To the Committee of Middletown [Connecticut]
Boston, November 17, 1774.
Gentlemen, -Your kind letter of the 17th of October came safe to hand. When we reflect on the great importance of the controversy in which we are engaged; when we consider that America will be free and happy or servilely wretched, according as we conduct ourselves, – we tremble. But that we are contending for our rights, -that the continent supports us, -makes us confident and determined. The plan which has been so long concerted, to deprive America of her rights, seems now to be executing-, and that the ministry have chosen the town of Boston as their first victim.
That we are sequestered from all America, for a criterion by which they shall determine how far the idea of despotic government is compatible with the sentiments of free-born Americans, gives us no concern, because the spirit which is discovered in Middletown has diffused itself through the continent. Many have been the devices, subtle have been ‘he schemes, and low the artifices, made use of to sow dissension and division: but the virtue of our country has risen superior to them all; and we see a band now formed which will encourage our friends and confound our enemies. The Ministry have hitherto kept the people of Great Britain ignorant of the true state of America. They have by bribes and falsehoods deceived the nation. Truth and justice were never so effectually, enveloped in the thick clouds of calumny and detraction. The mercenary writers they have employed to misrepresent, vilify, and abuse the Bostonians, afford us a striking instance of the base methods they pursue to ruin us. We have, however, the best grounds to think that the tide is turning in our favor. The eyes of the people of Britain begin to be opened. ” The coolness, temper, and firmness of the Americans’ proceedings, the unanimity of all the colonies in the same sentiments of their rights, and of the injustice offered to Boston, and the patience with which those injuries are at present borne, without the least appearance of submission, have -a good deal surprised and disappointed our enemies; and the tone of public conversation, which has been so violently against us, begins evidently to turn:” This is the language of as good a friend as America has in England, and whose authority we can rely on. And, if this most desirable change had taken place before the proceedings of the American Congress were known in England, what may we expect upon their being known? Had not the present ministry discovered such rancor and such malice in their proceedings in respect to America, we should expect every thing to our wishes. But we have had such full demonstration of their diabolical designs against us, that we can look for nothing from them but what our own virtue and spirit can extort.
The regular, firm, and spirited conduct of the continent, if they should even fail of success, will eternally redound to their honor; and, should they meet that success which their cause merits, they must be the happiest people on whom the sun shines. The propriety and zeal with which the town of Middletown have treated the indignity which is offered to their country, seems to be a renewing that glorious ardor which warmed the breasts of their progenitors. It is a disposition which has heretofore been attended with prosperity. The support which they have formerly so liberally afforded the town of Boston in their sufferings demands our warmest gratitude. This recent instance of their good wishes for our success, and the readiness and forwardness which they discover to do every thing in their power for maintaining and preserving the rights of their country, and for supporting and feeding any who are immediate sufferers by the vengeance of their enemies, cannot fail to excite gratitude from every friend to the rights of mankind, and from the town of Boston in particular. We are not insensible, although there is a probability that our grievances will be redressed, that every thing yet depends on our own virtue and resolution; great patience, vigilance, and public spirit are still necessary. The point has been so long and so strenuously contended for, that our enemies never will give it up till they are compelled by the last and most unavoidable necessity. Our cause is so just, and we are so sensible how necessary it is to defend it, that we have no doubt, but, with the blessing of heaven upon us, and upon the many good friends engaged for us, we shall be able to hold on and hold out until oppression, injustice, and tyranny shall be superseded by freedom, justice, and good government. And we cannot but flatter ourselves, that, while we are contending for justice for ourselves, we shall be instrumental in calling back that virtue which of late years has fled from the councils of our parent country.
We are, gentlemen, your friends and obliged humble servants,
Per order of the Committee of Donations.
P.S. -We have just now, by Captain Sheppard, from London, received His Majesty’s proclamation for dissolving the late Parliament of Great Britain, whose conduct respecting America will be remembered with horror through all succeeding generations.
Source: Ms in Committee of Donations Letterbook, Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, Ms. N-2038 Tall, pp. 58-60. Published in Frothingham, Richard Life and Times of Joseph Warren. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1865, pp. 391-393.
Commentary: Joseph Warren, on behalf of the Committee of Donations, thanks the Middletown, Connecticut Committee of Correspondence for its donation to the Town of Boston. Warren’s combination of a crisp vision for the assertion of American Liberty, exposition of the requirements of the moment within the bigger picture, and projection of an appealing personality, are attributes on display in this letter.
The Committee of Donations was established in 1774 by the Town of Boston to receive and distribute donations in kind and money to relieve distressed townspeople whose livelihoods were disrupted by the Port Bill. The committee morphed in purpose and membership over time and circumstances. As the winter of 1774-1775 arrived and wore on, the Committee of Donations functioned as an arm of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, and then, after the outbreak of fighting on April 19, 1775, as the supply and logistics function of the provincial army. One can trace some of the roots of the Continental Army quartermaster organization in the Boston Committee of Donations.