Annals of Mendon - Resolves, 1773


    The Declaration of Independence... was to some extent anticipated by the action of various towns and
    counties. The first of them all, probably, was the town of Mendon, Worcester County, Mass, which in
    1773 adopted these resolutions.  William Cullen Bryant and Sydney Howard Gay, A Popular History
    of the United States, volume 3  p. 472.  

    In a warrant for a town meeting to be held Feb. 10, 1773, the second article is in the following words,
    viz: "To see what the town will act relative to the Letter of Correspondence from the Town of Boston to
    this Town."

    At a town meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Mendon, legally qualified,
    warned and assembled, at the First Precinct Meeting House, in said Mendon, February ye 10th, 1773,
    Mr. John Tyler was chosen Moderator.

    Then was laid before the meeting the letter or pamphlet of the Committee of Correspondence of the
    town of Boston, " Shewing, in Sundry Respects, where sundry of our Invaluable Charter Rights and
    Privileges were Infringed upon, by sundry late Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain, Imposing Duties
    or Taxations on the Colonists in America and the Province or Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in
    particular."

    It was tried by a vote if the town would act on the important matter, and voted in the affirmative.

    Then voted to choose a committee of seven freeholders of said town " to Consider a matter of so
    Great Importance and prepare Resolves proper for said meeting to Act and Resolve on, at the
    adjournment of this meeting.''

    Chose for said committee Joseph Dorr, Esq., James Sumner, John Tyler, Deacon Edward Rawson,
    Lieut. Joseph Johnson and William Torrey, when the meeting was adjourned until the first day of
    March at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, at the meeting house.

    March 1. At a town meeting by adjournment from Feb. 10, 1773, the chairman of the committee
    appointed to prepare resolves to be laid before the town for their consideration at this time, relative "to
    our Rights and Privileges as Men, Christians and Subjects, and the Infringement of them by Sundry
    Acts of the British Parliament, acquainted the Moderator that he was ready to make Report and read
    the same as follows, viz:

    (The following resolves were written by Joseph Dorr.)

    1. Resolved, That all men have naturally an Equal Right to Life, Liberty and Property.

    2. Resolved, That all just and lawful Government must necessarily originate in the free Consent of the
    People.

    3. Resolved, That the Good, Safety and Happiness of the People is the great end of Civil Government,
    and must be considered as the only rational object in all Original Compacts and Political Institutions.

    4. Resolved, That a principle of Self Preservation, being deeply planted by the God of Nature in every
    human breast, is as necessary not only to the well being of Individuals, but also to the Order of the
    Universe, as Attraclion and Cohesion are to the preservation of material bodies and the order of the
    Natural World, Therefore

    5. Resolved, That a Voluntary Renunciation of any Powers or Privileges, included or necessarily
    connected with a principle of Self Preservation is necessarily acting counter to the Great Author of
    Nature, the Supreme Legislator, Therefore,

    6. Resolved, That a Right to Liberty and Property (which is one of the Natural Means of Self
    Preservation) is absolutely unalienable, and can never, lawfully, be given up by ourselves or taken
    from us by others.

    7. Resolved, That the claim of the Parliament of Great Britain to the power of Legislation for the
    Colonies, in all cases whatever, is extremely alarming and threatens the total deprivation of every
    thing that is dear and valuable in life, and is, we humbly conceive, abhorrent from the spirit and
    genius of the British Constitution which is Liberty; destructive of the Immunities and Privileges granted
    us in our Royal Charter, which assures to the Inhabitants of this Province all the Liberties and
    Immunities of free and natural born subjects of England ; and in reality is not reconcilable to the most
    obvious principles of Reason, as it subjects us to a State of Vassalage and denies those essential
    Natural Rights, which, being the gift of GOD ALMIGHTY, is not in the power of man to alienate.

    8. Resolved, That the late Revenue Act, by which the. Commons of Great Britain have assumed and
    exercised a Power of Giving and Granting to his Majesty the property of the Colonists, without their
    consent, is a grievous Infringement of the Right of disposing of our own Estates.

