On this INDEPENDENCE DAY, 4 July 2018, we would like to "spin a yarn"* of true defiance, gallantry and courage of "A TRUE PATRIOT"** - The venerable Dr. Joseph Warren of the Town of Boston, Massachusetts Bay
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
In commemoration of the massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston, on the evening of the fifth of March, 1770, Dr. Warren exerted himself to give an oration in 1775 with lofty spirit and great energy in the Old South Church which was filled to excess with not only townsfolk, but officers and soldiers of the royal service.
Note that it was openly avowed by said officers and soldiery of the aforementioned royal service in Boston, that whoever shall attempt any formal speech of the occasion shall answer for it with their life.
Dr. Warren, undaunted and focused, solicited the appointment of orator for this occasion. On this day in the Old South Church, the soldiers and officers of the royal service lined the the pulpit and avenues leading to it. Dr. Warren advanced to the pulpit from the rear, and, unaffected by the hostile array before him and around him, delivered the oration!
An unknown, yet eloquent writer at the scene commented, "The scene was sublime, A patriot, in whom the flush of youth and the grace and dignity of manhood were combined, stood armed in the sanctuary of God, to animate and encourage the sons of liberty, and hurl DEFIANCE at their oppressors. The orator commenced with the early history of the country, described the tenure by which we held our liberties and property, the affection we had constantly shown the parent country, boldly told them how, and by whom these blessings of life had been violated. There was in this appeal to Britain- in this description of suffering, agony, and horror, a calm and high-souled DEFIANCE, which must have chilled the blood of every sensible foe. Such another hour has seldom happened in the history of man, and it is not surpassed in the records of nations."
A few weeks later, Dr. Warren, then President of the Provincial Congress, put his "being behind his brevity of avowed convictions" and entered the field of battle in April 1775 at West Cambridge being in attendance with the Committee of Safety, awaiting the soldiery of the royal service returning from Concord and Lexington. He went out in the company of General Heath to repel them. A sharp engagement ensued and Dr. Warren received a haircut from a passing musket ball, cutting off one of his curls. He thus gained a reputation for his gallantry and talents on the battlefield.
On the fourteenth of June he was chosen a major-general of the Massachusetts forces. Two days afterwards, in a conversation with Elbridge Gerry, respecting the determination of Congress to take possession of Bunker's Hill, he said, that for himself he was opposed to the measure, but as the majority had decided upon it, he would hazard his life to carry it into effect. Mr. Gerry remonstrated with him, and concluded by saying, "As surely as you go there you will be slain." Warren replied with enthusiasm, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."- It is pleasant and honorable to die for one's country. These principles were sealed with his blood. As soon as he made his appearance on the field of battle, the veteran commander of the day, Colonel Prescott, proffered Warren the command, but he declined taking any other part than that of volunteer, and added that he came to learn the art of war from an experienced soldier, whose orders he should be happy to obey. Borrowing a musket from a soldier who was retiring, he mingled in the thickest of the fight, where his example encouraged the troops to deeds of honor and bravery. When the battle was decided in favor of the British, and the retreat of the Americans commenced, a ball struck Warren on the head, and he died in the trenches. His death caused the deepest sorrow in the community, and the sacrifice of so noble a victim produced a stronger determination on the part of the colonists to preserve their rights and liberties.
FREEMAN 2 July 2018
* excerpts of "the yarn" taken from Frank Moore's AMERICAN ELOQUENCE, VOL. 1, 1895
** Dr. Warren contributed several spirited articles to the Boston Gazette, under the signature of A TRUE PATRIOT.