Father of the American Revolution: pious, principled, and passionate for liberty, Samuel Adams championed the cause of independence with his unique ability to communicate, motivate, and organize. (History: Greatness of the Founders).
Shortly after the Declaration of Independence had been ratified by the 13 independent colonies, the British routed American forces on Long Island and Manhattan Island in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of . The British commander, Admiral Lord Howe, called for a conference with a delegation from the Continental Congress about terms of peace. Congress sent a delegation comprised of Benjamin Franklin, Edward Rutledge Edward Rutledge (November 23, 1749–January 23, 1800), South Carolina statesman, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and later governor of South Carolina.
Like his eldest brother Johnanathan Rutledge, Edward was born in Charleston. and John Adams, who met with Howe under a diplomatic truce in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. on September 9, 1776. Howe told the three signers of the Declaration that His Majesty
Howe emphasized the word "decided" because the British admiral had brought with him from England a England A refers to England's developmental national teams in several sports. Players on these teams often "graduate" to slots on the appropriate senior national team. The phrase may refer to:
1. A child of a first cousin of one's parent.
2. A child of one's first cousin; a first cousin once removed. , Samuel Adams of Boston, who had labored more than anyone else in the nation to bring the colonies to the brink of independence. At the time, John Adams was less well-known as a proponent of American independence than his cousin Samuel. When John Adams journeyed as a diplomat in France several years later, he was constantly confused with "le fameux Adams."
Samuel Adams has rightly come to be known as the "Father of the American Revolution American Revolution, 1775–83, struggle by which the Thirteen Colonies on the Atlantic seaboard of North America won independence from Great Britain and became the United States. It is also called the American War of Independence. " for his ability to organize Boston tradesmen, clergymen, politicians, and militiamen in favor of the cause of independence. By September 1776, he had been at the top of the British crown's most wanted Most Wanted may refer to:
2. This offence is punished by the statute laws of the different states according to their several provisions. in the King's dominions." "Every dip of his pen," Hutchinson's predecessor, royal Governor Francis Bernard Sir Francis Bernard, 1st Baronet (1712-16 June 1779) was a British colonial administrator who served as Governor in New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Francis was born in Brightwell, Oxfordshire, England to the Rev. Francis and Margery Bernard and was christened on July 12, 1712. , wrote, "stung like a horned snake (Zool.) the cerastes.
See also: Horned ." Although John Adams had been given the title of "Colossus Colossus - (A huge and ancient statue on the Greek island of Rhodes).
Samuel Adams' father, Samuel Adams Sr., was a wealthy businessman and an influential leader in Boston town politics when Sam was born in 1722. Young Samuel also had the benefit of a good classical education. He studied at the renowned Boston Latin School Boston Latin School, at Boston; opened 1635 as a school for boys; one of the oldest free public schools in the United States. Many famous men attended the school, including five signers of the Declaration of Independence and four presidents of Harvard. and at the age of 14 was admitted to Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College
Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. , where his mother wanted him to study for the ministry. But he was soon studying other subjects, although he prayed daily and strictly adhered to his Congregationalist con·gre·ga·tion·al·ism
1. A type of church government in which each local congregation is self-governing.
2. Congregationalism faith throughout his life. Adams' master's thesis at Harvard was "whether it be lawful to resist the Supreme Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved."
While the manuscript is lost to history, Adams' attachment to the theories of John Locke (which he studied at Harvard) can lead one to guess the content of the thesis.
Young Samuel quickly proved incompetent as a businessman after graduation, despite his father's help. Sam was let go from his first job in a counting house A counting house, or compting house, literally is the building, room, office or suite in which a business firm carries on operations, particularly accounting. By an obvious synecdoche, it has come to mean the accounting operations of a firm, however housed. after only a few months because -- his employer informed Sam Sr. -- he was training people for business and not for politics. Samuel Sr. then loaned young Sam 1,000 pounds to start a business for himself. The money was soon gone; Sam loaned half to a friend who squandered squan·der
tr.v. squan·dered, squan·der·ing, squan·ders
1. To spend wastefully or extravagantly; dissipate. See Synonyms at waste.
2. it. When Sam inherited his father's brewery in 1748, he allowed the business to run down completely from mismanagement mis·man·age
tr.v. mis·man·aged, mis·man·ag·ing, mis·man·ag·es
To manage badly or carelessly.
mis·manage·ment n. . The brewery failed entirely by 1764. Only when he was able to win one of the four positions as tax collector for the town of Boston in 1756 did Sam finally have a regular source of income to support his wife Elizabeth, a Congregationalist minister's daughter he married in 1749, and their children.
