My name is Dr. Joseph Warren. I was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, on June 10, 1741. My father, Joseph Warren, was a farmer and a well-respected member of the community. He introduced the “Warren Russet” apple to our area, but he died suddenly when he fell off a ladder in the orchard.
I was educated at Roxbury Latin School and was accepted into Harvard College, graduating in 1759. Students at Harvard were ranked by social standing, so I was near the bottom of the list when I arrived. With hard work and a quick wit, my status gradually improved. In fact, I was able to make friends with classmates and influential families involved in the patriot movement like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere.
After teaching at Roxbury Latin School for a short time, I apprenticed as a physician with Dr. James Lloyd and opened my own medical practice in 1764. I was quite successful, gaining a reputation for curing smallpox by vaccination, but, as oppression of the colonies by the British King George III worsened, I found my true mission and passion as part of the revolutionary movement.
In 1767, the British Parliament passed the Townshend Acts taxing tea, glass, lead, paint, and paper to pay for the French-Indian War. I was infuriated and wrote a series of articles published in the Boston Gazette under the pseudonym of “A True Patriot”. The British tried to arrest the publishers, but no grand jury would indict them. Then I became allied with the Sons of Liberty and my friend Samuel Adams who valued my wise counsel, trustworthiness, and rebellious spirit.
After the Boston Massacre, I wrote and delivered a fiery speech on the anniversary of that atrocity and became a member of the Samuel Adam’s Committee of Correspondence. Two years later, I wrote the “Suffolk Resolves” in which I called out King George III for violating the rights of his subjects and urged my fellow citizens to boycott British goods, stop paying taxes, and defy the orders of British officials. Paul Revere took a copy of the Resolves to Philadelphia where they were approved by the First Continental Congress
I had lots of citizens coming in and out of my medical office in my house, and I ran a spy ring for the Sons of Liberty. In April 1775, I learned that British General Thomas Gage planned to raid the colonists’ armament cache in Concord. I knew that the weapons and supplies had already been moved, but I was concerned that the British would arrest and hang Samuel Adams and John Hancock who were hiding out in nearby Lexington.
So, I sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their “midnight ride” to warn them that the British were coming. The Minute Men confronted them on Lexington Green the next morning. I rode up to Concord that morning and was part of the militia that defeated the British and sent them running back to Boston badly beaten.
On June 14, 1775, I was appointed a major general by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. That was quite an honor for me. My commission has not yet taken effect, but I just heard that Colonel William Prescott is preparing to defend Bunker Hill against the British. My countrymen need me there, and I am on the way.
Dr. Joseph Warren is known to have fought on the front lines at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. After repelling two British assaults on their fortified position on Breed’s Hill, the colonists ran out of ammunition as the British began their third assault. During the colonists’ retreat, Joseph Warren was fatally shot in the head and died instantly.
The life and premature but valiant death of Dr. Joseph Warren serves as an inspiration to all who value freedom.
The philosophy of Dr. Joseph Warren in his own words:
Stain not the glory of your worthy ancestors, but like them resolve never to part with your birthright; be wise in your deliberations, and determined in your exertions for the preservation of your liberties. Follow not the dictates of passion, but enlist yourselves under the sacred banner of reason; use every method in your power to secure your rights.Joseph Warren
On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.Joseph Warren
Dr. Dan’s guest on Freedom Forum Radio this weekend is Christian Di Spigna, the founder and CEO of the Dr. Joseph Warren Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping preserve Warren’s legacy through education and research. Di Spigna graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University with a degree in History. After decades of groundbreaking research, he authored “Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero.”
Part one of this three-part interview begins this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, December 4-5 on WJRB 95.1 FM and streamed live over the Internet. Part two airs Saturday and December 11-12, and part three airs Saturday and Sunday, December 18-19. All programs are available by podcast following air time here.