Framingham and the Battles of Lexington and Concord

April 18–19, 1775

Framingham, Massachusetts was one of the towns that mobilized its militia forces in response to the Lexington Alarm. Three Militia Companies from Framingham marched to Concord where they engaged the British at Merriam’s Corner, and then followed them back to Boston.

Lexington and Concord, 1775, Framingham Militia

The Minuteman statue at Concord. Image Source: National Park Service.

Framingham Militia and the Battles of Lexington and Concord

The following account of the Framingham Militia and their role in the Battles of Lexington and Concord is taken from The History of Framingham, Massachusetts, written by Josiah Howard Temple and published in 1887.

This account provides a comprehensive overview of the major events that took place in Massachusetts from the passage of the Sugar Act (1774) to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Please note that we have made minor text corrections and edits to the text, but have not changed the meaning. Spacing, section headings, and notes have been added to help readers scan and understand the text.

Facts About Framingham and the Battles of Lexington and Concord

  1. Framingham is slightly southeast of Concord. Today, it is roughly a 15-mile walk from the center of Framingham to the center of Concord.
  2. On September 30, 1774, Framingham voted to purchase guns and artillery.
  3. On October 3, 1774, the town voted to organize two Militia Companies.
  4. Framingham organized an artillery company, which eventually joined the Minuteman Companies.
  5. The Lexington Alarm arrived in Framingham before 8:00 a.m.
  6. According to Josiah Temple, Framingham had two Minuteman Companies, led by Captain Simon Edgell and Captain Thomas Nixon. However, other records indicate Captain Micajah Gleason led one of the Minuteman Companies at Concord, and Captain John Nixon led the Sudbury Minutemen, who were near the North Bridge.
  7. Within an hour, most of the men in the Framingham Militia Units were on their way to Concord.
  8. After they left, rumors of a slave uprising spread through Framingham.
  9. The Framingham Militia Units were at Concord when the fight took place at the North Bridge, but they were not involved.
  10. The Framingham Militia Units first engaged the British at Merriam’s Corner, east of Concord, as the British returned to Boston.

There is a fact about Framingham that is not included in Temple’s account. Peter Salem, a black soldier who fought in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, was born in Framingham. Temple most likely did not leave this out of the Framingham history, it simply was not well known at the time it was written. According to legend, it may have been Peter Salem who shot and killed Major John Pitcairn during the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775). Pitcairn is most famous in American History for leading British forces at the Battle of Lexington. In the illustration below, Pitcairn is depicted sitting on his horse, to the right, directing his men to fire.

Battle of Lexington, 1775, Doolittle, Plate 1 Detail, NYPL
This engraving by Amos Doolittle was made in 1775 and depicts the Battle of Lexington. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Framingham and Events Leading to the Lexington Alarm and the Battles of Lexington and Concord

French and Indian War

The signs of the coming storm appeared on our horizon as early as the peace of 1763. Indeed the French and Indian Wars, then brought to a close, were the prophecy and preparation for the impending struggle. 

The government of Great Britain discovered the ability of the Colonies to furnish men and means for their own defense, and led to the system of taxation which alienated the sympathies and confidence of the Colonies; and the Colonists themselves discovered their strength and resources. And what was of especial moment, the Colonists discovered that the British generals sent over to direct military movements were aristocratic in their bearing, and incompetent as military leaders. They also discovered that their own chosen officers, after a short experience in war, were fully competent to plan and conduct important campaigns and lead them to victory. They learned their own importance as factors and arbiters of their own destiny.

“These contests with the French and Indians taught them the art of war, developed a martial spirit, and so prepared them for the events which were before them. It is hardly saying too much to affirm that but for the French and Indian wars, the Revolutionary struggle could not have been prosecuted to a successful termination.”

Taxation in America

The setting up, at this juncture, of the claim of right to tax the Colonies, was peculiarly unfortunate and ill-timed. Our people had cheerfully borne the brunt of the exhaustive wars, and proved their devotion to the British crown. And it was natural to expect on the part of the British ministry, a spirit of appreciation of these services, and a readiness to respect the privileges and immunities of her subject citizens in America.

The disappointment and sense of injury on our part, at such arbitrary and unjust measures as were instituted by the Parliament, awakened suspicions and resistance, and nourished the spirit of independence.

Before the peace of 1763, the subject of taxation had been wisely let alone. The Colonies had been permitted to tax themselves, without the interference of the Parliament. But from and after this period, the ancient system was set aside, and a new and oppressive policy was adopted. 

Sugar Act

The first Act, the avowed purpose of which was to raise a revenue from the Colonies, passed the Parliament September 29, 1764. The preamble recited: “Whereas it is just and necessary that a revenue be raised in America, for defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same. We the Commons,” etc. The Act then proceeds to lay a duty on “clayed sugar, indigo, coffee, etc., being the produce of a Colony not under the dominion of his Majesty.” 

This preliminary measure was offensive to our people, not so much from its direct effects, as from its assertion of a principle which had been scarcely named in their colonial existence of one hundred and fifty years. Nor would this act alone have led to permanent disaffection, had it not been followed by others still more oppressive.

The mother country asserted it “to be essential to the unity, and of course to the prosperity of the empire, that the British Parliament should have the right of taxation over every part of the royal dominions.” 

AHC Note — See Sugar Act History and Sugar Act Facts.

No Taxation Without Representation

The American Colonies asserted that “taxation and representation were inseparable, and that they could not be safe, if their property might be taken from them without their consent.” This claim of the right of taxation on the one side, and the denial of it on the other side, was the hinge on which the Revolution turned.

Stamp Act

In accordance with the newly-adopted policy, the Parliament, in 1765, passed the famous Stamp Act, which ordained that all instruments of writing, such as deeds, bonds, notes, receipts, wills, etc., used among the Colonists, should be null and void, unless executed on stamped paper, for which a duty should be paid to the crown. This tax, while it was practically of small consequence to the farmers and mechanics, bore severely on men of business and officials. 

A ream of common blank bail bonds had usually been sold for £15; a ream of stamped bonds cost £100. A ream of stamped policies of insurance cost £190; a ream of common ones, without stamps, had cost £120.

Stamp Act in Boston, Illustration
This illustration depicts colonists in Boston reading the Stamp Act. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

When news of the passage of the Stamp Act reached this country, the Massachusetts Legislature earnestly remonstrated against its injustice; and as a measure looking to ultimate resistance, recommended the meeting of a Colonial Congress at New York to consult for the general safety.

Framingham’s Instructions Regarding the Stamp Act

Framingham promptly enlisted in the struggle for the maintenance of colonial rights, and put on record her determination to support the colonial authorities; and at a town meeting held October 21, 1765, adopted the following declaration and instructions to the representative in the General Court :

“To Joseph Buckminster Esq. representative:…two essential Rights guaranteed by the English Constitution, are, 1. Being represented in the same body which exercises the power of levying Taxes, and 2, Trial by Jury; these we take to be the pillars of that Constitution. And by the Royal Charter granted to this Province, the power of making laws for our Internal Government, and of levying Taxes is vested in the General Assembly; and by the Charter the inhabitants of tills Province are entitled to all the rights and privileges of natural freeborn subjects of Great Britain. It therefore appears to us that if this Act [The Stamp Act] takes effect, it deprives us of our essential Rights and Privileges.

Therefore we instruct you to promote and readily join in such dutiful remonstrances & humble Petitions to the King and Parliament as have a direct tendency to obtain a repeal of the Stamp Act.

We further instruct you, that you do not give your assent to any Act of Assembly that shall imply the willingness of your constituents to submit to any Taxes that are imposed any other way than by the Great and General Court of this Province.

We further add, that you take care that money raised in this time of Distress and Trouble, in order to supply the Treasury, may not be used to any other purpose than what is intended by the Act for Supplying the Treasury; and as to other Affairs that shall come under consideration, we submit to your wisdom and prudence.”