Elizabeth died in 1757 and was survived by only two of their five children. Sam remarried in 1764 to Betsy Wells, who proved a loyal wife politically as well as an astute manager of household and family finances.
A tax collector position might seem like an unlikely position for Adams, who became famous for protesting taxes and who had a personal history that demonstrated he was marginally qualified to handle money. And it is true he was a poor tax collector; he was such a mark for hard-luck stories that his accounts gradually fell thousands of pounds behind schedule. (In his defense, the three other Boston tax collectors also fell behind in their collections.) But Adams' penchant for mercy as a tax collector also made him extremely popular in the city, and he was soon found spending evenings at Boston Town Meetings, or at the Caucus Club meetings at Tom Dawes' estate on Purchase Street.
The Caucus Club had been an influential private group of Whiggish legislators since the days of Samuel Adams Sr., though the rise of Tory party power throughout the empire caused the organization's influence to wane in the years leading up to the 1760s. In 1761, Samuel had hitched his political wagon to a rising star, James Otis This article is about the political advocate. For the author, see James Otis Kaler. For the mayor of San Francisco, see James Otis (politician).
James Otis, Jr. (February 5, 1725 – May 23, 1783) was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts who was an early advocate of the , the leader of the patriotic faction in the Town Meeting and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives The Massachusetts House of Representatives is the lower house of the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is composed of 160 members elected from an equal number of single-member electoral districts across the Commonwealth. . As Otis' able lieutenant, Adams was soon filling the local newspapers with information about threats to liberty on issues such as the Writs of Assistance. Samuel became a regular contributor to the Boston Gazette, usually under Latinized pen names such as Vindex, Candidus, and Populus.
The Stamp Act Stamp Act, 1765, revenue law passed by the British Parliament during the ministry of George Grenville. The first direct tax to be levied on the American colonies, it required that all newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, commercial bills, advertisements, and other
When the British won the French and Indian War French and Indian War
North American phase of a war between France and Britain to control colonial territory (1754–63). The war's more complex European phase was the Seven Years' War. in 1763, English taxpayers found themselves saddled with heavy taxes to pay off the war debt. Before long, British politicians were finding ways to placate British taxpayers who complained about having to pay taxes for debt believed to be acquired solely to protect the untaxed Adj. 1. untaxed - (of goods or funds) not taxed; "tax-exempt bonds"; "an untaxed expense account"
nontaxable, exempt - (of goods or funds) not subject to taxation; "the funds of nonprofit organizations are nontaxable"; "income exempt colonies.
Stepping up to make the colonists pay taxes to fund the British army was George Grenville, Chancellor of the Exchequer Chan·cel·lor of the Exchequer
The senior finance minister in the British government and a member of the prime minister's cabinet.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Brit , with his Sugar Act. The 1764 act of Parliament was technically a cut in a longstanding but unenforced tax on molasses molasses, sugar byproduct, the brownish liquid residue left after heat crystallization of sucrose (commercial sugar) in the process of refining. Molasses contains chiefly the uncrystallizable sugars as well as some remnant sucrose. , but the colonies erupted with the prospect that they would actually have to pay taxes without their consent for the first time. Adams exclaimed of the Sugar Act: "If our trade may be taxed, why not our lands and everything we possess or make use of? This we apprehend annihilates our charter right to govern and tax ourselves. It strikes at our British privileges, which we hold in common with our fellow subjects who are natives of Great Britain." The royal governor, Francis Bernard, claimed that the Sugar Act produced "a greater alarm in this country than the taking of Fort William Henry Fort William Henry, at the southern end of Lake George, NE N.Y.; built by the English in 1755. In 1757, during the last conflict of the French and Indian Wars, it was captured and destroyed by the French. Although French Gen. [by the French] did in 1757." In reality the petition by Massachusetts General Court The Massachusetts General Court (formally styled, The Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) is the state legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (legislature) to repeal the tax was tame when compared with later demonstrations.
That same year, Grenville proposed that a different tax be laid in Parliament. Grenville's plan was for a Stamp Act that would tax legal documents, newspapers, and commercial papers. The news of the new, first-time-ever direct tax on the colonies scheduled to take force in 1765 ran up and down the Atlantic coast like wildfire. Nine of the 13 colonies sent delegates to a convention called by Massachusetts on October 1765 in New York and issued a "Declaration of Rights" to announce that Parliament had no right to tax Americans: "[I]t is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted right of Englishmen, that no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives."
