, then, that for
some years after that massacre, on every 5th of March there was an
oration delivered in the Old South meeting-house, to tell every body
that one injury after another had been inflicted on us by the British,
until the common people had become so angry that whenever they saw a
British soldier they wanted to insult him. By the way, I will stop here
a moment, to tell you of something which was done by one of the British
officers, which will show you that the people of Boston had some reason
to dislike them. The British were very much afraid that guns should be
procured by the Americans from their soldiers, and whenever they knew
that any American had bought a musket from one of their men, they
punished him severely. Some of the officers, however, were so eager to
have an excuse for punishing our men, that they would tempt them to buy
guns, on purpose to make a difficulty. One in particular, a Col. Nesbit,
ordered one of his men to offer an American, who had come in from the
country, an old musket, very cheap. The poor man, little suspecting any
trick, eagerly bought it. Col. Nesbit immediately took him up and
confined him all night in the guard house. The next morning he stripped
him entirely naked, covered him over with warm tar, then he put
feathers over that and placed him on a cart and conducted him through
Boston streets, quite up to the south end. He was guarded by thirty
grenadiers, with fixed bayonets; twenty drums and fifes accompanied
them, playing the "Rogues March," and the despicable Nesbit headed the
procession with his sword drawn.

WILLIAM. I think it was a "rogues march" indeed, dear mother, don't you?
But what became of the poor man, did not our people rescue him, and do
something to that wicked Colonel?

MRS. M. When they reached that part of Washington street where the
liberty tree then was, the people had become so excited, that the
cowardly Nesbit was glad to let his soldiers disperse, and he and they
skulked to their barracks as quick as they could. The unfortunate object
of their cruelty was of course liberated and taken care of.

WILLIAM. Oh how I wish they had caught Col. Nesbit, and tarred and
feathered him as he had the man!

MRS. M. It was much better to let him go. This conduct of his served
our cause better than any thing he could have done; and it would have
been a pity for us to have followed his example, and thus have lessened
the odium attached to him.

WILLIAM. I do not at all wonder, if such was the conduct of the British,
that our men felt angry whenever they met any of them.

MRS. M. Nor I. But to return to the 5th of March Orations. The great
subject of them was, the oppression of the British, and the quarrels
which were constantly taking place between their soldiers and ours, and
which it was impossible to avoid, while these oppressions were
permitted. The orators did not then urge the people to throw off the
government of Great Britain, they only explained their rights, and
called upon them not to give them up, but one and all to petition the
king to take away his soldiers and his governors from our country, and
permit us to choose rulers from among ourselves, and to form our own
soldiers. These petitions were accordingly repeatedly sent to the king,
but the more we petitioned the more soldiers he sent.

Gen. Warren delivered two of these orations. The first had so great an
effect on the people, that they determined to resort to arms if their
petitions were unsuccessful. Indeed, all these orations had such a
powerful influence on the hearers, that the British officers determined
there should be no more such. They declared it should be as much as a
person's life was worth to attempt again to deliver one. Many men who
would otherwise have been desirous to speak on the anniversary of the
massacre, now thought it most prudent to keep quiet. Though they would
have been quite willing to fight in defence of their country's
liberties, yet they thought that to get up and speak, surrounded with
soldiers and their bayonets, who were under the command of those who had
uttered such threats, would be much worse than to face their enemies
with arms in their hands.

WILLIAM. I should think so too. I am sure, if I saw men standing before
me ready to shoot me, or stick their bayonets into me, if I said any
thing they did not like, I should at least have forgotten all I had to

MRS. M. Gen. Warren did not think so. As the next 5th of March
approached, after these threats had been made, he did not wait to be
invited to speak on the occasion, but himself solicited permission to
address the people.

All his noble feelings were roused at the idea that men from another
country should presume to say what Americans should speak, and what they
should not; and he determined that his voice should be once more heard,
even should it then be silenced forever.

The sun shone on the 6th of March, 1775,[1] with unusual splendour.
Warren saw it rise, and as he gazed upon its brilliant rays, he thought
that perhaps ere those rays were again withdrawn from the earth, he
might be a breathless corpse, never more to behold them, but no regret
at the duty he had undertaken for a moment darkened his mind; he hailed
its cheering beams as a proof that Heaven itself smiled on his exertions
for his country's welfare.

At an early hour the Old South meeting-house was crowded even to its
porch. Many of the friends of the much loved speaker were there,
determined, if he was attacked, he should not be without his defenders.

The aisles of the meeting-house, the steps to the pulpit, even the
pulpit itself, were occupied by the British. Warren was not to be
frightened from his purpose by all this. He thought that if he attempted
to go in at the door and up the pulpit stairs, the British officers
might endeavor to stop him, and that, even if they did not succeed, the
attempt would cause so much confusion that no one would be calm enough
to listen to him afterwards. So how do you suppose he contrived to reach
the pulpit?

MARY. I should think he would not have attempted it, but would have put
off speaking, at least, until the pulpit was clear.

WILLIAM. I dare say he managed in some such way as he did when his
classmates undertook to keep him out of their room.

MRS. M. It was not very unlike it. He requested some of his friends to
assist him, and they procured a ladder, put it up outside the pulpit
window, and while all within were anxiously watching for him at the
door, and his friends were trembling for fear he would not be able to
make his way through the crowd, they raised their eyes, and, to the
astonishment of them all, beheld him in the pulpit! The British officers
were so surprised at his coolness and intrepidity, that they
involuntarily fell back at his approach. He advanced to address the
assembled multitude, not knowing but that, at the first word he spoke, a
bayonet would be thrust into his defenceless side.

Every eye was fixed upon him in almost breathless emotion. So awful and
perfect was the silence that each one could hear the palpitations of his
own heart. Every face was pale but his own. His animated and expressive
countenance was lighted up, and glowing with all the enthusiasm that the
most ardent love for the rights of his country could inspire. The
officers who stood near to him, so far from making his noble spirit
tremble or hesitate, only inspired him with greater animation to tell
over the wrongs which they had done us, and the still greater wrongs
they were about to do. He called upon the soldiers not to assist their
masters in this; not to aid a parent to oppress his children and wrest
from them their hard earned rights. He told them that our fathers had
come to this country to avoid the very tyranny that was now bearing so
heavily on their children. That they came here to worship God in the way
they thought most acceptable to Him. That they had given up their homes,
their friends, and all the comforts of civilized life, for freedom. That
they had suffered the greatest hardships from savages, from cold,
poverty, and the want of every thing worth having, except liberty. He
told them that through all the cares and all the sufferings of our
pilgrim fathers, they still looked back on the country from which they
came with the affection of children. They had obeyed its laws, had sent
it money, and had done all that was in their power to do, to prove that
they were deeply interested in its welfare. But that now that we, the
descendants of those who had undergone so much, were beginning to enjoy
what they had purchased so dearly, these Britains were determined to
oppress us. That their king, who ought to take a pleasure in our
prosperity, judged us without hearing us, gave us rulers who took no
interest in our prosperity, and insisted that we should pay money for
the privilege of buying what it was for his interest to sell us. It is
long since I read this eloquent address, and I cannot give you any
correct idea of it; you must read it yourself to form one.[2]

The scene, while Warren was speaking, was sublime and interesting beyond
any thing of the kind that had ever before been witnessed in this
country, or, perhaps in any other. When the orators of ancient times
were urging their countrymen not to submit to tyrants, those tyrants
were far away--but while Warren was making this appeal to his
countrymen, it was in the presence of the very oppressors themselves,
who were gazing on him with arms in their hands, arms ready to be used
the moment their passions were roused! That their passions _were_
roused, I think there can be little doubt; but there was so much
determination in the looks of those around, that I suppose they were not
willing to run the risk of attacking a man thus guarded by the love,
almost the adoration of those whom he addressed. Besides this, there
were many among the British who were so much affected by Warren's
address, as to be unwilling to use any violence against the speaker.

If such was its effect on his enemies, what must it have been on his
friends? It was so powerful that, at that moment they might have been
led on to an entire renunciation of the government of Great Britain. The
time, however, had not yet quite arrived for so bold an act; the country
was young and without resources, or any prospect of aid from other
countries. Still, from this time, many who had not before expressed an
opinion, now openly declared that we ought to be independent.

