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The American Revolution
First Shots of War
Letter from the Massachusetts Provicial Congress, May 3, 1775

The Second Continental Congress received the following letter from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. What situation does the letter describe? What primary action do these legislators urge upon the Continental Congress?

View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


In Provincial Congress, Watertown, May 3, 1775.

To the Honorable American Continental Congress, to be conven'd at Philadelphia, on the tenth of May Instant.

May it please your honours,

The Congress of this colony, impressed with the deepest Concern for their Country, under the present critical and alarming state of its public Affairs, beg leave, with the most respectful submission, whilst acting in support of the Cause of America, to request the direction and assistance of your respectable Assembly.

The inclosed Packet, containing Copies of the Depositions, which we have despatched for London, also an Address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain, and a Letter to our Colony Agent, Benjamin Franklin, Esqr. are humbly submitted to your Consideration.

The sanguinary Zeal of the ministerial Army, to ruin and destroy the Inhabitants of this Colony, in the Opinion of this Congress, hath rendered the Establishment of an Army indispensably necessary. We have accordingly passed an unanimous Resolve for thirteen thousand six hundred Men, to be forth with raised by this Colony; and proposals are made by us to the Congress of New Hampshire, and Governments of Rhode Island and Connecticut Colonies, for furnishing men in the same proportion. The sudden Exigency of our public Affairs, precluded the possibility of waiting for your direction in these important measures; more especially, as a considerable Reinforcement from Great Britain is daily expected in this Colony, and we are now reduced to the sad alternative of defending ourselves by arms, or submitting to be slaughtered.

With the greatest deference, we beg leave to suggest, that a power full Army, on the side of America, hath been consider'd, by this Congress, as the only mean left to stem the rapid Progress of a tyrannical Ministry. Without a force, superior to our Enemies, we must reasonably expect to become the Victims of their relentless fury: With such a force, we may still have hopes of seeing an immediate End put to the inhuman Ravages of mercenary Troops in America, and the wicked authors of our Miseries, brought to condign punishment, by the just Indignation of our Brethren in Great Britain.

We hope that this Colony will, at all Times, be ready to spend and be spent in the Cause of America. It is, nevertheless, a Misfortune greatly operating to its Disadvantage, that it has a great Number of Sea Port Towns, exposed to the approach of the Enemy by Sea; from many of which, the Inhabitants have removed, and are now removing their Families and Effects, to avoid Destruction from Ships of War: These, we apprehend, will be generally distressed from want of subsistence, and disabled from contributing Aid for supporting the Forces of the Colony; but we have the greatest Confidence in the wisdom and ability of the Continent to support us, so far as it shall appear necessary for supporting the common cause of the American Colonies.

We also inclose several Resolves for impowering and directing our Receiver General to borrow the Sum of one hundred thousand Pounds, Lawful Money, and to issue his Notes for the same; it being the only measure, which we cou'd have recourse to, for supporting our Forces; And we request your assistance in rendring our measures effectual, by giving our Notes a currency through the Continent.

Joseph Warren, President, P. T.
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View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.