America will be Speedily Reduced to the Most Abject Slavery Unless it is Immediately Defended by Arms

General John Stark of New Hampshire

in by Warren

Date: April 23, 1775

“In Provincial Congress, Watertown,

Resolved, unanimously, That James Sullivan, Esquire, a Member of this Congress, be immediately despatched to the Colony of New-Hampshire, as a Delegate from this body, to deliver to the Provincial Congress there the following Letter; and further inform them of the present situation of this Colony, and report the effect of his mission to this Congress, as soon as possible.”

“Watertown, April 23, 1775.

Before this letter can reach you, we doubt not you have been sufficiently notified of the late alarming Resolutions of the British Parliament, wherein we see ourselves declared Rebels, and all our sister Colonies in New-England, in common with us, marked out for the severest punishments.  In consequence thereof, General Gage has suddenly commenced hostilities by a large body of Troops under his command, secretly detached in the night of the 18th instant, which, on the morning ensuing, had actually begun the slaughter of the innocent inhabitants, in the very heart of the Country, before any intentions of that kind were suspected.  And although the roused virtue of our brethren in the neighbourhood soon compelled them to precipitate retreat, they marked their savage route with depredations, ruin, and butcheries hardly to be matched by the armies of any civilised Nation on the globe.

Justly alarmed by these manaeuvres, vast multitudes of the good people of this and the neighbouring Colonies, are now assembled in the vicinity of Boston for the protection of the Country.  The gates of that devoted Town are shut, and the miserable inhabitants are pent up there, with a licentious soldiery, as in one common prison.  Large reinforcements of the Troops under General Gage are hourly expected; and no reason is left us to doubt that his whole force, as soon as colleted, will be employed for the destruction, first of this, and then of our sister Colonies engaged in the same interesting cause; and that all America will be speedily reduced to the most abject slavery, unless it is immediately defended by arms.

Unavoidably reduced to this necessity, by circumstances that will justify us before God and the impartial world, this Congress, after solemn deliberation and application to Heaven for direction in the case, have this day unanimously resolved, That it is our duty immediately to establish an Army for the maintenance of the most invaluable rights of human nature, and the immediate defence of this Colony, where the first attack is made; that 30,000 men are necessary to be forthwith raised in the New-England Colonies for that purpose, and that of that force 13,600 shall be established by this Colony without delay.

We have not a doubt of the virtue of the Colony of New-Hampshire, no less engaged then ourselves in the glorious cause at stake, and equally involved in the miseries that must ensue, should it be lost.  In testimony of our reliance on you, we have sent this express to give you the earliest notice of these Resolutions, and the circumstances that have necessitated them; and earnestly to request your speediest concurrence and such assistance in this most important cause, as the present urgent necessity demands, and the many former evidences we have had of the spirit and firmness of the Colony of New-Hampshire give us the highest reason to expect.  We are, gentlemen, your most obedient humble servants,

Joseph Warren, Pres’t pro tem.

P. S.  The great confusion in this Colony prevent our being able to send with this letter such depositions as might give full and particular information of the facts above referred to; but measures are taking for that purpose, and we shall not fail to transmit the result of them by the first opportunity.”

Source: Peter Force, American Archives, Fourth Series, Volume II, pp. 377-378

Commentary: This is very similar to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress’ appeal to Connecticut, written on the same day, for troops in support of the American Siege of Boston. New Hampshire and Connecticut, as well as Rhode Island, responded to such appeals in a spirited fashion. John Stark of New Hampshire and Israel Putnam of Connecticut were important field commanders during the subsequent Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston. Thousands of enlisted soldiers from those provinces participated in the Siege.

John Stark of New Hampshire (1728-1822), pictured above, joined the Siege of Boston as a colonel of the New Hampshire militia. His commission is dated April 23, 1775. Stark distinguished himself as a battlefield commander at the Battles of Bunker Hill and Bennington.

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