Enforcement of the Stamp Act

The Stamp Act went into operation on the first day of November. But on that day not a single sheet of all the bales of stamped blanks which had been sent from England, could be found in the Colonies of New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the two Carolinas. They had either been committed to the flames, had been reshipped to England, or were safely guarded by the opposition into whose hands they had fallen.

Business transactions, which required written contracts, were suspended. The Courts of Justice were shut; intended marriages were put off; vessels were laid up; and curses loud and deep against the odious Act were the order of the day.

Sons of Liberty

It was at this time, and under the spur of this determined opposition to Parliamentary exactions, that the associations known as “The Sons of Liberty,” were organized in all the Colonies. This Order, which was destined to have a most important agency in the establishment of our Independence, had for its specific object the adoption of measures to thwart the Stamp Act, and concentrate the thought, and educate the people to prepare them for active resistance to arbitrary government, and at the same time to nourish an American sentiment which should develop home manufactures and build up a home interest.

Home Spun Clothing

Local societies were everywhere formed, comprising both males and females, who pledged themselves to forego all the luxuries of life rather than be indebted to the commerce of England. It was agreed that sheep should not be killed for food, but kept for their wool. The acreage of flax sown was immensely increased; and carding, spinning, weaving, and dyeing, heretofore the business of the common classes, now became the fashionable employment of women of wealth; and to be dressed in “home-spun,” was alike the pride of both sexes, and was a passport to popular distinction. English manufacturers and artisans were deprived of profitable employment, and the warehouses of the merchants were filled with unsaleable goods.

AHC Note — See William Dawes, who gained prominence for wearing a “home-spun” suit for his wedding.

Stamp Act Repeal and Townshend Acts

Under the pressure of home and colonial influences, the Stamp Act was repealed. But the principle on which it was based was not yielded by Great Britain. And the ministry at once set about devising other measures of taxation, in the shape of duties upon imports into the Colonies. 

AHC Note — Following the repeal of the Stamp Act, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act and the Townshend Acts. The Townshend Revenue Act levied a new set of taxes on goods and products.

Massachusetts Responds to the Townshend Acts

To meet this new turn, the people of Boston, always first to move in this juncture, assembled in town meeting, and resolved that they would not import British manufactures or other merchandise on which duties were imposed. 

The Massachusetts Legislature took similar ground; and under the lead of Samuel Adams prepared and forwarded instructions to their agent in London, to be communicated to the ministry, in which they renew their former declarations, that Parliament had no right to tax the Colonies; and further declare that the creation of new crown officers, and the sending of a standing army to be quartered upon the people, were in fact introducing an absolute government into the Colony, which must lead to most dangerous consequences; for they add significantly, “the laws of God and nature are invariable.”

Liberty Affair

In May, 1768, the Romney, ship-of-war, arrived in Boston harbor from Halifax, being sent, as it afterwards appeared, at the suggestion of Governor Bernard, and at the request of the Commissioners of Customs, to awe the Bostonians into subjection. To strengthen his crew, and at the same time show his disregard of the popular feelings, and the rights of the colonists, the commander forcibly impressed New England seamen to serve on board his ship. He also seized a merchant vessel belonging to John Hancock, and anchored her under his guns.

Massachusetts Circular Letter

These acts created intense feeling among the inhabitants. A town meeting was called, and a committee of twenty-one was chosen to wait upon the Governor, and at the same time prepare an address to the citizens. The practice of impressment was condemned in strong terms; and the demand was made for the removal of the Romney from the harbor. The town also declared and put on record their irrevocable determination to assert and maintain their rights and liberties, at the utmost hazard of “their fortunes and their lives.”

In the midst of this excitement, Governor Bernard laid before the Legislature, then in session, a letter from the British ministry, calling upon them to rescind their Resolutions denying the power of Parliament to tax the Colonies; and also to recall their Circular addressed to the other Colonies, asking their co-operation and support in defense of their just rights. Here was a more direct and vital issue than had before been made. It was no less than an express requisition made upon the Legislature for specific action; and the issue could not be avoided. Nor was the Legislature disposed to avoid it. 

AHC Note — The “Resolutions” referred to are found in the Massachusetts Circular Letter.

Under the guidance of Samuel Adams, who never failed in an emergency, an answer was returned to the ministry, justifying the former course of the Legislature, and refusing to retrace the steps already taken. This bold measure was carried in the House by a vote of ninety-two to seventeen. As soon as the Governor learned of this action of the House, he first prorogued and then dissolved the assembly. Massachusetts was now without a Legislature.

Boston Non-Importation Agreement

On the first of August, two hundred and eleven merchants of Boston signed an agreement, that for one year from the first of the next January (1769), they would not order any goods or merchandise from England, except coals, salt, and some few articles necessary for the fisheries; nor import tea, glass, paper or colors, “untill the acts imposing a duty on those articles are repealed.”

Gage Orders Troops to Boston

These proceedings furnished General Thomas Gage (then in command of all the King’s forces in the Colonies) with a sufficient pretext for ordering a considerable part of the army to rendezvous at Boston. This added fuel to the fire; and September 12, a town meeting was called at Faneuil Hall. A committee of seven was appointed to wait on the Governor, and “request him to communicate to them the reasons for which troops were ordered here.” 

Another committee was appointed to request him forthwith to convene the House of Representatives. The Governor’s answer to the first request was evasive. His answer to the last was, that the summoning of the Legislature was then before the King, and he could do nothing without his Majesty’s commands.

AHC Note — General Gage and British troops were stationed in New York City.

Massachusetts Convention of Towns

But the people of Boston were not in a mood to wait for his Majesty’s commands. They met again the next day, and chose a suitable number of persons who should act for them as a Committee in Convention, and then proceeded to call such a Convention, to be composed of delegates from the several towns in the Province of Massachusetts, who should assemble in Boston, to consult and advise such measures as his Majesty’s service and the peace ami safety of his subjects in the Province may require.

A circular, calling this Convention to meet September 22, was sent out to the towns. And on its reception in this town a town meeting was called as soon as might be. The record of this meeting is as follows:

At a town meeting in the town of Framingham, Sept. 26, 1768, Mr. Thomas Temple was chosen moderator for said meeting. Temple was chosen to join the Committee in Convention with others at Faneuil Hall in Boston, to consult such measures as may be for the safety of the Province.

This Convention comprised upwards of one hundred delegates, from ninety-eight towns and districts. It met at Faneuil Hall and sat with open doors. The first business was a respectful petition to the Governor, to call the General Assembly together; but his Excellency begged to be excused from receiving a message from that assembly which is called a “Committee of Convention,” for that would be to admit it to be a legal assembly, “which I can by no means allow.”

But on the same day, his Excellency sent in a message without any signature, stating his opinion “that the Convention, to all intents and purposes, was an Assembly of the Representatives of the people” and added, “therefore I do earnestly admonish you, that instantly, and before you do any business, you break up this assembly, and separate yourselves.” This message was by vote ordered to be returned to the Secretary of State; and the next day it was sent back to the Convention, with the signature of Francis Bernard attached.

On Saturday, the Convention transmitted a message to the Governor, by way of answer, which he refused to receive. The Convention continued its sittings daily till the twenty-ninth. They adopted a letter to be sent to the royal agent of the Province in London; voted to publish the result of their conferences and consultations, in which they declared their allegiance to the King, their abhorrence of riots, and their determination to yield all assistance to the civil magistrates towards suppressing them; they also declared their rights by charter and by nature, and their humble dependence on their generous sovereign that their wrongs would be speedily redressed.

Occupation of Boston

The history of the next eighteen months is only a repetition of events like those just now recorded. The quartering of troops on the town of Boston, and the exasperation of the people at such an attempt to overawe and coerce them, prepared the way for the tragic scenes of the fifth of March, 1770, known as the Boston Massacre. This was the first significant conflict between the British soldiery and American citizens. And the details of this bloody encounter are here given somewhat in full, in order to indicate the sensitiveness of the public mind at this time, the wide and widening separation between the colonists and the mother country, and because the principal character in the bloody affray was a Framingham man.