Things had been gradually operating to produce an almost universal
belief that there was little to be expected from the king of England.
Josiah Quincy, the father of him who is now president of Cambridge
College, was a warm friend of Gen. Warren's, and had aided in all his
efforts to repel the encroachments of the king. About six months before
this oration was delivered, he had embarked privately for England. From
his letters it was evident that, although many influential men there
were in our favor, yet those by whom the king was governed were against
us, so that there was little prospect that any change for the better
should take place. The general tenor of his letters to his countrymen,
while he himself was in England, was, what he says, he had long before
told them, that "they must seal their cause with their blood, that in
the sight of God and all just men, that cause is a good one," and if
Americans do not act up to their professions "they would be trodden into
the vilest vassalage, the scorn, contempt, the spurn of their enemies, a
bye-word of infamy among men." That Americans would "be true to
themselves," and were ready, when called on, "to seal their cause with
their blood," his friend Warren was among the most earnest to convince
him. He writes to him, "It is the united voice of America, to preserve
their freedom, or lose their lives in its defence." "I am convinced," he
says, "that the true spirit of liberty was never so universally diffused
through all orders and ranks of people, in any country on the face of
the globe, as it now is through all North America." He says of the
provincial Congress, of which he had been elected president: "Congress
met at Concord at the time appointed. About two hundred and sixty
members were present." "You would have thought yourself in an assembly
of Spartans, or ancient Romans, had you been a witness to the ardour
which inspired those who spoke on the important business they were
transacting." The Congress of which he here speaks was composed of men
chosen by the people, to provide for the safety of their fellow
citizens, and to order all that was necessary to be done to enable them
to resist the tyrannical laws of the king of England. The terms in which
Gen. Warren speaks of this congress, were no doubt very cheering to Mr.
Quincy, who must himself have ardently desired to have been present
among them. He remained only six months in England, and died on his
passage home, just as the vessel which he was on board entered the
harbour of Cape Ann, on the 26th of April, 1775.

WILLIAM. Oh how sorry I am! He must have wished very much to have seen
his countrymen once more.

MRS. M. He did indeed. He repeatedly said to the seamen, who were
attending on him, that he had but one desire and one prayer, which was,
that he might live long enough to have one interview with his friend
Joseph Warren, or with Samuel Adams. His prayer was not granted, for
wise purposes no doubt. Nor did he know that his predictions that blood
would be shed before liberty could be attained, were accomplished, and
that his countrymen had already, in the battle of Lexington, sealed
their constancy in the cause of liberty "with their blood."

But I must go back a little to tell you what led to that battle. The
British had been for some time aware that the Americans were determined
to repel their aggressions by arms, since all other means had failed.
They therefore determined to take from us the means of defence. They
thought if they could get possession of our powder and balls, we of
course could not fire our guns or cannon. They resolved to attempt first
to gain those which were at Concord, a small town about 18 miles from

On the 18th of March, 1775, Gen. Gage despatched, as secretly as
possible, eight or nine hundred soldiers, under the command of a Col.
Smith, to destroy all the stores in that place, thinking this a safer
plan than to try to keep them. This they hoped to effect before our
people had time to make any resistance. But the Americans were not so
easily taken by surprise. Gen. Warren had directed a number of men to
keep watch on the motions of the British, and to let him know when there
was any appearance of an attack upon us. These men discovered this plan
of theirs, and immediately gave Warren information of it. He would not
do any thing hastily, so he went himself to watch them. One evening he
observed there was an unusual stir in the English camp. Unperceived by
them he saw Col. Smith and his men embark on board some of their
vessels, and he had no doubt they were going to Charlestown, and from
thence to Concord. He, the same night, despatched messengers through the
neighboring country, to give notice of the designed attack. He rode
himself all night, and passed so near the enemy as to be several times
in danger of becoming their prisoner, but escaped by his undaunted
courage and self-possession. Col. Revere was one of his messengers; I
think he was sent to Lexington. He had of course to pass through
Charlestown. As he was turning a corner of one of the streets, he
discovered a party of soldiers approaching, he knew them to belong to
the enemy; for a moment he hesitated whether to turn back or proceed;
but it was only for a moment; he recollected that probably the safety of
hundreds depended on his executing the commission entrusted to him, he
put his horse into a gallop, and, before the astonished men had time to
ascertain if he was friend or foe, he had dashed through them and was
nearly out of sight! In vain with their halloos and their whizzing
balls they attempted to stop him; of the halloos he was regardless, and
from their balls he was preserved by that Being who seemed in a most
especial manner to smile upon our cause.

WILLIAM. I am glad they could not stop him. I think he was a brave man,
do not you mamma? I fear I should have turned back when I saw the
soldiers coming.

MRS. M. He certainly was a very brave man, and we had a great many such
during the Revolution. I trust you would have been brave too, had you
lived in such times, and would not have turned back from the performance
of a duty, because it was dangerous to execute it. Revere executed his
so faithfully, that when the British arrived at Lexington, which is six
miles this side of Concord, they were met by a body of our militia, who
endeavored to keep them from advancing. It was now about sunrise.
Warren, although he had had no rest that night, hastened to the field of
action, determined to be ready to aid and animate his countrymen, and
to share every danger to which they were exposed.

The small number of men which had time to assemble were not, however,
able to make much opposition to the veteran soldiers of Great Britain.
When the officers of these men cried out, "Disperse, you rebels,
disperse, throw down your arms and disperse," many left the field. As
they were doing so, some of the enemy fired on them; this brought on an
engagement, in which eight of our men were killed and seven wounded. The
British pursued their march to Concord, and destroyed sixty barrels of
flour, and other stores deposited there. Our men had now collected in
greater numbers, and opposed them so resolutely as to drive them back to
Lexington in _quick march_, and they continued to annoy them through the
whole of their retreat to Charlestown: so that, before they arrived
there, they had lost many men. Some were wounded, some taken prisoners,
and others slain. Gen. Warren, from his ardor in pressing on them was
near being killed. A musket-ball came so close to him as to take off a
lock of his hair which curled close to his head, as was the fashion of
the time. You may see how his hair was dressed if you look at his
picture in Faneuil Hall.

MARY. How could it help wounding him, dear mother, when it came so near?

MRS. M. It seems wonderful that it should not have wounded him; but he
was spared a little longer by that Being, who alone can judge what is
the proper time in which a valuable life should be taken.

When his mother first saw him after this escape, she entreated him, with
tears in her eyes, not again to risk a life so dear to her, and so
necessary to his country. "Wherever danger is, dear mother," was his
reply, "there must your son be, now is no time for _one_ of America's
children to shrink from the most hazardous duty. I will either see my
country _free_, or shed my last drop of blood to make her so." He was
not permitted to see this; but he did indeed shed his life's blood, that
others might be free. That blood was not shed in vain. It is probable
that his death did nearly as much to animate his countrymen in the
cause of liberty, as he himself could have done had he lived.

After the battle of Lexington, there was an exchange of prisoners made.
The British agreed to release those they had taken, in exchange for
those taken by the Americans. The place appointed for this exchange to
be made was Charlestown, the town so soon after destroyed by some of the
_very men_ now met for purposes of kindness and good will. Gen. Warren,
as President of Congress, and the brave Gen. Putnam, (under whom Warren
had previously served as a volunteer in a skirmish on one of the
islands, in which the English had been defeated, and one of their
vessels burnt,) were escorted by two of the finest companies of the
Massachusetts soldiers, to the place of meeting. The scene was
interesting and impressive. Although there had been difficulties among
the English soldiers and our people, and with some of the officers also,
yet most of the officers, on both sides, had been cordial to each other;
some had been intimate friends. They had, previous to the difficulties
between the two countries, served under the same commanders, fought the
same battles, glowed with united hopes of victory, or felt disheartened
together when they failed in their undertakings. These feelings could
not be altogether repressed, and when they now first met, after having
been arrayed against each other,--met too, to exchange offices of
kindness and hospitality, with the sacred flag of truce waving over
their heads, every sentiment but that of friendship was forgotten, and
they rushed into each others' arms, overcome with feelings too powerful
for expression. These feelings quickly spread around, and each hardy
soldier was ready to extend the hand of amity to the other.

After the business on which they met was over, Putnam and Warren
entertained the British as their guests, with all the hospitality the
times would permit.

A few days after this meeting, Warren was appointed Major-General of the
American forces in Massachusetts. The people had for some time looked up
to him as their leader; and he had made constant exertions to maintain
order and enforce discipline among the troops. He united so much
coolness with so much true courage, and so much gentleness with so much
decision, as to give him immense influence over them. He mingled in the
ranks, talked with each soldier as if he was a brother, and thus
succeeded most astonishingly in imparting to them his own ardour in the
cause, and his confidence in its success. Before he was chosen as their
General, he was requested to act as Surgeon-General to the army, but
this post did not suit his heroic character. His wish was to lead on the
soldiers to battle, rather than to take care of those who were unable to
go, or of those who received wounds while there.

