Mendon Town Meeting : March 1, 1773
Mendon's town meeting on March 1, 1773, at the Fourth Meetinghouse, was one of the most important
meetings in the town's history. The outcomes had significant impacts, not only on our town, but on the
thirteen colonies under British rule. A group of six scholarly residents eloquently proposed a document
and supported it with fiery orations that shook the rafters of the wooden building. The spirited voters
gave approval, and the document gained the attention of Boston's Committee of Correspondence and
Sons of Liberty. The document helped to define and focus on the issues of colonial discontent with
Great Britain, and it became an influence on the thinking in the early days of the American Revolution.
The purpose of the meeting was to respond to a letter that the town had received at a February 10
meeting, three weeks earlier. It was from Boston's Committee of Correspondence in regards to the
punitive Acts of Parliament that had shut down the Massachusetts state government and closed the
port of Boston. Voters at the February meeting created a committee to propose a response and present
it on March 1st. The committee included Joseph Dorr Esq., Edward Rawson, James Sumner, John
Tyler, Lt. Joseph Johnson, and William Torrey. The presentation was orated by their chairman, Joseph
Dorr. It was in the form of nineteen resolves or resolutions. The following are a few examples.
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. 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. 19....voted that the foregoing Resolves be
entered into the Town Book, that our children in years to come, may know the sentiments of their
fathers in regard to their invaluable rights and liberties
Dorr served in the General Court (Mass. Legislature) during the 1760's, and Rawson served during the
1770's. With their Boston ties, they were closely acquainted with Sam Adams, John Hancock, Paul
Revere, Joseph Warren, and other leaders of the revolutionary cause. Mendon had representation at all
meetings of the Committee of Correspondence and the Provincial Congress. Clamors for freedom
from tyranny from the radicals in Boston echoed off the walls of Mendon's meetinghouse at the north
end of Old Cemetery. Historian William Cullen Bryant wrote that Mendon's Resolves and Thomas
Paine's "Common Sense" were the first writings that influenced Thomas Jefferson's authorship of the
Declaration of Independence. The town meeting on March 1, 1773 was one of the most important in
our town's history. It not only influenced our town, but to some extent, the early beginnings of our nation!
Richard Grady -- April 13, 2014
All nineteen Resolves and William Cullen Bryant's quotes may be viewed in historian Dan Malloy's
web site : hope1842.com
The site of the Fourth Meetinghouse. It was sold and dismantled
in 1843, and the boards currently exist at 8 Hastings Street. A
barn replaced it later in the 1800’s, owned by the Vincent family.
The barn overlooks the graves of Joseph Dorr’s parents,
Reverend Joseph Dorr and Mrs. Mary Dorr.