AHC Note — The “Framingham man” was Crispus Attucks.

British Troops Enter Boston, 1768, Illustration
This illustration depicts British troops entering Boston. Image Source: Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, 1865.

The Death of Christopher Seider

The affray really began on the twenty-second of February, when a pole bearing a caricature head on its top, was set up in Hanover street, in front of the store of an obnoxious importer. An informer, named Richardson, undertook to upset the pole by guiding a countryman’s loaded team against it; but from want of skill in managing the forward horse, the wheel just missed the pole. 

The crowd of boys who were watching the operation shouted in derision, and he answered back. They pelted him with dirt, and drove him into his house; high words passed: and then stones were thrown by both parties. At length, Richardson discharged a musket from his door and another from his window, by which a young man was severely wounded, and a lad named Christopher Seider, was killed.

The bells were set to ringing, and an immense multitude collected. Richardson, and one Wiilmot, were seized and carried to Faneuil Hall, and then committed to prison. Notices were posted, inviting all the friends of liberty to attend the obsequies of “the little hero and first martyr to the noble cause.”

AHC Note — In older accounts, Seider’s last name is often “Snider.” We have updated the text to reflect the correct name.

Death of Christopher Seider, Illustration
This illustration depicts the scene after Seider was shot. The woman with her hand up is holding him. Image Source: Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, 1865.

Christopher Seider’s Funeral

The funeral ceremonies were on Monday, Februbary 26, from his father’s house in Boylston street. From four hundred to five hundred schoolboys preceded the corpse, and six of his playmates supported the pall. Following the relations were twelve or thirteen hundred citizens in font, and thirty chariots and other carriages.

The Boston Massacre

The Boston Gazette, which came out March 5, contained a particular account of the affair, and details of several quarrels which had taken place between the soldiers and citizens. Apprehensive of further trouble, the officers took pains to have all the soldiers in their barracks before night set in. The Fourteenth regiment was quartered in Brattle Street, and the Twenty-ninth in Water Street. A sentinel was placed in an alley fronting time Brattle Street barrack. 

The Bloody Massacre, Engraving, Revere
This engraving by Paul Revere depicts the “Bloody Massacre” where British troops fired into the mob on the night of March 5. Image Source: Library of Congress.

About eight o’clock in the evening three or four young men attempted to pass through the alley, where the sentinel was brandishing his sword and striking fire with it on the brick walls and stone window-sills. They were challenged, but insisted on passing; and in the melee, one of them was slightly wounded in the head.

ACH Note — See Boston Massacre History and Boston Massacre Facts for more details on the events of March 5, 1770.

The noise drew some fifteen or twenty persons to the spot, and thirty or forty others collected in Dock Square, and attempted to make a rush up Brattle Street to the barracks. The street was then very narrow, and the attempt failed. 

A crowd by this time had gathered in Dock Square. The main guard was stationed at the front south door of the Town House; the officer of the day was Captain Thomas Preston, with Lieutenant Basset as second in command. A sentinel was stationed in front of the Custom House, which stood on the spot now occupied by the Merchants’ Bank building. 

Seeing a crowd approaching, he retreated up the steps and gave some loud knocks on the door to alarm the inmates.Lieutenant Basset received word that the sentinel was attacked, and he instantly ordered a sergeant and six men to go to the assistance of the sentry and sent a message to his captain. 

Captain Preston quickly reached the guard-house, and learning the state of affairs, said, “I will follow and see that they do no mischief.” He overtook the squad before it reached the Custom House, and formed the men on a half circle around the steps.

By this time the bells were ringing, and people were flocking in from all quarters. A crowd, some of whom were armed with clubs and such extemporized weapons (but no fire-arms), pressed close upon the soldiers. Billets of wood, snow-balls, and pieces of ice were thrown at them, and they were dared to fire. 

At this moment the soldiers heard, or thought they heard, an order to fire! One or two of their guns flashed in the pan; the others were all effective. Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray, and James Caldwell were killed on the spot; Samuel Maverick died the next morning, and Peter Carr on the following Wednesday.

All this transpired in the course of twenty minutes from the time when Capt. Preston joined the guard. The populace instantly scattered, leaving the dead and wounded where they fell.

Boston Massacre Aftermath

But the populace did not go home. The town drums beat. The cry “To arms! to arms!”’ rang through the town. Some four or five thousand people gathered in the next street, organized a citizen’s guard, and sent a squad of daring spirits to bring off the dead and wounded.

A justice’s court was immediately held; at three o’clock in the morning Captain Preston was committed to prison; and early in the forenoon, the eight soldiers who had fired on the crowd were sent to join him. 

British Troops Sent to Castle William

At eleven o’clock a town meeting was held in Faneuil Hall. Reveredn Mr. Cooper opened the meeting with prayer. After hearing the statements of those who witnessed the affair of the previous evening, a committee of fifteen was appointed to wait upon the Governor and Col. Dalrymple, “to express to them the sentiments of the town, that it was impossible for the citizens and soldiers to live in safety together, and the fervent prayer for the immediate removal of the troops.” 

After some hesitation, the Governor consented to remove the Twenty-ninth regiment, which had taken no part in the massacre, to the Castle, but decided to retain the rest in the town. 

Faneuil Hall proving insufficient to contain the multitude which had assembled, the meeting adjourned to the Old South Church. The committee that had waited upon Governor Hutchinson came in with a report of their interview, and pronounced the Governor’s answer unsatisfactory.

A new committee of seven, viz., John Hancock, Samuel Adams, William Mollineux, William Phipps, Joseph Warren, Joshua Henshaw, and Samuel Pemberton, were deputed to carry to the Governor a final answer. Mr. Adams acted as chairman.

‘”It is the unanimous opinion of the meeting,” said Mr. Adams to the Governor, ‘”that your reply to the vote of the inhabitants in the morning is unsatisfactory; nothing less will satisfy them than a total and immediate removal of all the troops.” 

Colonel Dalrymple was at the side of Governor Hutchinson, at the head of the Council. Hutchinson hesitated, and repeated his former statement that he had not the power to remove them. But Mr. Adams showed him that the charter gave him that authority; and then stretching forth his arm, and raising himself to his full height, he added: 

“If the Lieut. Governor or Col. Dalrymple, or both together, have authority to remove one regiment, they have authority to remove two. It is at your peril, if you do not. The meeting that sent us is composed of 3,000 people. They are become impatient. A thousand men are already arrived from the neighboring towns, and the country is in general motion. Night is approaching; an immediate answer is expected.”

Hutchinson consulted with the Council, who advised him to remove the troops from town; and Col. Dalrymple pledged his word of honor that the request of the town should be complied with as soon as practicable.

On the return of the committee with the report of their last interview, the meeting dispersed; but not until they had provided for a strong military watch of their own to be on duty, till the regiments should leave the town, whose peace they had disturbed.

Boston Massacre Funerals

Three days after the event of the 5th, the funeral of the martyrs took place. The shops were all closed, and the bells in Boston and in the neighboring towns were rung. It is said a greater number of persons assembled on this occasion ilian were ever gathered on the continent for a similar purpose.

The bodies of Attucks and Caldwell, who had no homes in the town, were placed in Faneuil Hall. Maverick was buried from his brother’s house in Union street, and Gray from his brother’s in Royal Exchange, now Exchange Street. 

The four hearses formed a junction in King Street, and from thence the procession marched in columns six deep, with a long file of coaches belonging to the most distinguished citizens, to the Granary Burying Ground, where the four coffins were deposited in one grave. 

Patrick Carr, who from his name has been supposed to have been an Irishman, or the son of Irish parents, died of his wounds on the 14th, and was buried on the 17th in the same grave with his murdered associates.