The charge he had now received of the army, he would not suffer in any
degree to interfere with that he before sustained as President of
Congress. He had from the first discovered as much talent in directing
the counsels of the nation, as he had energy in animating the soldiers.
Part of each day he would pass in Congress, which was now assembled at
Watertown, deliberately weighing each subject that was discussed. He
gave no opinion until fully convinced what was best to be done. When his
opinion was formed, he bent every power of his mind and body, to have
that which was resolved upon put into execution. When he had
accomplished all he could in the Congress, he would jump on his horse,
ride as quickly as possible to the camp at Cambridge, and enter with
equal ardor into every thing to be done there.

It was on the 14th of June, that Joseph Warren was elected Major-General
of the Massachusetts forces.

The British had four thousand well disciplined soldiers in Boston at
this time, under the command of Gen. Gage. Now I dare say you know that
four thousand men used to fighting, and commanded by a general whom they
know they must obey, are more powerful than double that number who are
not used to warfare, and who are not obliged to fight unless they

WILLIAM. Yes, mamma, I should think they must be; but were not our men
at all used to fighting? and were they not willing to fight?

MRS. M. They had never been engaged in a regular battle, and, although
most of them were very willing to fight, yet they were much more easily
intimidated than regular soldiers. This gave the British a great
advantage over them; besides this, many of our people did not like to be
thought _rebels_, which the British took every opportunity to convince
them they were. They did not feel quite sure that they did right to
fight against their king, as they had always considered the king of
England to be, and they knew, too, that if we were unsuccessful, they
should be hung as rebels.

But for all this there were a great many willing to risk every thing in
the cause of liberty; and so eager were these for an engagement, that it
was extremely difficult to restrain them until they had acquired a
little more military knowledge.

The British were also anxious to do something. They had, to be sure, the
command of Boston, but all the hills around were guarded by us, and
they felt rather foolish in suffering themselves to be cooped up there,
and not have the power to leave it, without risking a battle. They
finally determined to make a bold push, and obtain possession of the
highest parts of Charlestown and Dorchester, and thus give themselves a
little more liberty to go in and out of the town.

The 18th of June, 1775, was the day on which they had determined to make
this attempt.

The Americans, however, gave them something to do a little sooner than
this. They had contemplated making some attack on the British, or at
least to endeavor to destroy their shipping. Gen. Warren, ardent and
enterprising as he was, was not in favor of this plan. He thought it
would be hazarding too much to begin warfare again in our situation;
that if it was once begun, it would lead to a general engagement, in
which our untrained men would not be able to maintain their ground; and
he thought if beaten now they might be entirely discouraged. Gen.
Putnam, who at that time commanded the troops in Cambridge, was of a
different opinion. He said they need only take two thousand men, nor
would he risk any more. Gen. Warren walked back and forth the room in
which they were debating several times, he then leaned on a chair, and,
after a few moments silence, exclaimed, "almost thou persuadest me, Gen.
Putnam, still I must think the project rash, but if you execute it, you
will not be surprised to find me at your side." "I hope you will not be
there," said Putnam, "you are young, and your country has much to hope
from you, both in their councils and in the field of battle; let us, who
are old and can be better spared begin the affray, there will be time
enough for you hereafter; it will not soon be over."

The more this step was deliberated upon, the more difficulties seemed to
arise, and Gen. Warren felt it his duty again to oppose it before the
committee of safety, of which he was chairman, and before the council of
war, assembled on purpose to decide upon it. When, after much
discussion, both these bodies resolved on its execution, he gave up his
own opinion and joined with his whole heart to promote its success. It
was finally voted by the committee, on the 15th of June, that Dorchester
heights and Bunker hill should be occupied and fortified by our troops.
The intelligence now received, that the British were themselves
preparing to leave their entrenchments to take possession of these
heights, no doubt decided this measure. The soldiers, you recollect,
were encamped in Cambridge. They were quartered, or stationed, in the
colleges and in all the houses for a mile or two about; wherever they
could find shelter, there they were placed.

On the 16th of June, Col. Prescott was ordered to take a part of the
men, stationed in Cambridge, about one thousand, march with them to
Charlestown, and fortify Bunker Hill. Accordingly, in the evening they
began their march as secretly as possible. It was very important they
should get there without the knowledge of the British, for they had to
go so near their lines, that it would have been perfectly in their power
to prevent the success of their undertaking, had they known it. They
took scarcely any refreshments, nothing which was not absolutely
necessary. Their first object was to take possession of Bunker Hill,
their own comforts were but a secondary consideration; when they had
succeeded in that, then would be time enough, they thought, to think of
themselves and to have provisions and other necessaries sent them. To
insure secrecy, the soldiers were not informed of the object of their
march, until they had crossed Charlestown neck. The plan was so well
arranged and so well executed, that the British had not the slightest
suspicion of it, until the rising sun, as it dispelled the mists of the
morning, shone on their fortifications and revealed to the astonished
gaze of the bewildered British, their daring enemy immediately above
them, overlooking their camp, and entrenched in strong forts which
seemed as if created by enchantment; so quietly and so suddenly had they
been erected! Those who first beheld the alarming spectacle rubbed their
eyes, thinking themselves in a dream, but, soon finding it was reality,
they awoke their countrymen and immediately began firing on our men,
almost expecting, even then, to find the fortifications vanish from
before them. They killed one of our noble fellows, and these men who had
done and dared so bravely the night preceding, were so appalled at the
unusual sight of death, in so sudden a manner, that some of them quitted
the works on which they had labored so hard, and returned no more to
defend them.

This can hardly be wondered at. They had been up all night, had had no
refreshment, from sleep or food, not even a drop of water to wet their
parched lips. It is, therefore, more surprising that any of them should
be able to make a stand against the experienced soldiers of Great
Britain, than that some should fall back.

WILLIAM. Yes, mamma, I think it was more surprising. I should have
thought they would have had no strength or resolution to do any thing.
Why did they not have some men from Cambridge to aid them? some who had
not worked so hard would surely have been better able to fight.

MRS. M. Perhaps they would; but those who had gained the post of danger
with so much toil and through so much peril, were determined to maintain
it as long as they were able to stand by it: besides there had yet been
no time for reinforcements to arrive.

WILLIAM. Was Gen. Warren with them when they first went to Bunker Hill?

MRS. M. No, my dear, Congress met at Watertown the day preceding that
eventful night. Gen. Warren was, you know, president of it; he was
therefore obliged to be present when it met. He had been all day engaged
with its members, discussing the most important business, and even the
night was far spent before they had finished the necessary arrangements
for the momentous crisis which had now arrived. The moment he could
leave his friends there, he prepared to go immediately to the field of
battle. These friends endeavored, with all the arguments they could use,
to dissuade him from going. They told him that it was impossible for the
troops there to maintain their ground; that they neither had a
sufficient supply of powder and balls, nor of arms, and the probability
was that all who persisted in fighting would be either killed or taken
prisoners. One of them, in particular, entreated him, most earnestly,
not to expose his invaluable life where his death was almost certain,
for that thus he would injure rather than serve his country's cause. "I
cannot help it," he replied, "I must share the fate of my countrymen."
"To hear the sound of the cannon and remain inactive, is what I cannot
do." "I should die to be at home, while my fellow citizens are shedding
their blood for me." "As sure as you go, you will be slain," replied his
friend. "It is sweet, it is honourable, to die for our country," was the
last reply of the patriotic hero. By daylight of the next morning he was
in Cambridge. The British had not made their appearance, and, sick with
a nervous headache from his excessive exertions of mind and body, Warren
threw himself on a bed, hoping for a few moments' repose. He was soon
informed that the enemy were in motion. Their destination was at first
uncertain. Many thought they intended to seize the scanty stock of
ammunition and other stores, deposited at Watertown and Cambridge. It
was all this part of the country contained; all on which the army here
depended, to enable them to make any resistance against the
well-furnished troops of Great Britain. If these were taken or
destroyed, the struggle for liberty would, for a time, perhaps
_forever_, be at an end.

