[Joseph Warren to Arthur Lee]
“Boston, Feb. 20, 1775.
Dear Sir, -My friend, Mr. [Samuel] Adams, favored me with the sight of your last letter. I am sincerely glad of your return to England, as I think your assistance was never more wanted there than at present. It is truly astonishing that Administration should have a doubt of the resolution of the Americans to make the last appeal rather than submit to wear the yoke prepared for their necks. We have waited with a degree of patience which is seldom to be met with: but I will venture to assert, that there has not been any great alloy of cowardice; though both friends and enemies seem to suspect us of want of courage. I trust the event, which I confess I think is near at hand, will confound our enemies, and rejoice those who wish well to us. It is time for Britain to take some serious steps towards reconciliation with her colonies. The people here are weary of watching the measures of those who are endeavoring to enslave them: they say they have been spending their time for ten years in. counteracting the plans of their adversaries. They, many of them, begin to think that the difference between [them] will never be amicably settled; but that they shall always be subject to new affronts from the caprice of every British minister. They even sometimes speak of an open rupture with Great Britain, as a state preferable to the present uncertain condition of affairs. And although it is true that the people have yet a very warm affection for the British nation, yet it sensibly decays. They are loyal subjects to the king; but they conceive that they do not swerve from their allegiance by opposing any measures taken by any man or set of men to deprive them of their liberties. They conceive that they are the king’s enemies who would destroy the Constitution; for the king is annihilated when the Constitution is destroyed.
It is not yet too late to accommodate the dispute amicably. But I am of opinion, that, if once General Gage should lead his troops into the country, with design to enforce the late Acts of Parliament, Great Britain may take her leave, at least of the New-England colonies, and, if I mistake not, of all America. If there is any wisdom in the nation, God grant it may be speedily called forth! Every day, every hour, widens the breach. A Richmond, a Chatham, a Shelburne, a Camden, with their noble associates, may yet repair it; and it is a work which none but the greatest of men can conduct. May you be successful and happy in your labors for the public safety!
I am, sir, with great respect, your very humble servant,
Source: Original autographed MS signed letter is in the Arthur Lee Papers, 1741-1882 (bulk) 1766-1787, Boston: Harvard University Houghton Library, Series II, 32a. Text published in Life of Arthur Lee, LL.D, Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1829, pp. 264-265; and Richard Frothingham, Life and Times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1865, pp. 418-419.
Commentary: During the winter of 1774-75 Joseph Warren kept colonial agent Lee and other key Patriots informed of the unstable state of affairs in New England. His appraisal of the implications of a possible foray by General Gage Boston into the Massachusetts countryside was prescient.