Crispus Attucks

Crispus Attucks, who is admitted to have been the leader of the party, was a mulatto, born near the Framingham town line, a short distance to the eastward of the State Arsenal. The old cellar-hole where the Attucks family lived is still visible. 

This illustration depicts Crispus Attucks. Image Source: Library of Congress.

He was probably a descendant of John Auttuck, an Indian, who was taken prisoner and executed at the same time with Captain Tom, in June, 1676. Probably the family had intermarried with negroes who were slaves, and as the offspring of such marriages were held to be slaves, he inherited their condition, although it seems likely that the blood of three races coursed through his veins. 

He had been bought by Deacon William Brown of Framingham, as early as 1747. But he thus early acquired some ideas of the value of manhood and liberty, as appears from the following advertisement in the Boston Gazette of October 2, 1750:

“Ran away from his Master, William Brown of Framingham, on the 30th of September last, a mulatto Fellow, about twenty-seven years of age, named Crispus, 6 feet 2 inches high, short curled hair, his knees nearer together than common, and had on a light coloured Beaver-skin coat, plain brown fustian jacket, or brown all-wool one, nevy buck-skin Breeches, blue yarn stockings, and a checked woolen shirt. Whoever will take up said Runaway and convey him to his aforesaid Master, shall have ten pounds old tenor Reward, and all necessary charges paid. And all Masters of vessels and others are hereby cautioned against concealing or carrying off said Servant, on penalty of the law.”

A descendant of Deacon Brown says of him: “Crispus was well informed, and, except in the instance referred to in the advertisement, was faithful to his master. He was a good judge of cattle, and was allowed to buy and sell upon his own judgment of their value.” He was fond of a seafaring life, and probably with consent of his master, was accustomed to take coasting voyages. The account of the time says, “he lately belonged to New Providence, and was here in order to go to North Carolina.”

He was of huge bodily proportions, and brave almost to recklessness. John Adams, who defended Capl. Preston at his trial, says: “Attucks was seen about eight minutes before the firing at the head of twenty or thirty sailors in Cornhill, and had in his hand a large cord-wood stick He was a stout fellow, whose very looks were enough to terrify any person When he came down upon the soldiers by the sentry-box, they pushed him off; but he cried out, ‘Don’t be afraid of them! They dare not fire! Kill them! kill them! Knock them over!’” 

At the firing he was killed instantly, two balls entering his breast. He was about forty-seven years old.

Boston Massacre Trials

Captain Preston was tried in October, and the eight soldiers December 8. The defense was conducted by John Adams and Josiah Quincy, Jr. The captain and six of the soldiers were acquitted, and two, viz., Matthew Kilroy and Hugh Montgomery, were brought in guilty of manslaughter, branded, and sent to Castle Island.

Massachusetts Committees of Correspondence

In 1772, the inhabitants of the town of Boston chose twenty-one of their respectable citizens, as a committee to correspond with their brethren in all parts of the Province. This Committee of Correspondence proved the basis of the subsequent union of the Colonies. 

The committee was appointed on the motion of Samuel Adams, at a town meeting held November second, “to state the rights of the colonists and of this Province in particular, as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects; to communicate and publish the same to the several towns in this Province and to the World, as the sense of this town, with the infringements and violations thereof that have been, or from time to time may be made; also requesting of each town a free communication of their sentiments on this subject.”

The Letter of Correspondence, sent by the committee to the towns, closes thus: “Let us consider, brethren, we are struggling for our best birth-rights and inheritance, which being infringed renders all our blessings precarious in their enjoyment, and consequently trifling in their value. Let us disappoint the men, who are raising themselves on the ruin of their country. Let us convince every invader of our freedom, that we will be as free, as the Constitution which our Fathers recognized, will justify.”

The Letter above referred to was sent out in December 1772. And on its receipt by the selectmen of Framingham, a town meeting was called, “To see if the town will take into consideration the request of the Boston Committee, and a petition sent to the selectmen, signed by Joseph Nichols and others, concerning charter rights and privileges, and to act thereon as the town shall see meet.”

The article was referred to Deacon William Brown, Major John Farrar, Joseph Buckminster, Dr. Ebenezer Hemenway, Joseph Nichols, Josiah Stone, and Ebenezer Marshall, a committee to take the matter into consideration, and report at an adjournment of the meeting. The report is as follows:

Framingham Responds to the Gaspee Affair

“That, whereas late Parliamentary measures have been exercised towards this Province, in a manner so irreconcilable with what we have till within these few years past felt, it seems really necessary that not only the Legislative but Constituent part of the Province stand forth in defense of their Liberties.

That our forefathers left their native country, and came over into this then vast howling wilderness, wading through such troubles and difficulties as could only be felt, never properly exprest, — with just expectation that not only themselves but their posterity should enjoy their privileges both religious and civil, we think none will deny.

That a Charter has been given to this Province, whereby we are entitled to all the Privileges of natural free born sons of England, none will dispute.

That life, liberty and property, with the whole right of disposal, is in our said Charter, we think equally plain.

Then if we are ‘children,’ both Sacred History and our Constitution make us ‘free.’ For the only barrier between freemen and slaves is a whole right of disposal of property. From whence it appears, that so far as any people are deprived of this privilege, just so far they are entered into a state of Slavery.

That we have the Honor and Faith of a British Protestant crowned head to defend these privileges, is equally true. That whoever cuts the cords that cement the Colonies to the British crown, is inimical to both, is a fact, that does not admit of dispute. That, as a Province, we have forfeited our privileges, none even pretend that they are invaded, none with justice can deny; since the Parliament assume the power of legislation for the Colonies without their consent, and exert that power in raising a revenue and applying it to purposes repugnant to our privileges as a free people, by making our principal officers at the head of our Legislative and executive affairs so dependent on the Crown that the usual balance of government is in danger of being entirely destroyed.

And further, to demonstrate that we are invaded, we need only to look into a late Act of Parliament entitled, An Act for the better preserving his Majesty’s Dock-yards, etc. And that the Colonies are included in this Act, witness the orders to the late Honourable Committee sent to Rhode Island. Now if our inhabitants may be seized, and not only denied their privilege of being judged by their own peers, in the vicinity where they belong; but on a suspicion of their being guilty of a breach of said Act, may be carried to England, & there be tried for life, guilty or not; we had need be possessed of Estates much greater than generally are found in America, not to be reduced to perfect Beggary & Ruin. And why, but to prosecute these Ministerial Measures, are fleets and armies sent and kept among us in time of profound Peace?

AHC Note — The “Act for the better preserving of his Majesty’’s Dock-yards” refers to the Dockyards Protection Act (1772). The “Committee sent to Rhode Island” and the threat of people being “carried to England” refers to the Gaspee Affair (June 1772).

This illustration depicts the destruction of the schooner Gaspée in the waters of Rhode Island in 1772. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

And whether these Measures are not oppressive, let the English Annals determine; if they be, he that runs may read the natural operation.

From all which, it appears our absolute Duty to defend, in every Constitutional way, our dear Privileges, purchased with so much blood & treasure. Let us prudently endeavour to preserve our character as Freemen, and not lose that of Good & Loyal Subjects: Let us jointly labour after (and Heaven grant we may obtain) that magnanimity of soul, by which we may be enabled to resent Injuries, and let the world know that we are not governed by Feud & Faction.

Per order of the committee,

William Brown”

The foregoing Report, being several times distinctly read, the question was put, whether the same shall be accepted, and it passed in the affirmative, nemine contradicente.

“Voted, That the said Report be recorded in the Town Book, and an attested copy thereof be transmitted to the Committee of Correspondence at Boston.”

Boston Tea Party

December 16, 1773 is memorable for the destruction of Tea in Boston Harbor. Colonel Joseph P. Palmer, afterwards a resident of this town, was one of this famous “Tea Party.”