On the other hand, the troops at Bunker Hill were very much exposed, and
required immediate reinforcements. These considerations prevented the
committee of safety from acting with so much decision, as they would
otherwise have done. This committee was now sitting in the same house in
which Gen. Warren had been seeking a little repose. The moment he
received information that the British were on the move, he started from
his bed, exclaiming, "my headache is gone." He then met with the
committee, of which he was chairman. With his usual quickness of
perception he saw that Bunker Hill was the spot destined to be attacked,
and so soon as it was resolved to send reinforcements there, he mounted
his horse, and, with his fusil and sword hastened to the post of danger.
When he had arrived at Bunker, or Breed's Hill (for they had not yet
been able to fortify Bunker Hill,) the enemy had landed at Charlestown,
and thus made it clear that their intentions were to attack our
forts.[3] Five thousand experienced British troops were already landed
and prepared, under the command of Gen. Howe, to encounter our men. They
had been through no fatigue, had plenty of arms, ammunition, and every
thing necessary to render success almost certain. The Americans, on the
contrary, were much exhausted, their arms were poor, their ammunition
scanty, and no reinforcements of any importance had arrived. But, as I
before mentioned, our men did not wish for aid, they wanted themselves
to defend the forts they had themselves so ably constructed, and they
were about to fight for their liberties, their homes, and every thing
most dear to them. They were determined, too, to show the hired troops
of Great Britain of what men were capable who had determined to die
free, rather than to live under the tyranny of a foreign power. With
such feelings, they did not hesitate a moment to face the enemy, and it
was necessary to repress their ardor, so eager were they to begin.

WILLIAM. But, mamma, was it not on Bunker Hill the battle was fought?
for you said just now it was Breed's Hill, and that they had not been
able to fortify Bunker Hill. I thought they fortified that at first.

MRS. M. No, my dear, they did not. They were directed to do it, but they
found it would not answer so well, as it was too far from the enemy for
them to reach her fleet and shipping from it with their balls. They
therefore fortified Breed's Hill in preference.

MARY. Why then, mamma, was the battle called the battle of Bunker Hill?

MRS. M. Because Bunker Hill was the only one which was distinguished by
a name at that time; it was the one, too, which they had intended to
occupy, and the battle was fought so near it that it was then designated
by that name, which it has ever since retained, and it would be hardly
worth while to alter it now.

WILLIAM. No, mamma, I should think not. I should not like to have the
name changed, for ever since I can remember, I have heard about the
battle of Bunker Hill, and the death of Gen. Warren on it, and I should
not know what it meant if I now heard of the battle of Breed's Hill, and
I do not think I should think at all of him when it was thus spoken of.
But I have interrupted you at the most interesting part. Gen. Warren, I
think you said, had joined the Americans just as the battle was

MRS. M. Yes, he had; the firing had already commenced. Among our
commanders the only contention was, who should be foremost at the post
of danger. Each was desirous himself to be placed where there was the
greatest risk, and, therefore, the greatest honor. So soon as Gen.
Warren reached the field of battle, he sought out Gen. Putnam, to
request him to point out to him where he should find the most arduous
service. As Putnam saw him approach, he exclaimed, "Gen. Warren, I am
sorry to see you here: I wish you had left the day to us, as I advised
you. From appearances we shall have a sharp time of it, but since you
are here, I will receive your commands with pleasure." Warren replied,
"I come as a volunteer, I know nothing of your arrangements, and will
not interfere with them; only tell me where I can be most useful, and
there I will go." Putnam, still earnest, if possible, to preserve him
from danger, directed him to a particular spot, observing at the same
time, "there you will be covered." But this was not what Warren wanted.
"Do not think," he earnestly exclaimed, "I come here to seek a place of
safety, tell me where the onset will be most furious, it is there I wish
to be." Putnam then told him that the post he had pointed out was a most
important one. That it was the first wish of the enemy to drive our
soldiers from it; that Col. Prescott was there, determined to defend it
as long as possible, for upon retaining it depended the fate of the
battle. He added, that the probability was, the British would at last
gain possession of it, but when it could be defended no longer, it would
require great coolness and skill to bring off as many of our soldiers as
possible, and retreat with order and regularity. Warren assented to the
truth of this, said he would be governed by his opinions, and instantly
went to the redoubt or post that was to be defended.

So soon as the soldiers saw him, they welcomed him with loud huzzas.
Col. Prescott, as Putnam had before, asked him to take the command; he
again refused it, and offered his services as a volunteer, saying, "I am
happy to learn service from a soldier of experience."

The battle now commenced most seriously. Our soldiers had, as yet, no
time to fortify Bunker Hill, though, if they were beat back from their
fort, it was of the utmost importance this should be done; nor had they
been able to complete their other works as they wished. It was too late
now, for the enemy were already firing on them, unfinished as they were.
All that could be accomplished, before the firing began, was for part of
the soldiers to take post behind a rail fence, about two hundred and
fifty yards in length, which they slightly fortified by placing another
fence at a little distance from the first, and filling the space between
the two with new mown hay. So soon as the tremendous discharge of
cannon from the British began, her troops advanced to attack those
stationed at the redoubt and at this fence. Our men were eager instantly
to return the fire, but were not permitted to, until the enemy were
within eight rods of them. Powder, Putnam told them, must not be wasted.
"Do not fire until commanded. You must not fire until you see the whites
of the eyes of your enemy, then fire low, take aim at their waistbands.
You are all marksmen, and can kill a squirrel at the distance of a
hundred yards; reserve your fire and the enemy are all destroyed. Aim at
the handsome coats; pick off the commanders." Such were the orders of
many of the American officers besides Putnam, as they rode through the
lines of the different divisions which were stationed at the fence, and
at the redoubt. The redoubt was 150 yards in front of the rail fence. As
you may suppose, these instructions came home to the men, and encouraged
and animated them, and gave them more confidence in themselves than any
thing else that could have been said. Some few, in their eagerness to
fire, did not wait the word of command, Putnam drew his sword and
declared he would himself cut down the first who should disobey. Gen.
Warren was among the most active, cheering the men by his words and
actions; he mingled in their ranks, shared all their dangers, and with
his musket stood ready to aid them in firing, the moment the enemy were
near enough to render it prudent to fire. That moment had come. The
British had approached within eight rods of the redoubt. The command was
given, they fired, and nearly the whole front rank of the advancing army
was destroyed. Another line, and still another, presented itself, and
each was in turn levelled with the ground. For a short time there was a
pause. The British were retreating. Putnam seized the moment to bring up
some reinforcements from Bunker Hill. Howe, the British commander,
meanwhile brought his troops once more into order, and was joined by
some others from Boston, under the command of Major Small. Again the
firing commenced. Our men were obliged to wait until the British were
still nearer than the first. Not until they were within _six_ rods were
they now allowed to discharge their muskets. When they did, it was with
still more deadly effect than before. The flames of Charlestown, to
which the British had set fire, urged them on, and rank after rank of
officers and men fell before them. The enemy could no longer stand their
ground; they retreated once more, and left the field to our brave men.
At this moment, Gen. Putnam saw one British officer standing alone, all
around him had fallen. Many muskets were levelled at him; in a moment he
would have shared the fate of his companions. At this eventful moment,
Putnam perceived that it was an old friend and fellow soldier who was
about to be destroyed: he rushed to the spot, knocked away the deadly
weapons with his sword, and entreated the men to spare one whom he loved
like a brother. They could not resist the appeal; the noble and daring
generosity of the General excited their admiration and sympathy. His
friend was permitted to retire unhurt.

Every thing now seemed to promise success to the cause of liberty. The
field was our own. More than a thousand of the enemy had fallen, and a
great number of their best officers were slain by our marksmen. But
alas! at the very moment in which every thing seemed to smile upon our
noble defenders, these defenders found the greatest reason to despair.
So soon as they had leisure to look around them, they discovered that
their ammunition was expended, their arms almost useless, and scarcely
any thing to defend themselves from a renewed attack of the enemy, but
the stones which partly formed their fort. Their only hope was, that as
the loss of the British had been so great, they would not again make the
hazardous attempt to drive them from their entrenchments. In this,
_their last hope_, they were fatally disappointed. Some of the British
officers were unwilling to lead their men again to an attack, where
certain death seemed to await them, but the greater part of them were
determined not to yield the victory to _rebels_, as they still called
us. They collected all their strength, and once more advanced to the
charge, resolved to take the redoubt which Gen. Putnam had pointed out
to Gen. Warren as our most important point of defence, or perish in the

