• Janet Uhlar

There was barely enough light in the wee hours of the June 17th morning as Dr. Joseph Warren's horse trotted along the dirt road. As president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Warren sat in lengthy meetings the day before preparing for today's events. It had been 2 months since the colonists faced the British in battle at Lexington and Concord. Today, the devastation and horror of battle would be faced again on a hill in Boston.

Bunker Hill was a strategic location overseeing the Mystic River--one of three hills the British intended to occupy. The colonists had to beat them to it.

The strategy and tactics of the day's battle were sound -- as sound as they could be for a quickly assembled ragtag, untrained army. If all went according to plan, the day would end in a colonial victory. If all went according to plan... A ragtag army defending the hill in an earthwork fort

still being created as Warren made this 4 mile trek from Watertown to Cambridge before sunrise. A ragtag army daring to face the attack of the British Regulars -- the most powerful army on Earth.

With such thoughts pouring through his head all night, Warren couldn't possibly sleep. He would oversee a meeting of the Provincial Congress in Cambridge in the morning, and then his plan was to go to the hill and stand alongside the men he encouraged to turn out -- men he played a role in ordering to do battle that day.

Perhaps the cooler early morning air would clear his thoughts, and he prayed it would ease the pounding, nauseating headache that now seemed to plague him daily. Tossing aside his bed clothes, he purposefully chose his finest jacket and waistcoat to adorn himself in for the day. To celebrate our victory, he attempted to tell himself, though the nagging premonition he felt the evening before lingered. He remembered his words to his long-time friend and patient Betsey Palmer as he dined with her family. He told her he was going to the hill the following day and he wasn't coming off. Betsey's astonished response to the words reflected his own astonishment in uttering them. And yet, the words felt certain.

Friend and fellow congressman Elbridge Gerry greeted Warren upon his arrival, immediately noting Warren's sickly appearance. Gerry insisted Warren get some rest. At this point, he was eager to oblige. As Warren slowly ascended the stairs to the bed chamber, he reminded Gerry to awaken him for the morning meeting, and stated that he intended to go to the hill after.

Elbridge Gerry objected, telling Warren he could not risk his life as he was needed in counsel. Warren stopped his ascent and quietly responded, It is right and just to die for one's country.

Warren fell into a sound sleep. The morning broke. The cannon fire boomed in the distance as the British Warships spotted the earthen fort upon the hill.

Gerry did not attempt to wake his friend. The Provincial Congress met and adjourned, leaving the minutes for President Warren to view when he awoke. And, Joseph Warren slept...

  • Janet Uhlar

Josiah Quincy, Jr. was born in Boston on a frigid day in February 1744. Though a frail child, he grew up within a strong, already prominent family. He was the youngest of 4, and especially adored his brother Samuel, nine years his senior. Following in Samuel's footsteps, Josiah attended Harvard and studied law.

Josiah presented an impassioned dissertation at Harvard's 1766 commencement on Liberty. Among those in attendance were Sam Adams and James Otis -- already well known by the powers in Britain for their objection to the burdensome taxation upon the colonies without the privilege of representation. Adams and Otis immediately invited the young orator to join an elusive, secretive group they had established now referred as the "Long Room Club."

Though a list of the members of this club was never officially kept, history has revealed the identity of many: John Adams, John Hancock, Joseph Warren, Paul Revere -- as well as the Quincy brothers Samuel and Josiah. Most members were Harvard or Yale graduates -- students of World History and the Enlightenment. (Today we might label them as "progressives.") The Long Room Club was the think-tank of the pre-Revolution years. Their main focus was to communicate with friends in Great Britain in an attempt to bring harmony between the colonies and Mother Country. A second focus was to educate the public on what was happening. From this group came the Committee of Donations--putting jobless men to work doing needed "infrastructure" in Boston. The Sons of Liberty sprouted from this club. And, perhaps most important was the vital Inter-Colonial Committee of Correspondence, created by young Josiah as a means of getting factual information from one colony to the next. (Were it not for this, the First Continental Congress may never have taken place!)

Josiah's sincere belief in Liberty was not practiced only for American Colonists. At one point, Josiah's physician Dr. Joseph Warren made clear to him that unless he went to a warmer climate he would not survive the winter. Josiah had contracted consumption--now referred to as tuberculosis. When traveling through the Southern Colonies, he frequently journaled the cruel treatment of those held in bondage. And, when the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre found themselves in need of legal representation, he took on the job even the Tory attorneys in Boston rejected.

By the time of the Boston Massacre, Samuel Quincy had been offered the prestigious position of Solicitor General for the Massachusetts Bay Colony (likened to today's State Attorney General.) Those in great power making Samuel the offer in their darkened wisdom knew that a dog doesn't bite the hand that feeds it. Samuel's new position would make him submissive to Great Britain. At first Samuel swore to his friends he would never abandon the purposes of the Long Room Club -- and argued that he could be more effective in having personal attention from those in Parliament. It was not long, however, before Samuel's loyalty to his fellow Bostonians -- even his family -- all but ended.

In a most ironic turn of events, Samuel the newly avowed Loyalist would prosecute the King's troops while his brother Josiah served as their defense. This is a story historians have ignored -- an emotional story of two brothers facing off in the courtroom to represent that which was opposite their political views. Two estranged brothers prophetically displaying the division of the civil war to come.

Historians missed this intensely charged, painful reality of the Boston Massacre Trials. Instead, John Adams takes center stage--most historians completely missing the fact that young Josiah was the attorney the British soldiers turned to.

Josiah had no moral struggle in accepting the case--to him, the sin would be in not accepting. For, if his belief in Liberty was true, it extended to all mankind. Even these British soldiers should be viewed as innocent until proven guilty--should have representation.