Boston Tea Party, 1773, Lantern Slide, DCMNY
This illustration depicts the Boston Tea Party. Image Source: Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York.

Framingham and the Tea Act

At a meeting of the selectmen, January 10, 1774, a warrant was issued as follows: “To Isaac Gibbs, Constable — You are required forthwith, to notify and warn the freeholders and other inhabitants of Framingham, qualified by law to vote in town affairs, by posting up notifications at Col. Buckminster’s, John Trowbridge’s, and Ebenezer Marshall’s Tavern Houses, and at Stone’s Mills, That they meet at the Public meeting-house in said town, on Tuesday the 25th day of this instant, at eleven o’clock in the morning, then and there to vote and determine on the following article, viz. Whereas of late years, great disputes have been between the Mother Country and the Colonies, with regard to the dutys laid on Teas, payable in America, by force of an Act of Parliament, for the purpose of raising a Revenue in the Colonies; and said controversy seems now to be come to a crisis; Therefore, To see if the town will come into any Determinations relating to these matters, whereby to contribute their mite, with other towns in the Province; That if possible an End may be put to the Disputes aforesaid; And vote and act on these important Matters, as the town shall judge proper.

Josiah Stone
Matthias Bent
William Brown
James Clayes
John Trowbridge

} Selectmen of Framingham

Framingham Tea Act Resolves

At the meeting January 25, Josiah Stone was chosen moderator. The town took into their deliberate consideration, the subject matter contained in the warrant. A Letter from the Town Clerk of Boston, was read, with the papers accompanying it. The principles and guarantees of Magna Charta, of the Charter of this Province, and the several Acts of Parliament, were considered; and after several hours’ debate had on the Premises, The Town unanimously came into the following Determinations, viz. —

“Life and Property are so nearly connected, that the former without the latter is but an empty sound. It is for the preservation of these, that we choose to be in a political state, under such rules and regulations, which, if justly attended to, will preserve the State in peace and Good Order. For this very reason are men placed in and vested with Authority. So happy is our constitution, that the ruler and the ruled, when acting in their appropriate spheres, are under this glorious directory, viz. the advantage of the whole.

Nor is it in the rightful Power of any in Authority, in what capacity soever, to take from the people their estates of whatever nature, without their voluntary consent. Witness the Statute of Edward the First: ‘’No tallage or aid shall be taken or levied by us or our Heirs in our Realm, without the good will and assent of archbishops…Burgesses, and other Freetnen of the land.’

Our Charter grants and confirms the same Privilege. Therefore whoever presumes to violate this Privilege, exposes himself to the penalties specified in the Statute above named.

It is upon the Honour of our Sovereign; the Permanency of Magna Charta, and the Charter of this Province, that we build our political Faith; and we trust it will not prove a sandy foundation. Whoever endeavours to undermine this Faith, or will not earnestly defend it, gives up the name of free born Englishmen, for that of slaves. And however others may think of these things; from the considerations now brought forward, we find ourselves driven to the necessity of defending our Privileges as we would our Lives.

And since by a late Act of Parliament, the East India Company are encouraged to send their Teas into America, subject to a Duty, and consigned to designated parties, not only is the right to levy tallage asserted, but the sinews of our mercantile Interest are cut. No advantage accrues, but what redounds to Particular Individuals, and not to the Body Politick.

We therefore Resolve, That we ourselves, and any for or under us, will not buy any Teas subject to a Duty: Nor knowingly trade with any merchant or Country Trader that deals in that detestable commodity.

And since such means and methods are used to Destroy our Privileges, which were purchased by the best blood of our Ancestors — Those that stand foremost in a proper defence of our Privileges, shall have our greatest Regards : And if any shall be so regardless of our Political Preservation and that of Posterity, as to endeavour to counteract our Determinations, We will treat them in that manner their conduct Deserves.”

Intolerable Acts

The Destruction of the Tea, December 16, filled up the measure of colonial iniquity, in the estimation of the Ministry; and the mighty power of a mighty nation was to be concentrated upon the town of Boston.

AHC Note — See Intolerable Acts.

Boston Port Act

Lord North, in introducing the “Boston Port Bill” into Parliament, gives Massachusetts the pre-eminence in disloyalty, by saying, “Boston had ever been the ringleader in all riots, and had at all times shown a desire of seeing the laws of Great Britain attempted in vain in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. That the act of the mob in destroying the Tea, and the other proceedings, belonged to the acts of the public meeting; and that though the other colonies were peaceable and well inclined towards the trade of this country, and the Tea would have been landed at New York without opposition; yet when the news came from Boston that the Tea was destroyed, Governor Tryon thought it would be prudent to send the Tea back to England. Boston alone was to blame for having set the example; therefore, Boston ought to be the principal object of our attention for punishment.”

Lord North, Portrait
Lord Frederick North. Image Source: Wikipedia.

The Boston Port Bill received the royal assent on March 31. By its provisions, the port of Boston (which included Charlestown) was precluded from the privilege of landing or discharging, or of loading and shipping goods, wares, and merchandise.

Massachusetts Government Act

A second bill, which was passed at this time, essentially altered the Charter of the Province, making the appointment of the Council, justices, judges, sheriffs, etc., dependent upon the Crown, or its agent, and removable at his pleasure. It also provided that no town meetings, except the annual meetings for the choice of town officers in March or May, should be holden without the consent of the Governor.

Administration of Justice Act

A third bill immediately followed, authorizing and directing the Governor to send any person indicted for murder, or any other capital offence, to another colony, or to Great Britain for trial.

These acts not only destroyed the trade of Boston, bringing bankruptcy upon men of business, and great suffering upon the laboring poor, but they virtually destroyed the impartial administration of justice, and practically annulled that great prerogative of the citizen, trial by jury.

ACH Note — The other Intolerable Acts were the Quartering Act (1774) and the Quebec Act (1774).

Boston Recommends Non-Importation

On the 13th of May, the people of Boston met in Faneuil Hall, chose Samuel Adams moderator, and adopted a vote, inviting all the other Colonies “to come into a joint resolution to stop all importations from Great Britain and the West Indies, till the Act for blocking up the harbor of Boston be repealed.”

One of the remarkable features of that time of the marshaling of the forces of oppression on the one hand, and the forces of resistance on the other, was the almost simultaneous beating of the heart of the people of the whole Commonwealth, which led to the adoption of measures in the smaller towns, in a sense anticipatory of the British acts of coercion. How else can we explain the action of Framingham at a town meeting, held as early as March 14 of this year, at which it was ‘”voted, that it shall be at the discretion of the Selectmen, on sudden emergencies, where necessity requireth, to warn meetings without fourteen days’ posting, and the same shall be due warning notwithstanding.”

Framingham Committee of Correspondence

And it was at this juncture that the far-sightedness of the policy of Samuel Adams, adopted in 1772, for the appointment of a central Committee of Correspondence, to be in ready communication with like committees in all the Colonies, and in all the towns of this Province, was made apparent. 

These local committees were composed of trusted men; and by themselves, or in cooperation, constituted a sort of head of authority to which the public looked for advice and protection. This town had not formally appointed such a committee, though virtually the committees chosen when occasion required a special expression of opinion, had that character. 

But May 30, in town meeting, “On a motion made and seconded by several persons, voted to choose a Committee of Correspondence, whose business it shall be to correspond with our sister towns on any matters of importance, at this Day of Publick Distress: and chose Joseph Haven Esquire, Captain Josiah Stone, Deacon William Brown, Ebenezer Marshall, Lieutenant David Haven, Joseph Buckminster Esqquire, and Major John Farrar.

Then the meeting was adjourned to such day as the selectmen shall hereafter judge expedient that the town shall come together, when they shall give notice of said meeting by posting the same in writing at tile meeting-house.

