Historically Yours — Joseph Warren

Elizabeth Davis

Joseph Warren was born in the Province of Massachusetts Bay to Joseph and Mary (Stevens) Warren on June 11, 1741. His early education was obtained at Roxbury Latin School. He then enrolled in Harvard College where he graduated in 1759. After teaching at Roxbury Latin for a year, he studied medicine and became the youngest doctor in Boston at the age of 22.  

Warren and Elizabeth Hooten were joined in Holy Matrimony on Sept. 6, 1764. Their union produced four children before her death in 1773. 

It was while Warren was practicing medicine in Boston that he became involved in politics. He met leaders of the Sons of Liberty like John Hancock and Samuel Adams. 

Following the Boston Tea Party and the passage of the Intolerable Acts of 1774, Warren was appointed to the Boston Committee of Correspondence. It was he who drafted the Suffolk Resolves, which were endorsed by the Continental Congress and were a major step toward revolution. For this, he was appointed President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. 

As General Gage prepared to leave Boston on April 18, 1775, to raid the colonials’ munitions in Concord, it was Warren who sent William Dawes and Paul Revere on their midnight rides to warn Hancock and Adams. 

During the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Warren coordinated and led the militia to help William Heath fight the British army when they returned to Boston. 

The Provincial Congress commissioned Warren as a major general on June 14, 1775. 

Days later, as the militia was forming for the Battle of Bunker Hill, Warren asked where the heaviest fighting would be. General Israel Putnam pointed to Breed’s Hill. Warren was asked to serve as their commander, but declined citing that Putnam and Prescott were more experienced. 

Joseph Warren was killed in action in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. 

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News for over ten years. She has covered the Civil War, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.davis@gmail.com.