Boycotts of British goods were announced in Philadelphia, New York Philadelphia, New York may refer to:
tr.v. ran·sacked, ran·sack·ing, ran·sacks
1. To search or examine thoroughly.
2. To search carefully for plunder; pillage. by a drunken mob, which robbed it of any valuables that could be carried off and destroyed his furniture.
Though it is unclear how much of the violence Adams winked at, he genuinely condemned the naked robbery of his rival Hutchinson. Violence and intimidation by patriots did nothing to satisfy the outraged voters in Massachusetts. The year 1766 saw the Patriot's Whig party Whig party, one of the two major political parties of the United States in the second quarter of the 19th cent. Origins
As a party it did not exist before 1834, but its nucleus was formed in 1824 when the adherents of John Quincy Adams and Henry take control of the Massachusetts House, to which Sam Adams was elected. Adams and Otis were elected Speaker and Clerk of the General Court (House of Representatives), respectively. Adams also took effective control of the Boston Town Meeting as well, nominally as Otis' lieutenant. As Adams' biographer John C. Miller reveals, it was not long before Sam was ruling the roost and "at the Caucus Club, moderators, selectmen SELECTMEN. The name of certain officers in several of the United States, who are invested by the statutes of the several states with various powers. , assessors, tax collectors, wardens, fire wards, and representatives were picked by Adams and his friends several weeks before the elections."
Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in March 1766, but it was not long before the British were trying to find another way to have Americans help pay for the British military establishment. In 1767, Charles Townshend won Parliament's approval to tax importation of paper, paint, tea and lead into the colonies. The Townshend Act set off a new wave of nationwide protest.
More than any other man in America, Samuel Adams was up to the task of organizing opposition to Parliament's unjust and illegal act. John Adams described Samuel as "a plain, simple, decent citizen, of middling stature, dress and manners." Samuel Adams was the perfect organizer for the time, since he fit in well in any element in society and organized virtually every element of it for the patriotic cause. "Adams seemed equally at home in meetinghouse meet·ing·house
A building used for public meetings and especially for Protestant or Quaker religious services.
Noun 1. meetinghouse - a building for religious assembly (especially Nonconformists, e.g. or tavern: he was as much at ease with deacons and parishioners as he was with the shipyard workers and artisans," explained Miller in Sam Adams. Pioneer in Propaganda. "From early life, Adams spent much time among the common people of North Boston and he gradually came to be regarded as their spokesman; but his family's social position and his own piety gave hi great influence among the middle class townspeople."
Adams and Otis also organized the "Black Regiment" of Congregationalist ministers on behalf of the patriot cause in addition to the bar patrons and the merchants clubs. The dockworkers had long sided with him at the Boston Town Meetings. Although Tories derided the former brewer as "Sam the Maltster Malt´ster
n. 1. A maltman.
Noun 1. maltster - a maker of malt
maker, shaper - a person who makes things ," the bars and taverns of Boston have a special place in the American revolution. "Adams dearly loved a pot of ale, a good fire, and the company of merchants and shipyard workers of radical political opinions," Miller continued. "Under Sam Adams, Boston taverns became nurseries of revolution as well as 'nurseries of legislators.' He made the headquarters of the Revolution the Green Dragon Tavern Green Dragon Tavern was a public house used as a tavern and meeting place located on Union Street in Boston's North End. Purchased in 1764 by the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons for its 1st floor meeting rooms, the basement tavern was used by several secret groups and became known in Union Street, where the Boston Caucus Club held its meetings and where Sons of Liberty from the nearby shipyards, ropewalks and docks met to hear him hold forth against British tyranny and the Tories. At the Bunch of Grapes in King's Street, Adams and the Whigs discussed the British Constitution and the Massachusetts Ch arter, and in the Salutation Tavern in Salutation Alley they plotted the downfall of the royal government. Thus, the setting of much of the preliminary work of the Revolution in Massachusetts Bay is under the roof of a Boston tavern."