Solemn League and Covenant

AHC Note — The Boston Committee of Correspondence sent a letter to the towns in Massachusetts, asking them to join Boston in a Non-Importation Agreement. The Boston Committee called it the “Solemn League and Covenant.” On June 13, 1774, Framingham called for a meeting to decide how to respond, which was held on June 27. 1774.

The town met, on the notice aforesaid; the fullest and most general ever known in this town on any civil occasion; when the meeting was opened by solemn prayer for Divine direction. And after reading some Letters and other Papers, the Committee of Correspondence presented the …Covenant, and the same was read distinctly several times, and considered, and very largely debated several hours; After which the question was put, whether the town do accept said Covenant as it now stands, and it passed in the affirmative almost Unanimously.

Unfortunately, this covenant is not preserved on our records; but as it was adopted at the suggestion of the Boston committee, it was probably in substance the “Solemn League and Covenant,” drawn up by said committee, and forwarded to the towns for general signature. 

All who signed the Covenant bound themselves from henceforth not to buy or use any goods of British manufacture until their charter rights should be restored. And to ensure the carrying out of the plan, they provided for a Committee of Inspection, which should have the power to inquire into the transactions of traders, so far as to find out who was exposing for sale teas, or other newly imported goods, contrary to said Covenant, and post their names in public.

That this was one term of the Covenant adopted, and that it was interpreted by some to give authority to any individual to make domiciliary visits at his option, is evident from the following vote passed at a town meeting, September 9: 

Voted — that no person or persons shall attempt to pay any visit to any particular person, for any supposed misconduct of a public nature, but by the advice and direction of the Committee of Correspondence, or the major part of them.”

This Agreement was generally signed by the people in all our towns and became an important factor in the union of effort, which gave promise of ultimate success.

Middlesex County Convention

AHC Note — The Massachusetts Government Act suspended Town Meetings, but allowed County Conventions, so the counties responded by holding conventions to decide how to respond to the Intolerable Acts.

To Middlesex County belongs the honor of holding the first delegate convention, which adopted measures looking to organized opposition to the schemes of the British ministry. This Convention met at Concord, August 30. Framingham was represented by two delegates, viz., Captain Josiah Stone and Deacon William Brown. Every town in the county sent delegates, one hundred and fifty in all. 

A committee of nine was appointed (of which both the delegates from this town were members), to consider the late Acts of Parliament, and report thereon to the convention. This committee drew up and brought before the body a preamble and nineteen resolutions, which, for comprehensive grasp of principle, and boldness of statement, and calm determination to uphold their threatened liberties, had not been then, and were not afterwards, excelled. The preamble recites:

“It is evident to every attentive mind, that this Province is in a very dangerous and alarming situation. We are obliged to say, however painful it may be to us, that the question now is, whether, by a submission to some late Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain, we are contented to be the most abject slaves, and entail that slavery on posterity after us, or by a manly, joint, anil virtuous opposition, assert and support our freedom. There is a mode of conduct, which in our very critical circumstances we would wish to adopt; a conduct, on the one hand, never tamely submissive to tyranny and oppression, on the other, never degenerating into rage, passion, and confusion. This is a spirit which we revere, as we find it exhibited in former ages, and will command applause to the latest posterity.

The late Acts of Parliament pervade the whole system of jurisprudence, by which means, we think, the fountains of justice are fatally corrupted. Our defence must therefore, be immediate in proportion to the suddenness of the attack, and vigorous in proportion to the danger.

We must now exert ourselves, or all those efforts which, for ten years past, have brightened the annals of this country, will be totally frustrated. Life and death, or, what is more, freedom and slavery, are in a peculiar sense now before us; and the choice and success, under God, depend greatly upon ourselves.”

The resolves are in the same spirit. And the report was adopted by a vote of one hundred and forty-six yeas, to four nays.

Massachusetts Provincial Congress

Before adjourning, the Convention recommended the assembling of a Provincial Congress at Concord, on the second Tuesday in October.

On the return home of our delegates with a report of the action of the Convention, a town meeting was called, which met September 9, notice by the Selectmen being previously given. 

The Resolves, passed by the Concord Convention, were several times distinctly read, and maturely debated; when the question was put, whether the town accepts said Resolves, and it passed.

At this meeting the town also:

Voted — that the Committee of Correspondence attend the Court at Concord, on Tuesday next, and in behalf of the town, desire said Court not to sit or act on any cause whatever at this term.”

Voted — that Captain Josiah Stone, Joseph Haven Esquire, and Deacon William Brown be, and thev are hereby appointed delegates from this town, to appear and act on our behalf, at a Provincial Congress to meet in Concord, on the second Tuesday of October next. To consider and determine on such measures as the said Congress shall judge conducive to the public peace and tranquility.”

‘Voted — that the selectmen are hereby directed to procure and purchase at the town’s expense, five barrels of powder, and four or five hundred weight of bullets or lead, for an addition to the town’s stock.”

Governor Gage Calls the Massachusetts General Court to Salem

Nine days before this, i.e., on the first of September, Governor Thomas Gage had issued writs, convening the General Court at Salem on the fifth of October. In pursuance of this order, a town meeting was held in Framingham, September 30, at which Captain Josiah Stone was elected representative.

AHC Note — The Powder Alarm took place on September 1, 1774. A small expedition of British troops went to Charlestown and removed military supplies from the storehouse. Rumors quickly spread through Massachusetts and New England that the British had attacked Boston. The Powder Alarm set a series of events in motion that culminated in the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Framingham’s Instructions to Josiah Stone

A committee was appointed to draft instructions to the representative elect. This committee drew up the following instructions, which were adopted by vote of the town:

“To Capt. Josiah Stone:

Sir — As we have chosen you to represent us in a Great and General Court to be holden at Salem on Wednesday the 5th day of October next ensuing, we do hereby instruct you, that in all your doings as a member of the House of Representatives, you adhere firmly to the Charter of this Province granted by their majestys King William and Queen Mary; and that you do not act nor consent to any act that can possibly be construed into an acknowledgement of the validity of the Act of the British Parliament for altering the government of the Massachusetts Bay: More especially that you acknowledge the honourable Board of Councillors elected last May by the General Court as the only rightful and constitutional Council of this Province.

Joseph Haven
Benjamin Edwards
Joseph Nichols

} Committee

Framingham September 30, 1774”

Militia and Military Preparations

At the same meeting:

Voted — That there be a chest of 25 Fire Arms purchased at the expense of the town for the town’s use; and Joseph Winch and Daniel Sanger were chosen a committee for that purpose.

Voted — to purchase two Field Pieces of such size as the selectmen and the committee shall judge proper; and James Glover and Capt. Benj. Edwards were chosen a committee to purchase the cannon. Granted for the purchases aforesaid the sum of £56.

…a motion made, relative to the Militia officers, and a large debate had thereon, voted, that this meeting be adjourned to Monday next, 12 o’clock M; and that every person above the age of 16 years be desired to attend, and consider and determine with regard to the Militia, as the whole body shall judge proper.”

On Monday, October 3, the town met:

Voted — that there be two militia companies, besides the Troop, in this town; and that each company choose such officers as they judge best to have command at this day of distress in our public affairs.

Voted — that the laws of this Province, relative to the Militia, be the rule of duty both for such officers and for the soldiers when the companies are thus settled.”

Gage Cancels the Meeting in Salem

On learning that the towns were giving instructions to their representatives elect, like those given in Framingham; and especially on receiving information of the action of the several county conventions, some of which denounce all persons who attempt to carry out the late Acts of Parliament as “unnatural and malignant enemies,” and one of which recommended that “the representatives elect refuse to be sworn, except by an officer appointed according to the charter of the Province,” Gov. Gage issued his proclamation, September 28, adjourning without day the General Court, which he had summoned to meet at Salem October the fifth. 

The reasons he assigned for this arbitrary and suspicious course were, that many tumults and disorders had taken place since he called the meeting; and that “the extraordinary Resolves which had been passed in many counties, and the instructions given by the town of Boston, and some of the other towns, to their representatives; “ these and other things rendered it “highly inexpedient that a Great and General Court should be convened,” at the time specified.

