Perez Morton’s (1751-1837) eulogy for Joseph Warren fits not only for National Literature and Poetry Month, but also Patriot’s Day, commemorating the first battles of the American Revolution in April 1775. While Joseph Warren may not have worshiped at King’s Chapel, his funeral took place there, with his eulogy delivered by Perez Morton, a member of the Anglican congregation.
A prominent local physician, trained by King’s Chapel congregant Dr. James Lloyd, Warren was well-respected among his peers and took on leadership roles within Boston’s community of Patriots as they organized against the British. His death during the battle of Bunker Hill in June of 1775 was immortalized in the famous Joseph Trumbull painting. Like the other men who died there, Dr. Warren was initially buried in a mass grave created by the British. Nine months later, when this site was reopened, Dr. Warren’s body was identified and a funeral was arranged before he was reinterred at the Granary Burying Ground, just down the street from King’s Chapel. His body was moved two more times; Warren’s final gravesite is located at the Forest Hills Cemetery.
Joseph Warren’s funeral was held at King’s Chapel on April 8, 1776. Perez Morton, a friend of Dr. Warren’s, gave his eulogy. Morton served on the Committee of Safety with Warren, and was a warden of King’s Chapel, so he had connections to both the site itself and the man whose funeral was being celebrated. As an active patriot, Morton used this eulogy as an opportunity to unite all listeners behind the cause of American independence, a sentiment he believed to be an appropriate tribute to his friend who had died for that cause. Read Morton’s eulogy below, noting how he attempts to galvanize the early colonists through his speech.
Morton's wife, Sarah Wentworth Morton, was an accomplished poet, also featured in this exhibit.
“AND can we, my Countrymen, with Indifference behold so much Worth and Valour laid prostrate by the Hand of British Tyranny! And can we ever grasp that Hand in Affection again? —Are we not yet convinced “that he who hunts the Woods for Prey, the naked and untutored Indian, is less a Savage than the King of Britain”! Have we not Proofs, wrote in Blood, that the corrupted Nation, from whence we sprang (tho’ there may be some Traces of their ancient Virtue left) are stubbornly fixed on our Destruction! And shall we still court a Dependance on such a State? Still contend for a Connection with those, who have forfeited not only every kindred Claim, but even their Title to Humanity! Forbid it the Spirit of the brave MONTGOMORY! Forbid it the Spirit of immortal WARREN! Forbid it the Spirits of all our valiant Countrymen! Who fought, bled and died for far different Purposes; and who would have thought the Purchase dear indeed! to have paid their Lives for the paltry Boon, of displacing one Set of Villains in Power, to make Way for another. No. They contended for the Establishment of Peace, Liberty and Safety to their Country, and we are unworthy to be called their Countrymen, if we stop at any Acpuisition short of this.
Now is the happy Season, to seize again those Rights, which as Men we are by Nature entitled to, and which by Contract we never have and never could have surrendered:—But which have been repeatedly and violently attacked by the King, Lords and Commons of Britain. Ought we not then to disclaim forever the forfeited Affinity; and by a timely Amputation of that rotten Limb of the Empire, prevent the Mortification of the whole? Ought we not to listen to the Voice of our slaughtered Brethren, who are now proclaiming aloud to their Country--
Go tell the King, and tell him from our Spirits,
That you and Britons can be Friends no more;
Tell him to you all Tyrants are the same:
Or if in Bonds, the never conquer’d Soul
Can feel a Pang, more keen than Slavery’s self,
‘Tis where the Chains that crush you into Dust,
Are forg’d by Hands, from which you hop’d for Freedom.
Yes, we ought and will—We will assert the Blood of our murdered Hero against thy hostile Oppressions, O shameless Britain! and when “thy Cloud-cap’d Towers, thy gorgeous Palaces” shall by the Teeth of Pride and Folly be levell’d with the Dust—and when thy Glory shall have faded like the Western Sunbeam—the Name and the Virtues of WARREN shall remain immortal.”