Every effort was made by our brave officers and soldiers to preserve
this much contested spot; but the little ammunition they had been able
to collect was soon exhausted. Even this little had not the effect their
former discharges had. The British had learnt wisdom from experience,
they approached with more caution, and kept their forces much closer
together than before. When no more ammunition could be procured by our
officers, stones were resorted to, as the last means of defence. This
rather encouraged than repelled the enemy, as it showed they had nothing
else to use. At last, in spite of every exertion it was in the power of
men to make, who felt they were fighting for their country and their
homes, the British gained possession of the redoubt. They were opposed
at every step of their advance; the butt ends of the guns which the
Americans could no longer fire, were made use of to keep them back;
nothing was left undone. But it was all in vain. As fast as one party
was beaten off, another would approach. All that our officers had now to
do, was to endeavor to retreat with the men who yet remained, with as
little loss as possible. This was done with the same bravery and skill
they had displayed through the whole battle. Gen. Warren was the last to
quit his post. He animated the men to the most desperate actions. With
his own sword he cut down all who were around him. Every inch of ground
which they relinquished, he considered as an indelible disgrace. To give
up all they had toiled so hard to gain, to see the oppressors of his
country in possession of a spot strewed with the bodies, and wet with
the blood of those who had fought so nobly in her defence, was more than
Warren could support. He felt that the liberties of that country had
received their death blow, and life was now of no value to him. He
slowly followed his countrymen, when he found they must yield, and
disdained to quicken his steps, although the balls of the enemy were
whizzing around him. There were some among his gallant opponents who
would gladly have preserved his life, had it been in their power; among
these was Major Small, the same officer who had been rescued by Putnam
from a similar fate. He perceived Gen. Warren thus moving slowly on,
regardless of, or rather seeming to court death. He called upon him for
God's sake to stop, and take refuge with him from certain destruction.
Warren turned and looked at him, but, too sick at heart to answer him,
still kept on his perilous way, in full sight of his enemies. Small then
ordered his men not to fire on him, but it was too late, they had seen
him, and, before the command was heard, had fired. He was only about
eighty rods from the redoubt he had defended so nobly, when the fatal
ball reached him, passed through his head, and killed him instantly.

WILLIAM. Oh how sorry I am! Why could not Major Small have spoken a
little quicker, and kept his men from firing, as Putnam did when our men
were about to fire on him?

MRS. M. He no doubt did all he could to preserve him, but a higher
power than his directed the ball which thus deprived our country of one
of her most enthusiastic defenders, and in one of her darkest moments.
He was taken, too, before his eyes were allowed a glimpse of that
brilliant light of liberty which afterwards shone so brightly upon his
country, and for whose first rays he had so anxiously watched. He fell
in the prime of life, a glorious sacrifice for his beloved country.

MARY. How old was he, dear mother?

MRS. M. He was only thirty-four years of age.

WILLIAM. What became of his body, mamma? I hope the British did not have

MRS. M. His body lay, with a great many others, all night on the field
of battle. In the morning a young man, by the name of Winslow, saw it,
and, disfigured as it was, knew it; he went immediately and told Gen.
Howe that Gen. Warren was among the slain on Bunker Hill. Howe would not
at first believe it. He said it was impossible that the President of
Congress should have been suffered to expose himself in such a perilous
encounter. Dr. Jeffries, who was afterwards for many years a physician
in Boston, and whose son now practises here, was then a surgeon in the
British service. He was at this time on the field, dressing the wounded
among the English, and those among the American prisoners. Howe inquired
if he knew Warren; he said he did, and, so soon as he saw the body,
declared it to be his. He told Gen. Howe that Gen. Warren had, only five
days previous, with his accustomed fearlessness of danger, ventured in a
small canoe to Boston, that he might himself gather information of the
designs of the enemy; and that he had at the same time urged him (Dr.
Jeffries) to return with him, and act as surgeon to the Americans. Howe
no longer doubted that his formidable adversary was extended powerless
at his feet. Though too noble himself not to lament the early fate of
such a mind, yet he declared that this one victim was worth five hundred
of their own men, in which he was joined by all who heard him. In the
pocket of Gen. Warren was found a prayer book with his name in it, which
would from the first have decided, beyond doubt, that it was indeed
Gen. Warren who lay there among friends and foes; but it was not seen at
that time. The probability is, that it was plundered from his pocket by
some of those wretches who generally remain on the field where a battle
has been fought, in order to get what they can from the dying and the

MARY. How was it known that it had been taken from him, dear mother?

MRS. M. Some time after, when the war was over, and the British officers
and soldiers had gone back to England, one of these soldiers showed this
book to an English minister, whose name was Samuel Wilton. This
gentleman knew that a book of this kind, found on the body of so eminent
a man as Warren, would be highly valued by every American, and that it
would be more especially gratifying to his immediate relatives to have
such a relic of him; one which showed that when he went forth to fight
for his country, his trust was not in his own arm alone, but that he
looked up to a higher power for support. Mr. Wilton, therefore, offered
the man a great price for it, who very gladly sold it to him. He then
sent it to America, and had it put into the hands of a minister of
Roxbury, the Rev. Dr. Gordon--with a request that it might be given to
his nearest relative. It was accordingly given to his youngest brother,
Dr. John Warren, March 15th, 1778. This was about three years after Gen.
Warren's death.

MARY. I think it was very kind in that English minister to take so much
trouble. Was not the book almost worn out by the man who had it all that

MRS. M. No, it was in very good preservation. I suppose the man took
good care of it, thinking he might sometime get a great price for it. It
is even now a handsome book, the binding is as nice as ever. The type is
so clear, that is, it was so well printed, that it can be read with
great ease, although printed so long ago as the year 1559; which was but
a little more than an hundred years after the art of printing was
discovered: so that it is valuable for its antiquity, as well as from
having belonged to a departed hero.

WILLIAM. Where is it now, mamma?

MRS. M. Gen. Warren's nephew, the present Dr. John C. Warren, has it. He
also has the oration which Gen. Warren delivered on the 5th of March, in
the orator's own hand-writing.

WILLIAM. You have not yet told us, mamma, what became of the body of the

MRS. M. It was buried near where he fell, with many other bodies, both
English and American. Some time after, his friends took it up and placed
it in a tomb in the Tremont burying-ground, and finally the bones were
removed to the family tomb under St. Paul's church.

WILLIAM. Would not the British let his friends have it to bury at first,
dear mother?

MRS. M. I presume they would, had any of them demanded it in time: but
these friends could not ascertain where he was, nor did they know for a
certainty of his death, until after he was buried. The youngest brother,
of whom I have spoken so often, Dr. John Warren, was at the time of the
battle, in full practice, as a physician, in Salem. So soon as he heard
there was likely to be an engagement in Charlestown, he armed himself,
and set out on foot for that place. He went on as rapidly as he could,
he saw the town of Charlestown in flames, and was lighted on his way by
its burning glare, but could not ascertain, for some time, if there had
yet been any fighting. At last he was informed that there had been a
severe engagement. His impatience to be on the spot, and his anxiety to
know where his brother Joseph was, became now almost insupportable. He
had studied his profession with that brother, and knew his ardent
character so well, that he felt confident he would be among the
combatants; he felt, too, that no danger, no thought for himself, would
keep him back from the hottest of the fray; he was eager to be with him,
to share his danger if he could not guard him from it. Notwithstanding
his impatience, he could learn nothing certain about him; he determined
to penetrate to the field of battle at all risks. As he attempted to
pass a sentinel, on his way, he was repulsed by him with the point of a
bayonet, which gave him so deep a wound, that he carried the scar from
it as long as he lived. Still he pushed on, and at last ascertained that
his brother was in the engagement, and that he was either killed or
taken prisoner. His character was quite as enthusiastic as that of his
brother, and he now earnestly entreated to be allowed to join the army
as a volunteer: to avenge his brother's death, or, if he was not killed,
to effect his release, was now his most fervent wish. This request was
refused. His services were needed elsewhere. The poor fellows who had
been wounded in the battle were even now suffering from the want of
surgical assistance. Dr. John Warren, although then only twenty-four
years of age, had already acted as surgeon at the battle of Lexington.
His skill, therefore, as a surgeon, was too well known to allow Congress
to accept his services in any other way. With a heart aching at the
uncertainty attending a beloved brother's fate, he had to fulfil the
duties of the office assigned him. This post, of hospital surgeon, he
retained during the rest of the war.

His mother was almost distracted with the suspense in which she was
kept respecting her first-born son. Although from the first she had said
she was sure he would fall a sacrifice to the cause he had espoused so
warmly, yet now she could not believe that such had been his fate. It
was three days after the battle, before certain intelligence was
obtained of his death. When his mother first realized that she should
see him no more, she was entirely overwhelmed with her affliction. He
was her eldest son; after the death of her husband, she had looked to
him as her principal solace and support. He was all her fondest hopes
could wish. Honor, respect and love, had attended him in every step of
his career; and now, just as he had attained to all the honors his
country could bestow, he was taken away, and she had not even the
melancholy satisfaction of embalming his body with her tears. For a time
she refused to be comforted; but ere long, that religion which had
comforted her in all her former afflictions, exerted its healing power
over her wounded spirit, and though she still sorrowed, it was not
without hope. The memory of this much loved son was fondly cherished by
her to the end of her life. Every anniversary of his death was kept by
her as a day of fasting and prayer, and her hospitable house was closed
to all but the poor.