AHC Note — The counties recommending the “elect refuse to be sworn in” refers to the Mandamus Councillors. The “many tumults and disorders” refers to the Powder Alarm and the Worcester Revolt (September 6, 1774).

The First Meetings of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress

But the proclamation came too late to prevent the meeting. Many of the representatives from the distant towns were already on their way to Salem. And there was time, between September 28, and October 5, for the earnest Patriots of Boston and the eastern counties to mature a plan of action. 

The Committee of Correspondence privately issued their call; and as a result, on the day appointed, nearly one hundred members elect met at Salem. 

After waiting one day, to see if any public officer would appear to administer the oath of office, or otherwise direct them, these representatives resolved themselves into a Provincial Congress and made a temporary organization by choosing John Hancock chairman, and Benjamin Lincoln clerk. The same day, October 6, the body adjourned to meet at the court house in Concord, October 11. 

This was the day already designated for the meeting of a Provincial Congress at the same place, and to which delegates had been chosen. On this day, 288 delegates appeared, seventy-nine of whom were from Middlesex County. The names of the three delegates from this town have been given. The Congress organized by choosing John Hancock president, and Benjamin Lincoln secretary. The court house proving too small for their accommodation, the meetings were held in the meeting-house, and the pastor, Reverend William Emerson, acted as chaplain.

Organizing Massachusetts Defenses

After, a session of three days at Concord, the Congress adjourned to Cambridge, where their sittings were continued from October 17, eleven days. This Congress, which was composed of delegates duly elected by the people of the towns, virtually took upon itself the power to frame a government for the people. It proceeded to mature plans for putting the Province of Massachusetts in a state of preparation and defense.

Massachusetts Militia

Measures were taken for organizing, arming, and calling out the militia, in case of emergency. The plan provided that all able-bodied men should be enrolled, and that these should assemble immediately, and elect their proper officers; that these company officers should assemble as soon as may be, and elect field officers.

Massachusetts Committee of Safety and Committee of Supplies

A Committee of Safety, consisting of nine persons, was appointed, with the power to call into active service the whole militia of the Province, whenever they should deem it necessary.

A Committee of Supplies, consisting of five persons, was appointed, with authority to purchase cannon, mortars, muskets, and ordnance stores, and to provide for the subsistence of such troops as the Committee of Safety might call into the field. 

Generals Appointed for the Massachusetts Army

Three general officers were appointed, viz., Jedediah Preble of Falmouth, Maine, Artemas Ward, a delegate from Shrewsbury, and Seth Pomeroy, a delegate from Northampton. Subsequently, two others were added, viz., John Thomas, a delegate from Marshfield, and William Heath, a delegate from Roxbury.

AHC Note — At the time, Maine was known as the “District of Maine” and was part of Massachusetts.

Minuteman Companies

And to meet such an emergency as the creation of the Committee of Safety contemplated, the field officers of regiments were authorized to enlist from their commands, companies of fifty men each, to be fully armed and equipped, which should be held in readiness to march at “the shortest notice” from the Committee.

Henry Gardner Elected Treasurer

The Congress then proceeded to elect Henry Gardner, Esq. of Stow, as Treasurer and Receiver General, in place of Harrison Gray of Boston, and directed that all taxes which had been granted, and all money in the hands of collectors, should be paid over to the new Treasurer, instead of being paid into the royal treasury.

Framingham Supports the Provincial Congress

The delegates from this town were active and influential members of the Congress; and the town promptly endorsed the proposed measures. 

AHC Note — Framingham held a Town Meeting on November 8, 1774, and agreed to accept the Resolves of the Provincial Congress. Specifically, the town agreed to organize its Militia and to send tax revenue to Henry Gardner.

Framingham’s Artillery Company

About this date, a considerable number of our leading men proceeded to organize an artillery company in town, which should take charge of the two field-pieces, ordered to be purchased. The requisite number enlisted, and the proper officers were elected, and the company went into practice. There is no record to show that the field-pieces were actually bought and delivered to the selectmen.

Framingham Minutemen

As already stated, the Provincial Congress, at its session, October 26, provided for the enlistment and equipment of companies, which should hold themselves in readiness to march at a minute’s warning. Under the authority thus conferred, Framingham proceeded to enlist two companies of Minute Men. Fortunately, the papers showing the method of organizing these companies are preserved, and are herewith copied :

“We the subscribers, from a sense of our duty, to preserve our Liberties and Privileges; And in compliance with the Resolves of the Provincial Congress, together with the desire of our superior officers, voluntarily enlist ourselves Minute-men, and promise to hold ourselves in readiness to march at the shortest notice, if requested by the officers we shall hereafter elect.”

This paper was signed by Simon Edgell, Thomas Drury, Samuel Abbot, James Clayes. Jr., John Fisk, Moses Learned, Matthias Bent, Jr., John Eaton, Lawson Buckniinster, Frederick Manson, and others, to the number of sixty-eight.

This company organized December 2, as appears from the following certificate:

“These may certify that in Framingham, on the second of December, 1774, a number of men enlisted as Minute Men, and was formed into a company; then made choice of Mr. Simon Edgell captain, Thomas Drury first lieutenant, Lawson Buckminster second lieutenant, officers for said company according to the directions of the late Provincial Congress in their Resolve in October 26, 1774.

Signed

Samuel Bullard
Micah Stone
Abner Perry
John Trowbridge

} Field Officers of this Regiment

AHC Note — In total, there were 70 men, including officers, in this company.

At the same time a second company, comprising sixty men, was enlisted, and organized in the same way. The officers elected were, Thomas Nixon, captain; Micajah Gleason, first lieutenant; John Eames, second lieutenant; Samuel Gleason, ensign; Ebenezer Hernenway, clerk. 

Some of the other leading names were, Peter Clayes, Abel Childs, Moses and Nathaniel Eames, John Farrar, Jr., Jonathan Hemenway, Jonah Hill, Needham Maynard, Asa and John Nurse, Jonathan Temple, Joseph Winch.

AHC Note — According to the Acton account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Thomas Nixon was a Lieutenant Colonel and led one of the Framingham Minutemen Companies.

Sudbury Minutemen

It should be stated here, that Captain John Nixon, who now lived just over the town line on the north side of Nobscot, enlisted a large company of Minutemen in Sudbury, which he led into action at Concord and Lexington, April 19.

Minuteman Training

These companies at once put themselves in active drill in the manual, and field maneuver. Each man was required to provide himself with a musket, bayonet, cartridge-box, and thirty-six rounds of ammunition. 

The companies met as often as once a week; and squads of the men, by arrangement, would meet at the houses of the officers, and spend evenings going through the manual exercise. Says one of them: “I have spent many an evening, with a number of my near neighbors, going through the exercise in the barn floor, with my mittens on.”

These Minute companies were in part composed of the young and adventurous spirits among us, but many of our most substantial citizens enlisted, and were faithful in drilling, and ready to “fall in” when the emergency came.

Food and Supplies for Boston

On January 2, 1775, at a town meeting, it was voted, that there shall be a contribution for the town of Boston under their present Distress. And Major John Trowbridge, Gideon Haven, Daniel Sanger, Benjamin Mixer, Ebenezer Marshall, David Patterson, Deacon William Brown and Dr. Ebenezer Hemenway were chosen a committee for that purpose; and next Wednesday and Friday at 1 o’clock were appointed as the times when the people should assemble at such several places as the committee shall designate, to bring in their subscriptions.

AHC Note — With Boston Harbor and the port closed due to the Boston Port Act, the people of Boston could not receive shipments of goods and products by water. Many towns in Massachusetts, New England, and the other colonies sent shipments overland to help the citizens.

Provincial Congress and the Committee of Inspection

Captain Josiah Stone and Deacon William Brown were chosen delegates to the second Provincial Congress, to meet at Cambridge on the first of February.

