Suffolk Resolves

Of the numerous meetings held in Massachusetts during 1774 to protest the recent Coercive Acts, the best known was that of delegates from Boston and other towns in surrounding Suffolk County, which was first held at Dedham on September 6 and then adjourned to Milton on the 9th of September. Joseph Warren captured the mood of his fellow delegates in a series of resolutions that became known as the Suffolk Resolves. They included the following:

  • proclaimed the Coercive Acts to be unconstitutional and void; officials charged with the enforcement of these illegal acts were called upon to resign

  • urged Massachusetts to establish a separate free state until the Coercive Acts were repealed

  • suggested that future tax collections be retained by the new Massachusetts government and not passed along to British officials

  • called for the creation and enforcement of a boycott of British goods and trade with Britain

  • advised the people of Massachusetts to appoint militia officers and commence arming their local forces

  • warned General Thomas Gage that efforts to arrest citizens on political charges would result in the detention of the arresting officers

  • announced that subjects no longer owe loyalty to a king who violates their rights.
These resolutions were passed by a unanimous vote of the Suffolk County towns on September 9. Paul Revere carried a copy of the Suffolk Resolves to the Continental Congress , which was then in session in Philadelphia. Discussion of the Massachusetts actions split the Congress; some felt the statements were too radical and were an invitation to war. Nonetheless, the Resolves were endorsed by a vote of the Congress on September 17.

Massachusetts had unmistakably emerged as the leader of the resistance against British policies. In particular, its decisions to establish a separate government, to collect and retain taxes, and to raise and arm military forces were clearly revolutionary steps and exceeded the actions taken previously by the other colonies.


See timeline of the American Revolution.