His eldest and youngest brothers were present when his body was
disinterred. So soon as the youngest brother, Dr. John Warren, saw that
it was indeed the body of his respected preceptor and much loved friend
and brother, that was thus taken from the recesses of the grave to
receive the last tribute of affection, his emotion was so great as to
entirely overpower him, he dropped motionless by the side of him he so
deeply mourned, and it was some time before consciousness was restored

WILLIAM. How did his brothers know it was his body, mamma? I should
think, if it had been buried some time, it would not have been possible
for them to have been sure it was his.

MRS. M. They knew his clothes, for he was buried just as he fell;
besides this, he had lost a finger nail and wore an artificial tooth,
so that he was identified beyond doubt.

His country also deeply mourned his untimely loss. In the official
account of the battle, drawn up by the Massachusetts Congress, it is
stated; "Among the dead was Maj. Gen. Joseph Warren, a man whose memory
will be endeared to his countrymen, and to the worthy in every part and
age of the world, as long as valor shall be esteemed among mankind."

Within a year after his death, it was resolved by Congress that there
should be a monument erected to his memory, "as an acknowledgment of his
virtues and distinguished services." Congress also resolved, that from
that time his eldest son should be educated at the expense of the United
States. Two or three years after, it was determined that the three
younger children should likewise be supported and educated at the public
expense, until the youngest child should be of age.

MARY. Indeed, mamma, did Gen. Warren have four children? I did not know
he was married.

MRS. M. Yes, my dear, he left four orphans. His wife, who was a very
excellent, amiable woman, died three years before his death, so that
when he was killed, the poor children were left without father or

WILLIAM. Who took care of them, dear mother?

MRS. M. Dr. John Warren took them home soon after he himself was
married, and they lived with him many years.

MARY. Did the United States support them, as was resolved?

MRS. M. Yes. Their uncle, Dr. Warren, was just getting into business in
Boston, for he left Salem soon after the war commenced; he was at that
time not able to do more than support his own family, and unless the
board of his brother's children had been paid, he could not have kept
them. The eldest son was fitted for, and carried through college, but he
died a few years after he came out. The second son, too, died soon after
he became of age. The other two children were daughters. The eldest
married Gen. Arnold Welles, of whom you have often heard me speak; he
was a man beloved and respected by all who knew him. This eldest
daughter of Gen. Warren's, was a very beautiful woman, but she has been
dead many years. The second daughter, who was also a very handsome
woman, was twice married. Her last husband was Judge Newcombe, of
Greenfield. She has been dead some years, and has left one son, Warren
Newcombe, who is practising law in this State. He is the only immediate
descendant of Gen. Warren. I believe, my children, I have now told you
all I can about our friend Joseph Warren. Are you not tired of hearing
about him?

MARY. Oh, no, dear mother, I am not, I wish you could tell us a great
deal more.

WILLIAM. So do I, mamma. We are much obliged to you for telling us so
much. How long did the war last after Gen. Warren was killed?

MRS. M. It lasted about six years, but peace was not finally concluded
until the year 1783; that was eight years after his death. Parley's
Geography tells you the time when the fighting ceased, and when a treaty
of peace was signed between Great Britain and our country. Do you not
recollect it?

WILLIAM. Yes, mamma, I do now, but I cannot remember dates very well.

MRS. M. You must soon read larger books about the Revolution, and then
you will remember better. There are a great many anecdotes of things
which took place during the war, which are quite as interesting as any
books of tales you can find. In the Appendix to Dr. Thacher's Journal of
the Revolution, there are some very interesting facts related; but you
ought to read the whole book so soon as you are old enough to take an
interest in it. There are, too, a great many other books you ought to
read, to make you acquainted with the many great and good men, who
fought and bled in their country's cause. It is not possible to know how
much we owe them, and especially how much we owe to Gen. Washington,
unless we read books which enter into all the particulars of what was
done and suffered by them, and by him through the whole of the war.







It is not without the most humiliating conviction of my want of ability
that I now appear before you; but the sense I have of the obligation I
am under to obey the calls of my country at all times, together with an
animating recollection of your indulgence, exhibited upon so many
occasions, has induced me, once more, undeserving as I am, to throw
myself upon that candor which looks with kindness on the feeblest
efforts of an honest mind.

You will not now expect the elegance, the learning, the fire, the
enrapturing strains of eloquence which charmed you when a LOVELL, a
CHURCH, or a HANCOCK spake; but you will permit me to say, that with a
sincerity, equal to theirs, I mourn over my bleeding country: with them
I weep at her distress, and with them deeply resent the many injuries
she has received from the hands of cruel and unreasonable men.

That personal freedom is the natural right of every man; and that
property, or an exclusive right to dispose of what he has honestly
acquired by his own labor, necessarily arises therefrom, are truths
which common sense has placed beyond the reach of contradiction. And no
man, or body of men can, without being guilty of flagrant injustice,
claim a right to dispose of the persons or acquisitions of any other
man, or body of men, unless it can be proved that such a right has
arisen from some compact between the parties in which it has been
explicitly and freely granted.

If I may be indulged in taking a retrospective view of the first
settlement of our country, it will be easy to determine with what degree
of justice the late Parliament of Great Britain have assumed the power
of giving away that property which the Americans have earned by their

Our fathers having nobly resolved never to wear the yoke of despotism,
and seeing the European world, at that time, through indolence and
cowardice, falling a prey to tyranny, bravely threw themselves upon the
bosom of the ocean, determined to find a place in which they might enjoy
their freedom, or perish in the glorious attempt. Approving Heaven
beheld the favorite ark dancing upon the waves, and graciously preserved
it until the chosen families were brought in safety to these western
regions. They found the land swarming with savages, who threatened death
with every kind of torture. But savages, and death with torture, were
far less terrible than slavery: nothing was so much the object of their
abhorrence as a tyrant's power: they knew that it was more safe to dwell
with man in his most unpolished state, than in a country where arbitrary
power prevails. Even anarchy itself, that bugbear held up by the tools
of power, (though truly to be deprecated) is infinitely less dangerous
to mankind than arbitrary government. Anarchy can be but of short
duration; for when men are at liberty to pursue that course which is
most conducive to their own happiness, they will soon come into it, and
from the rudest state of nature, order and good government must soon
arise. But tyranny, when once established, entails its curses on a
nation to the latest period of time; unless some daring genius, inspired
by Heaven, shall, unappalled by danger, bravely form and execute the
arduous design of restoring liberty and life to his enslaved, murdered

The tools of power, in every age, have racked their inventions to
justify the few in sporting with the happiness of the many; and, having
found their sophistry too weak to hold mankind in bondage, have
impiously dared to force religion, the daughter of the king of heaven,
to become a prostitute in the service of hell. They taught that princes,
honored with the name of Christian, might bid defiance to the founder of
their faith, might pillage Pagan countries and deluge them with blood,
only because they boasted themselves to be the disciples of that teacher
who strictly charged his followers to do to others as they would that
others should do unto them.

This country, having been discovered by an English subject, in the year
1620, was (according to the system which the blind superstition of
those times supported) deemed the property of the crown of England. Our
ancestors, when they resolved to quit their native soil, obtained from
king James, a grant of certain lands in North America. This they
probably did to silence the cavils of their enemies, for it cannot be
doubted, but they despised the pretended right which he claimed thereto.
Certain it is, that he might, with equal propriety and justice, have
made them a grant of the planet Jupiter. And their subsequent conduct
plainly shows that they were too well acquainted with humanity, and the
principles of natural equity, to suppose that the grant gave them any
right to take possession; they, therefore, entered into a treaty with
the natives, and bought from them the lands: nor have I ever yet
obtained any information that our ancestors ever pleaded, or that the
natives ever regarded the grant from the English crown: the business was
transacted by the parties in the same independent manner that it would
have been, had neither of them ever known or heard of the island of
Great Britain.

