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Joseph Warren

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In 1775, Joseph Warren fought valiantly and was one of the last Americans to leave Breed's Hill, but was struck in the back of the head by a musket ball and died instantly. He was a respected physician and patriot. He lived in the center of revolutionary activity in the 1760s and 1770s, but was cheated of greater fame by an early death in the opening round of the War of Independence. He was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where his father was a farmer and community leader. Warren graduated from Harvard College in 1759, then served briefly as master of the Roxbury grammar school. In 1772, Warren's prominence was recognized when he was selected to deliver the commemorative oration on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre. He worked closely with Samuel Adams on the committee of correspondence. When Adams left to attend the first continental congress in 1774, Warren assumed leadership of the radical cause in Boston. He authored the Suffolk Resolves. (A strongly worded statement of the emerging American position that was endorsed by the Congress.) In March 1775, despite receiving threats on his life, Warren again delivered the annual speech honoring the fallen in the Boston Massacre. Old South Church was so full that the speaker had to enter the building by climbing a ladder and crawling through a window behind the pulpit. His oration was well received, except by the British officers in attendance who heckled him. On April 18, Warren made the decision to warn surrounding areas about British troop movements and dispatched Paul Revere and William Dawes for that purpose. During the British return march from Lexington and Concord, Warren exposed himself to enemy fire repeatedly in order to reach and treat the wounded. With the empire and infant nation engaged in war, Warren worked feverishly to organize the American military effort. In June, after learning of the British move to Charlestown, Warren went to Bunker Hill to offer his services as a volunteer.

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