Captain Benjamin Edwards, Joseph Nichols, Daniel Sanger, Captain Amos Gates, and Colonel Micah Stone were chosen a Committee of Inspection, “whose duty it shall be to see that the Association of the Continental Congress be duly carried into full execution.”

AHC NoteFirst Continental Congress, Articles of Association, and Continental Association.

The Artillery Company Joines the Minutemen

After a consultation with the members of the new Artillery company, the officers and men agreed to enlist as privates, by subscribing a similar paper to that which the Minutemen had already signed, and become Minutemen.

Gage’s Spies

As the towns were now in active military preparation, and depots of military stores had been established at Worcester and Concord, under the sanction of the late Provincial Congress, it became necessary that the British General commanding at Boston should obtain full and accurate information about the roads and strategic points to the westward of head-quarters. 

AHC Note — In February 1775, General Thomas Gage issued orders to Captain Johne Brown and Ensign Henry De Berniere, instructing them to travel through Suffolk County and Worcester County. The purpose of this mission was to make a map of the area. The two men carried out the mission, and Gage sent them out for a second time in late March to gather intelligence about weapons and provisions stored in Concord.

Lexington Alarm

The news that the British troops were on the march for Lexington and Concord, appears to have reached Framingham before eight o’clock in the morning. The bell was rung, and the alarm guns fired; and in about an hour, a considerable part of the two companies of Minutemen and one company of the Militia were on the way to Concord, which place they reached about noon. Captain Edgell went on foot the entire distance, carrying his gun. Those living at the extreme south and west sides of the town were a little behind the party from the center and north side.

Rumors of a Slave Uprising

Soon after the men were gone, a strange panic seized upon the women and children living in the Edgell and Belknap districts. Someone started the story that “the Negroes were coming to massacre them all!”

Nobody stopped to ask where the hostile people were coming from; for all the negroes in Framingham were were Patriots. It was probably a lingering memory of the earlier Indian alarms, which took this indefinite shape, aided by the feeling of terror awakened by their defenseless condition, and the uncertainty of the issue of the pending fight. 

The wife of Captain Edgell, and the other matrons brought the axes and pitchforks and clubs into the house, and securely bolted the doors, and passed the day and night in anxious suspense.

AHC Note — The “earlier Indian alarms” refers to the Pequot War (1634–1638), King William’s War (1688–1697), and the other wars waged between France and England for control of North America. This narrative is interesting because it mentions rumors of a potential slave uprising, similar to the New York Slave Uprising (1712) and the Stono Rebellion (1739).

Meriam’s Corner and Lincoln Woods

Our companies reached Concord, not in season to join in the fray at the North Bridge, but in season to join in the pursuit of the flying British column. 

Concord Fight, 1775, North Bridge, NYPL
This illustration depicts the fight at the North Bridge. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

From the evidence preserved, it appears that a part of our men participated in the daring assault at Merriam’s Corner, and that all had arrived and were active in the more successful attacks in the Lincoln Woods. 

Captain Edgell and Captain Gleason had seen service in the Indian wars; they were cool and daring, and kept their men well in hand, which accounts for the few casualties of the day among them. They worked together with Captain Nixon. The three of them  knew the need of discipline in harassing a retreating enemy, and that most casualties happen on such occasions from rashness and needless exposure. A single deliberate shot, from a man behind a safe cover, is effective, when a dozen hurried shots are harmless. Our captains kept up the pursuit till the British reached and passed Cambridge; and then the men disposed of themselves as best they could for the night.

It does not come within the plan of this book, to give in detail the history of that eventful march and countermarch of the British force, and the bloody encounters at Lexington and Concord, and the fierce onslaught of the Middlesex yeomanry on the retreating and discomfited regulars — all this may be found in the published accounts of the war — but a few incidents of the day, which possess a local interest, have been preserved, and are here recorded.

AHC Note — See Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, Battle of Lexington, Battle of Concord, and Parker’s Revenge for more information.

Lexington and Concord, 1775, Meriam's Corner, NYPL
This postcard from the early 1900s shows Meriam’s Corner, where the Framingham Militia attacked the British. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Captain John Nixon

Captain John Nixon was in command of the West Sudbury Minutemen. He and his company reached Dugan’s Corner as early as nine o’clock. Here he received orders from Colonel James Barrett to halt, and in no case to commence an attack. 

While waiting at Dugan’s Corner, the report came that a file of British soldiers had come to the South Bridge. Captain Nixon had difficulty in restraining the militiamen from starting to dislodge them. 

Deacon Haynes, a member of the company of Exempts, an aged man with all the fire of youth, grew impatient, and said with much warmth, “If you don’t go and drive them British from that bridge, I shall call you a coward!” Captain Nixon firmly but good-naturedly answered, “I should rather be called a coward by you, than called to account by my superior officer, for disobedience of orders.”

Soon after he received orders to march directly to Colonel Barrett’s house. On the way, he met a squad of British who had been sent to destroy some cannon stored near there. Nixon could easily have cut them off but for his orders “not to commence an attack.”

Colonel Ezekiel How

Colonel Ezekiel How, then in command of a Middlesex Regiment, went to Concord with the Sudbury companies, and halted with them at Dugan’s Corner. 

Desiring to observe the movements of the British, he took off his sword and the lacing of his hat, and rode on towards the South Bridge, as if he was going further. The soldiers stopped him and demanded where he was going. “Down along,” he answered, “and I shouldn’t like to be hindered.” He was allowed to proceed. 

Very quickly the firing commenced at the North Bridge, and he wheeled about, saying as he repassed the British, “I find there’s trouble ahead; and I believe, on the whole, I had better get back to my family.”

Noah Eaton

The following incident shows the value of presence of mind in emergency. In the pursuit, when on the borders of Lexington, Noah Eaton, 2d, of this town, fired upon the British, and squatted behind a knoll to reload, just as a regular came up on the other side of the knoll, and as it proved, for the same purpose. Eaton instantly brought his gun to his shoulder, and demanded a surrender. The soldier laid down his musket, when Eaton proceeded to reload. Seeing the state of the case, the soldier remarked, “My gun is empty, but I could have loaded in half the time you take, as I have cartridges.” The soldier returned to Framingham with his captor, the next day, and continued in his service.

Josiah Temple

Josiah Temple, then living at Lechmere Point, Cambridge, started with a detachment of militiamen to intercept the British, on their return, and in the severe skirmish which took place just on the line between Lexington and Cambridge, received a musket ball in the shoulder, which he carried to his grave.

Daniel Hemenway

Daniel Hemenway, a member of Captain Edgell’s company, was the only one of our Minutemen who was wounded that day; but he kept on with his comrades to Cambridge, and remained in the service fourteen days.

Ebenezer Hemenway

Ebenezer Hemenway, of Capt. Gleason’s company, shot a British soldier named Thomas Sowers, near Merriam’s corner, and took his gun, which he brought home with him.

Documenting April 18–19, 1775

The events that took place on April 18 and 19, 1775 include some of the most historic — and legendary — moments in American History. Many of the details about the events are found in the letters and depositions written at the time and have been used by many historians as the basis for articles and books about the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

However, what is often lost are interesting details that can be found in the histories of the towns that responded to the Midnight Riders and the Lexington Alarm. Militia forces from approximately 27 towns, including Framingham, fought the British from Lexington to Concord, and then from Concord back to Boston. Many of those men stayed there and participated in the Siege of Boston.

Although these local histories are sometimes embellished and border on folklore, they still provide valuable insight into the pride towns felt over standing up against the British forces who fired on the King’s subjects at Lexington and Concord.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Framingham and the Battles of Lexington and Concord
  • Date April 18–19, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Framingham, Framingham Militia, Framingham Minutemen, Lexington Alarm, Concord Fight, Battles of Lexington and Concord
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 30, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 22, 2024

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