Josiah's struggle was with the fact that his zeal for Liberty was known by the powers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Because of this, according to Quincy family tradition, he was denied the esteemed robe of a barrister by the governor. Without the robe, he was not supposed to try a case before a jury. He could do all the foot work to prepare, but could not argue before the jury. He needed an attorney who could. He turned to John Adams.

Adams has received the "glory" from historians for being the attorney who presented the case, and with Josiah dead only a few short years after, Adams barely gave mention of Josiah's leading role in his famous journal. But, it was Josiah who took the case. It was Josiah who laid the groundwork. And, indeed it was Josiah who ultimately dared to argue before the jury without the robe--he was well known and respected by fellow attorneys in Boston for his legal genius and devotion to his profession. No one objected.

Josiah, only 26 years-old defeated the Solicitor General in the courtroom--his brother Samuel.

He would go on to inspire, with his impassioned words, the crowd at Old South Meetinghouse the night of the Boston Tea Party. He would write the response to the Boston Port Bill, which would circulate in Europe.

In September of 1774, Josiah volunteered for a mission to secretly leave the colonies for England. His mission was to gather accurate information on the state of affairs toward the colonies as well as deliver accurate information to friends in Parliament. It was a mission fraught with danger. He might be arrested upon arrival and tried for sedition. If so, he would be brutally executed.

Josiah determined that he, and he alone, had the best chance of carrying out the mission. Another member of the Long Room Club would most certainly be arrested--but he was the brother of the Solicitor General. He defended the British solders and won. And, if even these facts did not protect him, consumption would soon extinguish his life.

While in Great Britain he meet with men in powerful positions. For his own safety, and that of his friends, he was unable to put in writing what he was learning.

In February of 1775, he was summoned back to the colonies by the Continental Congress. They needed to know the intel he had gathered. Before he boarded the ship bound for Boston, the cold, damp winter had already seeped into his lungs. The frigid weeks upon the ocean, with poor nutrition and hygiene only worsened his condition.

Hammock-bound, a sailor sat with him, writing his last words to his beloved wife and father. Josiah shared with the sailor that he had information he could not entrust to writing, and would only share face to face with Sam Adams or Joseph Warren.

Three days from the Massachusetts shore, Josiah succumbed to consumption. No doctor attended him; no loved one held his hand. He left behind a wife and young son; a father who had already lost 2 sons; and friends desperate to know if the blood that was to be shed in the war to come could somehow be prevented.

Josiah is buried in the Hancock Cemetery in Quincy, MA. Few stop to ponder at this sacred grave of an unknown, forgotten hero of the American Revolution. Here lay a man whose courage and determination in facing the challenges presented helped birth a nation he would never see. Indeed. Had he not faced these challenges, America's history would be vastly altered.

Not very many stop to visit the grave or think upon this True Patriot, Josiah Quincy, Jr.

If interested in knowing more, read PORTRAIT OF A PATRIOT by Josiah Quincy Jr., edited by Daniel R. Coquillette and Neil Longley York

Posthumous portrait of Josiah Quincy, Jr. by Gilbert Stuart

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  • Janet Uhlar

I started this webpage when promoting my latest book on the story behind the myth of James "Whitey" Bulger, The Truth Be Damned.

My experience as a juror in his trial forced me to view the depth of corruption within our federal legal/judicial system--further study, and personal experience, exposed the corruption within State legal systems and courts across America.

Our Founding Fathers/Mothers were willing to risk all they had and were to set this nation upon a solid foundation. A main pillar in this foundation was a fair and just legal system. Over the course of decades that pillar has been chipped away. It is crumbling. When it falls, the nation falls too. Is it too late to repair the damage?

Since the close of the Bulger trial in 2013, I have been in an ideological depression. Patriotic holidays lost their meaning. My sorrow for the forgotten heroism of so many that stood (and often fell) to birth and sustain this nation was, at times, overwhelming.

I live in Massachusetts. Here, we set aside April 19th as a holiday. It's referred to as Patriot's Day. Most living in Massachusetts don't know why. They've come to think it's because the Boston Marathon is usually held on that day. Some even believe it's in honor of the local football team... It's not.

It's a day set aside for heroes. Men, and the women and children who supported them, tried for more than 10 long years to reason with the power of Great Britain. Over the tax on tea? No! Although that, sadly, is what most Americans believe. It was over the corruption of power, and what power drives the powerful to do to those less powerful. It was over the fact that the Creator granted to mankind -- all mankind -- the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

When it was obvious that Great Britain was not listening (sending 4.000 soldiers to police the streets of Boston kind of gave it away!) the Massachusetts's colonists continued to watch, hope, wait, and prepare as best they could. What finally pushed them to the precipice of war? The fact that the King was sending 1,000 more troops. A standing army in a time of peace. The time had come. It was not an elated decision, but one of grief and deep concern.

These men, and their families with them, were about to take up arms against the mightiest army and navy on Earth at the time. Only some of the colonists had military training. Weapons and equipment to support a standing army simply didn't exist. What of the food, clothing, shelter and medical supplies needed?

They were certain to die quickly in their attempt. to stand against the might of Britain. Yet, even so, they answered the call to turn out. They brought what little gear they had. They were ready to fight side by side; young and old; rich and poor.

The Minute Men were ready to die -- and their families ready to face whatever the future brought.

The mission of Billy Dawes, Paul Revere, and Samuel Prescott, Israel Bissel, and Sybil Ludington to warn of the British march from Boston to Concord came on April 18, 1775.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Patriot's Day

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