    9. Resolved, That the unlimited power vested in the Commissioner of the Customs of creating inferior
    Officers and Collectors and the exhorbitant power to these under officers and Ministers to enter, at
    pleasure, any houses or other places and to break open trunks, chests, &c. upon bare suspicion
    of goods concealed, is a grievous Violation of the Sacred Right of Domestic Security.

    10. Resolved, That introducing and quartering Standing Armies in a free country in times of peace,
    without the consent of the People, is a violation of their rights as Free Men.

    11. Resolved, That the enormous Extension of the Power of the Courts of Vice Admiralty, in a great
    measure deprives the People in the Colonies of the Inestimable Right to Trials by Juries.

    12. Resolved, That the Act passed in the last session of Parliament, entitled "An Act for the better
    preserving his Majesty's Dock Yards, Magazines, Ships, Ammunition and Stores," by virtue of which
    Act the Inhabitants of the Colonies may, for certain supposed offences committed against said Act, be
    arrested and carried, from their families, to any part of Great Britain, there to be tried, is an
    Infringement not only of our Constitutional Privileges as Colonists, but of our Natural essential Rights
    as Men.

    13. Resolved, That the Acts for prohibiting Slitting Mills for manufacturing our own iron and restraining
    the Manufacture and Transportation of Hats, as they deprive us of the natural advantages of our own
    climate, the produce of our own country and the honest fruits of our own Labour and Industry are very
    unreasonable and injurious.

    14. Resolved, That the Act restraining the transportation of Wool (the produce of our own Farms) even
    over a ferry, subjects the Inhabitants of this Province to a great an unreasonable Expense, and a
    violation of our Charter Privileges, whereby all Havens, Rivers &c. are expressly granted to the
    Inhabitants of the Province and their Successors, to their own proper use and behoof forever.

    15. Resolved, That the fixing a Stipend to the Office of the Governor of this Province, to be paid out of
    the American Revenue, rendering him independent of the free Grants of the People, has a necessary
    tendency to destroy that Balance of Power which ought to exist between the several branches of the
    Legislature.

    16. Resolved, That the affixing Stipends to the offices of the judges of the Superiour Court of
    Judicature and rendering them independent of the People and dependent on the Crown for Support
    may hereafter (considering the depravity of human nature,) be improved to purposes big with the
    most fatal consequences to the good People of this Province.

    17. Resolved, That the wresting out of our hands Castle William, the principal fortress of this Province,
    and garrisoning it with his Majesty's regular Troops is a violation of our Charter Privileges.

    18. Resolved, That it is the mind and desire of this Town that the judges of the Superiour Court of
    Judicature and all other Officers who receive grants from the Province should have an honourable
    support agreeable to the dignity and importance of their respective stations.

    19. Resolved, That the Representative of this Town be and he is hereby instructed to use his utmost
    endeavours, in a constitutional manner, for the Redress of the aforementioned grievances ; and that
    he in no wise consent to the giving up of any of our Rights, whether derived to us by nature or
    by Compact or Agreement.

    Finally, When we reflect on the arduous enterprize of our Forefathers in transporting themselves to the
    wilds of America, the innumerable fatigues and dangers, the vast expense of treasure and blood that
    attended their beginning and carrying on a Settlement here among the Savages of the Desert and at
    the same time consider the prodigious accession of wealth and power to the mother Country from
    their extended settlements, it still sets a keener edge on a sense of our numerous grievances and we
    cannot help viewing the late rigorous and burdensome Impositions laid on us by the hand of the
    Parent country, as a departure from those truly noble and magnanimous Principles of Liberty which
    used heretofore to add a distinguishing Lustre and Glory to the British Crown.

    Voted that the foregoing Resolves be entered in the Town Book that our Children, in years to come,
    may know the sentiments of their Fathers in Regard to our Invaluable Rights and Liberties.

    Voted that the Town Clerk be directed and he is accordingly directed to transmit a fair attested copy of
    the foregoing Resolves and proceedings of the Town to the Committee of Correspondence for the
    Town of Boston. John George Metcalf, Annals of the Town of Mendon.