Having become the honest proprietors of the soil, they immediately
applied themselves to the cultivation of it; and they soon beheld the
virgin earth teeming with richest fruits, a grateful recompense for
their unwearied toil. The fields began to wave with ripening harvests,
and the late barren wilderness was seen to blossom like the rose. The
savage natives saw with wonder the delightful change, and quickly formed
a scheme to obtain that by fraud or force, which nature meant as the
reward of industry alone. But the illustrious emigrants soon convinced
the rude invaders, that they were not less ready to take the field for
battle than for labor: and the insidious foe was driven from their
borders as often as he ventured to disturb them. The crown of England
looked with indifference on the contest; our ancestors were left alone
to combat with the natives. Nor is there any reason to believe, that it
ever was intended by the one party, or expected by the other, that the
grantor should defend and maintain the grantees in the peaceable
possession of the lands named in the patents. And it appears plainly,
from the history of those times, that neither the prince, nor the people
of England, thought themselves much interested in the matter. They had
not then any idea of a thousandth part of those advantages which they
since have, and we are most heartily willing they should continue to
reap from us.

But when, at an infinite expense of toil and blood, this widely extended
continent had been cultivated and defended: when the hardy adventurers
justly expected that they and their descendants should peaceably have
enjoyed the harvest of those fields which they had sown, and the fruit
of those vineyards which they had planted; this country was then thought
worthy the attention of the British ministry; and the only justifiable
and only successful means of rendering the Colonies serviceable to
Britain were adopted. By an intercourse of friendly offices, the two
countries became so united in affection, that they thought not of any
distinct or separate interests, they found both countries flourishing
and happy. Britain saw her commerce extended, and her wealth increased;
her lands raised to an immense value; her fleets riding triumphant on
the ocean; the terror of her arms spreading to every quarter of the
globe. The Colonist found himself free, and thought himself secure; he
dwelt under his own vine, and under his own fig-tree, and had none to
make him afraid: he knew, indeed, that by purchasing the manufactures
of Great Britain, he contributed to its greatness: he knew that all the
wealth that his labor produced centered in Great Britain: but that, far
from exciting his envy, filled him with the highest pleasure; that
thought supported him in all his toils. When the business of the day was
past, he solaced himself with the contemplation, or perhaps entertained
his listening family with the recital of some great, some glorious
transaction which shines conspicuous in the history of Britain: or,
perhaps, his elevated fancy led him to foretell, with a kind of
enthusiastic confidence, the glory, power, and duration of an empire
which should extend from one end of the earth to the other: he saw, or
thought he saw, the British nation risen to a pitch of grandeur which
cast a veil over the Roman glory, and, ravished with the preview,
boasted a race of British kings, whose names should echo through those
realms where Cyrus, Alexander, and the Cæsars were unknown; princes for
whom millions of grateful subjects redeemed from slavery and Pagan
ignorance, should, with thankful tongues, offer up their prayers and
praises to that transcendently great and beneficent Being, by whom kings
reign, and princes decree justice.

These pleasing connexions might have continued; these delightsome
prospects might have been every day extended; and even the reveries of
the most warm imagination might have been realized; but unhappily for
us, unhappily for Britain, the madness of an avaricious minister of
state, has drawn a sable curtain over the charming scene, and in its
stead, has brought upon the stage, discord, envy, hatred, and revenge,
with civil war close in their rear.

Some demon, in an evil hour, suggested to a short-sighted financier, the
hateful project of transferring the whole property of the king's
subjects in America, to his subjects in Britain. The claim of the
British Parliament to tax the Colonies, can never be supported by such a
TRANSFER; for the right of the House of Commons of Great Britain, to
originate any tax, or grant money, is altogether derived from their
being elected by the people of Great Britain to act for them; and the
people of Great Britain cannot confer on their representatives a right
to give or grant any thing which they themselves have not a right to
give or grant personally. Therefore, it follows, that if the members
chosen by the people of Great Britain, to represent them in Parliament,
have, by virtue of their being so chosen, any right to give or grant
American property, or to lay any tax upon the lands or persons of the
Colonists, it is because the lands and people in the Colonies are bona
fide, owned by, and justly belonging to the people of Great Britain.
But, (as has been before observed,) every man has a right to personal
freedom, consequently, a right to enjoy what is acquired by his own
labor. And as it is evident that the property in this country has been
acquired by our own labor, it is the duty of the people of Great
Britain, to produce some compact in which we have explicitly given up to
them a right to dispose of our persons or property. Until this is done,
every attempt of theirs, or of those whom they have deputed to act for
them, to give or grant any part of our property, is directly repugnant
to every principle of reason and natural justice. But I may boldly say,
that such a compact never existed, no, not even in imagination.
Nevertheless, the representatives of a nation, long famed for justice
and the exercise of every noble virtue, have been prevailed on to adopt
the fatal scheme: and although the dreadful consequences of this wicked
policy have already shaken the empire to its centre; yet still it is
persisted in. Regardless of the voice of reason, deaf to the prayers
and supplications, and unaffected with the flowing tears of suffering
millions, the British ministry still hug the darling idol; and every
rolling year affords fresh instances of the absurd devotion with which
they worship it. Alas! how has the folly, the distraction of the British
councils, blasted our swelling hopes, and spread a gloom over this
western hemisphere.

The hearts of Britons and Americans, which lately felt the generous glow
of mutual confidence and love, now burn with jealousy and rage. Though,
but of yesterday, I recollect (deeply affected at the ill boding change)
the happy hours that past whilst Britain and America rejoiced in the
prosperity and greatness of each other, (Heaven grant those halcyon days
may soon return.) But now the Briton too often looks on the American
with an envious eye, taught to consider his just plea for the enjoyment
of his earnings, as the effect of pride and stubborn opposition to the
parent country. Whilst the American beholds the Briton as the ruffian,
ready first to take away his property, and next, what is still dearer to
every virtuous man, the liberty of his country.

When the measures of administration had disgusted the Colonies to the
highest degree, and the people of Great Britain had, by artifice and
falsehood, been irritated against America, an army was sent over to
enforce submission to certain acts of the British Parliament, which
reason scorned to countenance, and which placemen and pensioners were
found unable to support.

Martial law and the government of a well regulated city, are so entirely
different, that it has always been considered as improper to quarter
troops in populous cities: frequent disputes must necessarily arise
between the citizen and the soldier, even if no previous animosities
subsist. And it is further certain, from a consideration of the nature
of mankind, as well as from constant experience, that standing armies
always endanger the liberty of the subject. But when the people, on the
one part, considered the army as sent to enslave them, and the army, on
the other, were taught to look on the people as in a state of rebellion,
it was but just to fear the most disagreeable consequences. Our fears,
we have seen, were but too well grounded.

The many injuries offered to the town, I pass over in silence. I cannot
now mark out the path which led to that unequalled scene of horror, the
sad remembrance of which, takes the full possession of my soul. The
sanguinary theatre again opens itself to view. The baleful images of
terror crowd around me, and discontented ghosts, with hollow groans,
appear to solemnize the anniversary of the FIFTH OF MARCH.

Approach we then the melancholy walk of death. Hither let me call the
gay companion; here let him drop a farewell tear upon that body which so
late he saw vigorous and warm with social mirth; hither let me lead the
tender mother to weep over her beloved son: come, widowed mourner, here
satiate thy grief; behold thy murdered husband gasping on the ground,
and to complete the pompous show of wretchedness, bring in each hand thy
infant children to bewail their father's fate: take heed, ye orphan
babes, lest, whilst your streaming eyes are fixed upon the ghastly
corpse, your feet slide on the stones bespattered with your father's
brains.[4] Enough! this tragedy need not be heightened by an infant
weltering in the blood of him that gave it birth. Nature, reluctant,
shrinks already from the view, and the chilled blood rolls slowly
backward to its fountain. We wildly stare about, and with amazement,
ask, who spread this ruin round us? What wretch has dared deface the
image of his God? Has haughty France, or cruel Spain, sent forth her
myrmidons? Has the grim savage rushed again from the far distant
wilderness? Or does some fiend, fierce from the depth of hell, with all
the rancorous malice, which the apostate damned can feel, twang her
destructive bow, and hurl her deadly arrows at our breast? No, none of
these; but, how astonishing! It is the hand of Britain that inflicts the
wound. The arms of George, our rightful king, have been employed to shed
that blood, when justice, or the honor of his crown, had called his
subjects to the field.

But pity, grief, astonishment, with all the softer movements of the
soul, must now give way to stronger passions. Say, fellow citizens, what
dreadful thought now swells your heaving bosoms; you fly to arms, sharp
indignation flashes from each eye, revenge gnashes her iron teeth,
death grins an hideous smile, secure to drench his greedy jaws in human
gore, whilst hovering furies darken all the air.

But stop, my bold adventurous countrymen, stain not your weapons with
the blood of Britons. Attend to reason's voice, humanity puts in her
claim, and sues to be again admitted to her wonted seat, the bosom of
the brave. Revenge is far beneath the noble mind. Many, perhaps,
compelled to rank among the vile assassins, do, from their inmost souls,
detest the barbarous action. The winged death, shot from your arms, may
chance to pierce some breast that bleeds already for your injured

The storm subsides; a solemn pause ensues; you spare, upon condition
they depart. They go; they quit your city; they no more shall give
offence. Thus closes the important drama.

