Born in 1741, Joseph Warren, the son of a respected farmer, graduated from Harvard and went on to study medicine. He married 18-year-old heiress Elizabeth Hooten in 1764, but she died 9 years later, leaving him with four children. While practicing medicine in Boston, Joseph became friends with Samuel Adams and John Hancock as well as other radical leaders of the Sons of Liberty. He quickly became caught up in the fight for freedom from Tyranny. Here are just a few things he did:
- He was a member of the Boston committee that assembled a report on the following month's Boston Massacre.
- Royal officials tried to place his publishers Edes and Gill on trial for an incendiary newspaper essay Warren wrote under the pseudonym A True Patriot,
- In 1774, he authored a song, "Free America," which was published in colonial newspapers.
- Warren was appointed to the Boston Committee of Correspondence. He twice delivered orations in commemoration of the Massacre, the second time in March 1775 while the town was occupied by army troops.
- Warren drafted the Suffolk Resolves, which were endorsed by the Continental Congress to advocate resistance to Parliament's Coercive Acts
- He was appointed President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, the highest position in the revolutionary government.
He took arms and fought in the ensuing battle, nearly dying when a musket shot clipped his wig. When his mother begged him not to risk his life again, he replied
"Where danger is, dear mother," he answered, "there must your son be. Now is no time for any of American’s children to shrink from any hazard. I will set her free or die.
On 14 June he was chosen second major-general of the Massachusetts forces, and after hearing that the British troops had landed at Charlestown, he rode over to Bunker Hill. As he was endeavoring to rally the militia, Gen. Warren was struck in the head by a musket-ball, orphaning his four children. In April, 1778, Gen. Benedict Arnold, who had conceived a warm friendship for Dr. Warren while at Cambridge, came to their relief. Arnold contributed $500 for their education, and succeeded in obtaining from congress the amount of a major-general's half-pay, to be applied to their support from the date of the father's death until the youngest child should be of age.