“Joseph Warren to the Preston Committee
Boston, Aug. 24, 1774.
Gentlemen, -We received by Capt Belcher your letter of the 20th, and the sum of money you were kind enough to send for the support of our poor. It gives us pleasure amidst our sufferings to find our Brethren determined to assist and support us while we are struggling for American Freedom. Our Enemies, we know, will use every Artifice that Hell can suggest and human power can execute to enslave us, but we are determined not to submit.- We choose to effect our salvation from bondage by policy, rather than by Arms; considering that the blood of Freemen who fight for their Country is of more value than the blood of a Soldiery who fight for pay. We doubt not but a virtuous Continental adherence to [the] non-importation, non-exportation, and non-Consumption agreement, will produce such Changes in Britain as will compel them to give us every thing we wish. But if this should fail, and we should be obliged to seek redress in the way you have hinted, we flatter ourselves that we shall act like men, and merit the approbation of all America. The conduct of our adversaries is to us astonishing.- Policy is no more their guide than Justice. They have shut their eyes against daylight and if they lead the British Nation into the Pitt they have digged for us, the blame must be laid to their own door.- The motions of our Governor are like those of other machines – they move as they are directed. He is clad in the garb of Ministerial instructions, and has declared his determination implicitly to obey them.- We shall always receive with gratitude your advice and assistance, not doubting that the end of our warfare will be Freedom to America.
We are with sincerity, Gentlemen, your very humble servants,
Per order of the Comm. of Donations.
P.S. – The arms have been several times detained in going out of town, but never finally stopt. Even if a private gentleman carries one out of town with him for Diversion, he is not permitted to bring it back again.
To the Gentlemen the Committee of the Town of Preston”
Source: Boston Committee of Donations Letter Book, Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, Ms. N-2038 Tall, pp. 10-11. Transcribed by me from the original manuscript. Also appears in its entirety in Richard Frothingham, The Life and Times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1865, pp. 346-347; and Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, 1858, 4th series, iv, 54.
Commentary: Joseph Warren was an active participant on the Boston Committee of Donations, a group charged with acknowledging and distributing donations coming from Patriots in other locations.
In the aftermath of the December 1773 Destruction of the Tea, Boston and Massachusetts were oppressed by the Boston Port Act and other Parliamentary measures collectively labeled by later historians as the Intolerable Acts. Instead of separating Massachusetts from the rest of British North America, these repressive measures tended to unite the American Patriots in opposition to Tory ministerial policies.
In this letter Warren exhibits his crisp description of the Patriots’ situation, strategy, and gratitude for the town of Preston’s support. His communications are notable for memorable turns of phrase and inclusion of details not covered in the press. He manages an appealing and personal tone while describing grand political events unfolding in the Summer of 1774.