And could it have been conceived that we again should have seen a
British army in our land, sent to enforce obedience to acts of
Parliament destructive of our liberty. But the royal ear, far distant
from this western world, has been assaulted by the tongue of slander;
and villains, traitorous alike to king and country, have prevailed upon
a gracious prince to clothe his countenance with wrath, and to erect the
hostile banner against a people ever affectionate and loyal to him and
his illustrious predecessors of the house of Hanover. Our streets are
again filled with armed men; our harbor is crowded with ships of war;
but these cannot intimidate us; our liberty must be preserved; it is far
dearer than life, we hold it even dear as our allegiance; we must defend
it against the attacks of friends as well as enemies; we cannot suffer
even Britons to ravish it from us.

No longer could we reflect, with generous pride, on the heroic actions
of our American forefathers, no longer boast our origin from that far
famed island, whose warlike sons have so often drawn their well tried
swords to save her from the ravages of tyranny; could we, but for a
moment, entertain the thought of giving up our liberty. The man who
meanly will submit to wear a shackle, contemns the noblest gift of
Heaven, and impiously affronts the God that made him free.

It was a maxim of the Roman people, which eminently conduced to the
greatness of that state, never to despair of the commonwealth. The
maxim may prove as salutary to us now, as it did to them. Short-sighted
mortals see not the numerous links of small and great events, which form
the chain on which the fate of kings and nations is suspended. Ease and
prosperity (though pleasing for a day) have often sunk a people into
effeminacy and sloth. Hardships and dangers (though we forever strive to
shun them) have frequently called forth such virtues, as have commanded
the applause and reverence of an admiring world. Our country loudly
calls you to be circumspect, vigilant, active, and brave. Perhaps, (all
gracious Heaven avert it) perhaps the power of Britain, a nation great
in war, by some malignant influence, may be employed to enslave you: but
let not even this discourage you. Her arms, it is true, have filled the
world with terror: her troops have reaped the laurels of the field: her
fleets have rode triumphant on the sea--and when, or where, did you, my
countrymen, depart inglorious from the field of fight?[5] You, too, can
show the trophies of your forefather's victories and your own; can name
the fortresses and battles you have won; and many of you count the
honorable scars or wounds received, whilst fighting for your king and

Where justice is the standard, Heaven is the warrior's shield: but
conscious guilt unnerves the arm that lifts the sword against the
innocent. Britain, united with these Colonies by commerce and affection,
by interest and blood, may mock the threats of France and Spain; may be
the seat of universal empire. But should America, either by force, or
those more dangerous engines, luxury and corruption, ever be brought
into a state of vassalage, Britain must lose her freedom also. No longer
shall she sit the empress of the sea: her ships no more shall waft her
thunders over the wide ocean: the wreath shall wither on her temples:
her weakened arm shall be unable to defend her coasts: and she, at last,
must bow her venerable head to some proud foreigner's despotic rule.

But if, from past events, we may venture to form a judgment of the
future, we justly may expect that the devices of our enemies will but
increase the triumphs of our country. I must indulge a hope that
Britain's liberty, as well as ours, will eventually be preserved by the
virtue of America.

The attempt of the British Parliament to raise a revenue from America,
and our denial of their right to do it, have excited an almost universal
inquiry into the rights of mankind in general, and of British subjects
in particular; the necessary result of which must be such a liberality
of sentiment, and such a jealousy of those in power, as will, better
than an adamantine wall, secure us against the future approaches of

The malice of the Boston port bill has been defeated in a very
considerable degree, by giving you an opportunity of deserving, and our
brethren in this and our sister Colonies an opportunity of bestowing,
those benefactions which have delighted your friends and astonished your
enemies, not only in America, but in Europe also. And what is more
valuable still, the sympathetic feelings for a brother in distress, and
the grateful emotions excited in the breast of him who finds relief,
must forever endear each to the other, and form those indissoluble bonds
of friendship and affection, on which the preservation of our rights so
evidently depend.

The mutilation of our charter, has made every other Colony jealous for
its own; for this, if once submitted to us, would set on float the
property and government of every British settlement upon the continent.
If charters are not deemed sacred, how miserably precarious is every
thing founded upon them.

Even the sending troops to put these acts in execution, is not without
advantage to us. The exactness and beauty of their discipline inspire
our youth with ardor in the pursuit of military knowledge. Charles the
Invincible, taught Peter the Great, the art of war. The battle of
Pultowa convinced Charles of the proficiency Peter had made.

Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are
numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free,
and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes
of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the
happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.
The faltering tongue of hoary age calls on you to support your country.
The lisping infant raises its suppliant hands, imploring defence against
the monster, slavery. Your fathers look from their celestial seats with
smiling approbation on their sons, who boldly stand forth in the cause
of virtue; but sternly frown upon the inhuman miscreant, who, to secure
the loaves and fishes to himself, would breed a serpent to destroy his

But, pardon me, my fellow citizens, I know you want not zeal or
fortitude. You will maintain your rights or perish in the generous
struggle. However difficult the combat, you never will decline it when
freedom is the prize. An independence on Great Britain is not our aim.
No, our wish is, that Britain and the Colonies may, like the oak and
ivy, grow and increase in strength together. But whilst the infatuated
plan of making one part of the empire slaves to the other, is persisted
in; the interest and safety of Britain, as well as the Colonies, require
that the wise measures, recommended by the honorable the Continental
Congress, be steadily pursued; whereby the unnatural contest between a
parent honored, and a child beloved, may probably be brought to such an
issue, as that the peace and happiness of both may be established upon a
lasting basis. But if these pacific measures are ineffectual, and it
appears that the only way to safety, is through fields of blood, I know
you will not turn your faces from your foes, but will, undauntedly,
press forward, until tyranny is trodden under foot, and you have fixed
your adored goddess Liberty, fast by a Brunswick's side, on the American

You, then, who nobly have espoused your country's cause, who generously
have sacrificed wealth and ease; who have despised the pomp and show of
tinseled greatness; refused the summons to the festive board; been deaf
to the alluring calls of luxury and mirth; who have forsaken the downy
pillow to keep your vigils by the midnight lamp, for the salvation of
your invaded country, that you might break the fowler's snare, and
disappoint the vulture of his prey; you then will reap that harvest of
renown which you so justly have deserved. Your country shall pay her
grateful tribute of applause. Even the children of your most inveterate
enemies, ashamed to tell from whom they sprang, while they in secret,
curse their stupid, cruel parents, shall join the general voice of
gratitude to those who broke the fetters which their fathers forged.

Having redeemed your country, and secured the blessing to future
generations, who, fired by your example, shall emulate your virtues, and
learn from you the heavenly art of making millions happy; with
heart-felt joy, with transports all your own, you cry, the glorious work
is done. Then drop the mantle to some young Elisha, and take your seats
with kindred spirits in your native skies.


[1] This Oration was delivered on the 6th of March, and not on the 5th,
being 103 days before his death on Bunker Hill.

[2] This Oration is placed at the end of this work.

[3] At the battle of Lexington, the British had but 4000 men in Boston.
Before the battle of Bunker Hill, they had been reinforced.

[4] After Mr. Gray had been shot through the body, and had fallen dead
on the ground, a bayonet was pushed through his skull; a part of the
bone being broken, his brains fell out upon the pavement.

[5] The patience with which this people have borne the repeated injuries
which have been heaped upon them, and their unwillingness to take any
sanguinary measures, has, very injudiciously, been ascribed to
cowardice, by persons both here and in Great Britain. I most heartily
wish, that an opinion, so erroneous in itself, and so fatal in its
consequences, might be utterly removed before it be too late; and I
think, nothing further necessary to convince every intelligent man, that
the conduct of this people is owing to the tender regard which they have
for their fellow men, and an utter abhorrence to the shedding of human
blood, than a little attention to their general temper and disposition,
discovered when they cannot be supposed to be under any apprehension of
danger to themselves. I will only mention the universal detestation
which they shew to every act of cruelty, by whom and upon whomsoever
committed, the mild spirit of their laws; the very few crimes to which
capital penalties were annexed; and the very great backwardness which
both courts and juries discover, in condemning persons charged with
capital crimes. But if any should think this observation not to the
purpose, I readily appeal to those gentlemen of the army who have been
in the camp, or in the field, with the Americans.

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 - in relation to the fifth of March massacre, and the battle of Bunker Hill" ***

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