Letter from Hannah Winthrop to Mercy Otis Warren, 27 September 1774

Letter from Hannah Winthrop to Mercy Otis Warren, 27 September 1774


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    • Main description

    [ This description is from the project: Coming of the American Revolution ]

    This letter from Hannah Winthrop, in Cambridge, Mass., to Mercy Otis Warren, describes an increase in "Loads of english goods...the fortifying of Boston neck, [and] the huge canon now mounted there," which she fears are all signs of impending war with England. She also describes in great detail the lavish wedding of the Prince of Prussia to illustrate the "empty pagentry" of rapacious rulers.

    "Heaven avert the Storm!"

    Responding quickly to the colonists' display of force, Gage fortifies Boston Neck with troops and cannon and orders all citizens to relinquish their weapons. If Boston cannot be tamed, at least it can be contained. Although some towns had been reluctant to help shoulder Boston's burden after it destroyed the tea, Parliament's Coercive Acts, with their restructuring of the provincial charter and prohibitions on free and open assembly, are effectively punishing all of Massachusetts. On 21 September, a convention called in Worcester instructs towns to appoint rapid-response minutemen from among their militia and to create a network for sounding alarms into the countryside. In October, the Massachusetts Assembly meets, flouting Gage's ban by renaming itself the First Provincial Congress. In a clear indication of intent, it establishes a Committee of Safety and a Committee of Supplies. Hannah Winthrop can see no happy outcome to these preparations.

    Questions to Consider

    1. Do you think that Hannah Winthrop is a loyalist or a patriot? Support your argument with words or phrases from her letter.

    2. Winthrop comments that the British merchants are "pouring in loads of English goods." Why are they doing so?

    3. Winthrop expresses the hope that Col. Warren will soon meet with the General Assembly and that the "Constitutional Council" will resume meeting. Who is Colonel Warren? To what government body is Winthrop referring, and why does she hope they will "resume their seats?"

    Further Exploration

    4. Winthrop explains that the recent events in Cambridge give her a "painful Idea of the Horrors of civil war." Why would she use the term 'civil war' to describe the building conflict? England has experienced civil war in the past--when? What were the causes of the English civil war?


    • Warren, Mercy Otis
    • Winthrop, Hannah
    • Warren, Joseph
    • Winthrop, John
    • Gage, Thomas
    • Lexington and Concord
    • Women in the Revolution
    • First Continental Congress