Who was Joseph Warren?

If you’ve ever looked online for Warren County, VA information, you’re likely as not to land on Warren County, PA — or one of the other fourteen Warren Counties. Who was Warren, and why did he matter? What prompted so many namesakes?

(History buffs, Meet Dr Warren and watch the trailer for an upcoming documentary!)   

Joseph Warren was the eldest of four sons born to a Roxbury, MA farmer. He followed his maternal grandfather’s lead in becoming a Harvard-trained physician, and married and had four children before embarking on the acts that would lead to his place in American history.  

In 1767 Warren was prompted into activism by the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts. Warren wrote a series of strongly worded pieces in the Boston Gazette under the pseudonym A True Patriot. Warren’s friendship with Samuel Adams and his Masonic tie with Paul Revere drew him into the budding separatist movement. He was involved in the Boston Massacre and with militia organizing and arms procurement.

Warren famously sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their midnight ride to Lexington and Concord on April 18, 1775, to warn of the British invasion!  

After the fighting at Lexington and Concord, Warren left his practice in the care of his assistant and became deeply involved in preparation for upcoming battle, to the point that he was made second general in command of Massachusetts forces in 1775.

When the British landed at Charleston, Warren did not take command, but entered into battle as a regular volunteer. On the third British assault at Bunker Hill, Warren was struck and killed by a ball between the eyes, becoming an instant hero. He was put in an unmarked mass grave by British forces, and his remains were later identified by Paul Revere, who recognized the pair of false teeth he had made for Warren. 

The day he died, Warren became the embodiment of the sacrifices made by so many during our nation’s early days. In his short life he was instrumental in pushing toward independence, fighting with both his words and his sword. 

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