When Liberty is the Prize, Who Would Shun the Warfare ?

in by Warren

 “Boston, Aug. 24, 1774.

Gentlemen, – Your elegant and benevolent favor of the lst instant yielded us that support and consolation amid our distresses, which the generous sympathy of assured friends can never fail to inspire. ‘Tis the part of this people to frown on danger, face to face ; to stand the focus of rage and malevolence of the inexorable enemies of American freedom. Permit us to glory in the dangerous distinction; and be assured, that, while actuated by the spirit and confident of the aid of such noble auxiliaries, we are compelled to support the conflict. When liberty is the prize, who would shun the warfare ? Who would stoop to waste a coward thought on life? We esteem no sacrifice too great, no conflict too severe, to redeem our inestimable rights and privileges. ‘Tis for you, brethren, for ourselves, for our united posterity, we hazard all; and permit us humbly to hope, that such a measure of vigilance, fortitude, and perseverance will still be afforded us, that, by patiently suffering and nobly daring, we may eventually secure that more precious than Hesperian fruit, the golden apples of freedom. We eye the hand of Heaven in the rapid and wonderful union of the colonies; and that generous and universal emulation to prevent the sufferings of the people of this place gives a prelibation of the cup of deliverance. May unerring Wisdom dictate the measures to be recommended by the [Continental] congress! May a smiling God conduct this people through the thorny paths of difficulty, and finally gladden our hearts with success!

We are, gentlemen, your friends in the cause of liberty,

Joseph Warren, Chairman

To the Committee of Correspondence at Stonington [Connecticut].”

Source: Original manuscript in Boston Committee of Correspondence 1772-1784. New York: New York Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. This letter appears in its entirety in Richard Frothingham, Life and Times of Joseph Warren. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co. 1865, pages 345-346. An original is said by Frothingham to be in the possession of the Stonington town clerk. I wonder if it is still in Stonington’s library or historical society.  A full transcription also appears in Gideon H. Hollister, History of Connecticut. 1855, Vol. 2, p. 157

Commentary: Joseph Warren’s rousing words and memorable phrasing are on full display in this Committee of Correspondence letter. Written late in the contentious summer of 1774, it was just weeks prior to the convening of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

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