                         Compare to the Declaration of Independence          Mendon Menu  

                                        
                               
        Joseph Dorr Jr. and The American Revolution

    Mendon's Joseph Dorr Jr. was an active participant in the American Revolution. His service as a
    representative in the Massachusetts General Court in the 1760s introduced him to fellow legislator,
    Samuel Adams, who had a significant influence on his political thinking. The Harvard educated Dorr
    used his superior writing and oratory skills to inspire Mendon voters to approve and endorse the
    concepts of the Sons of Liberty and to lay the groundwork for one of the most important documents of
    colonial times. His devotion to the cause for independence was remarkable.

    Dorr's influence as a leader was most evident at town meetings. On October 14, 1765, voters
    denounced Britain's Stamp Act, and again on May 21, 1767, they agreed not to buy, sell, or use any
    products from Britain that had a tax. He shared letters that he received from Boston, and he kept
    Mendon people informed about revolutionary happenings.

    A town meeting held on March 1, 1773, at the meeting house at the north end of Old Cemetery, was
    the setting for his most important oration. He and a committee that he chaired prepared nineteen
    resolutions in response to a letter from Boston's Committee of Correspondence. The resolutions
    clearly defined in writing what the revolutionary issues were about. They stated that all men have
    naturally an equal right to life, liberty, and property, and that a just and lawful government must
    originate with the free consent of the people. They also stated that quartering an army in a free country
    in times of peace, without the consent of the people, was a violation of rights of free men. Several
    more resolutions of a similar tone were approved. The eloquence and clarity of Dorr's resolutions
    seemed to strengthen the focus of the revolutionary cause, and drew the attention of colonial leaders.

    Three years later, after July 4, 1776, town clerks in every town in the thirteen colonies were required to
    make a hand-written copy of the Declaration of Independence. As Mendon town clerk, Joseph Dorr Jr.
    was copying the document in his exquisite penmanship, he most assuredly came across some
    words and phrases that were  familiar to him. He had seen them before.

    The aging Thomas Jefferson, in 1826, left instructions before his death, that one of the inscriptions on
    his tombstone would be that he was the author of the Declaration of Independence. Most certainly he
    was, but several of the principles on which it was based were eloquently written, narrated, discussed,
    and approved at Mendon's March 1, 1773, town meeting. Historian, William Cullen Bryant, stated in
    his 1881 book, A Popular History of the United States, (vol. 3, p.472) that the first two public
    documents that influenced the Declaration of Independence were Thomas Paine's "Common Sense"
    and Mendon's nineteen resolutions.         

    Joseph Dorr Jr.'s  parents rest in peace in Old Cemetery about twenty feet from where the meeting
    house once stood. The building was sold, dismantled, and rebuilt as a residence at 8 Hastings
    Street. A barn now occupies the historic site. The spirited rhetoric and eloquent orations have been
    replaced with silence.  Mendon historian, Reverend Carlton Staples, wrote that the resolutions
    "embodied the sentiments of the Declaration of Independence more than three years before that
    immortal document came from  Jefferson's hand," and that the words describe "the fundamental
    principles of our national existence." The graves of Reverend and Mrs. Dorr are the only reminders
    that long ago, on March 1, 1773, their son and his committee put into writing a document of
    resolutions that helped the colonies to establish their identity.  His active participation also included
    his service as a delegate to the Provincial Congress and as a member of the Committee of
    Correspondence.  He also served as Mendon's selectman, town clerk, treasurer, and justice of the
    peace. Joseph Dorr Jr.'s  involvement in the American Revolution had a significant impact on our
    nation, perhaps more than we will ever know!

    The Dorr family lived at a site that is now 59 North Avenue. The house was replaced with the present
    house in the mid 1800s.

    Richard Grady, May 2012

    Above - The gravestones of Joseph Dorr, Jr.'s parents,
    at the Old Cemetery near the center of Mendon.

    Below - The Dorr stones at the Old Cemetery , and
    other views of the cemetery.