Adams had a genuine talent for making patriotism fun. There were constant celebrations and patriotic dinners to note patriotic landmarks. Among the key festivals promulgated prom·ul·gate
tr.v. prom·ul·gat·ed, prom·ul·gat·ing, prom·ul·gates
1. To make known (a decree, for example) by public declaration; announce officially. See Synonyms at announce.
2. was an annual lecture and dinner to mark the anniversary of the 1770 "Bloody Massacre" of Boston. "Otis and Adams are politic in promoting these festivals," wrote John Adams, "for they tinge the minds of people; they impregnate im·preg·nate
1. To make pregnant; to cause to conceive; inseminate.
2. To fertilize an ovum.
3. To fill throughout; saturate. them with the sentiments of liberty; they render the people fond of their leaders in the cause and averse and bitter against all opposers."
Adams used the Sons of Liberty as well as the Committees of Correspondence for secret communications between city and rural areas of the state and with other states. And he benefited from secrecy within the Masonic orders, though he didn't join the organization. "Many of his friends were high-ranking Masons and the Boston Lodge did much to foster the Revolution, but Sam Adams never joined the Masonic Society' Miller explains. "Adams disliked secret societies where ceremonial ritual was practiced, and he always distrusted political organizations which he had not had a hand in creating."
After the Townshend Act came to America, the Massachusetts General Court immediately passed a set of resolutions written by Samuel Adams denying
Parliament had taxing power over the colonies. The British government formally replied in 1768 that the resolutions must be rescinded on pain of dissolution of the legislative body, and that other colonies must denounce the Massachusetts resolves. The General Court responded with a five-to-one vote reaffirming support of the resolves, and resolutions of support of Massachusetts poured in from other states. Governor Bernard dismissed the legislature and called for British troops to occupy the increasingly rebellious town, but Adams saw to it that the legislators convened despite Bernard's ruling. From the convention, the legislature appealed to other states for military aid and called for resistance to the military occupation.
The landing of troops in Boston had a national effect. Many saw the formation of a military government on the horizon, particularly since the governor had ordered the legislature to be dismissed. Massachusetts received numerous pledges of military support from other colonies, but Adams reasoned that the time had not come to push for military resistance. His ally James Otis was still intensely loyal to the mother country, as were many other Americans. But Otis would not long oppose independence. In 1769, British Customs agent John Robinson beat Otis so severely that he never recovered mentally. Thereafter, Otis suffered from bouts of insanity and Sam quickly took official leadership of the patriotic movement.
Many cite the arrival of British troops as the event that triggered Samuel to conclude that independence from Britain was inevitable. Adams set in motion a strategy to passively resist the redcoats. When Governor Bernard demanded that the Massachusetts General Court vote funds for constructing barracks bar·rack 1
tr.v. bar·racked, bar·rack·ing, bar·racks
To house (soldiers, for example) in quarters.
1. A building or group of buildings used to house military personnel. for the troops, not a farthing came from Adams' and Otis' legislature. Adams' Sons of Liberty saw to it that no property owner could be found to offer suitable land for housing soldiers. The British soldiers were forced to spend much of the cold Boston winter in tents constructed on the Boston Common. Eventually, the British treasury paid to use an old warehouse for housing the soldiers. One of the barracks was placed opposite Faneuil Hall, meeting place of the Boston Town Meeting, with cannons pointed directly at the doors of Sam Adams' political stronghold.
Violence broke out on March 5, 1770 when some boys throwing snowballs at a British sentry attracted an angry mob, which a group of redcoats eventually fired upon. Five colonists were killed in the incident, which became known as the Boston Massacre, and the ensuing furor ended in a trial and acquittal of the British captain who allegedly gave the order to fire.
Parliament overturned the Townshend Act taxes - except for the tax on tea - in 1769, but patriots were quick to point out that the apparent British concession had little impact. They protested the principle of taxation without representation, not the amount. And the tax on tea generated more revenue than all the other Townshend duties put together anyway. By the time Parliament decided to bail out the British East India company British East India Company: see East India Company, British. in 1773 by dumping tea on the American market, outraged patriots in Boston were ready. Samuel Adams summoned his mechanic and dockworker friends into Faneuil Hall on December 17th and, with the charge that "this meeting can do nothing further to save this country," sent them off, thinly disguised as "Narragansett Indians," to throw all the tea into the harbor. Although the British and their Tory allies charged Boston with complete lawlessness, the "Indians" were remarkably disciplined. They were ordered not to harm anything but tea on the British ship, and later replaced a lock they ha d broken. Furthermore, there was little else the patriots could do to protest the illegal tax. They had no representation in Parliament, and the King had laughed at their petitions. Continued British indifference to American rights meant that violence and eventual separation from England had become necessary for the colonists' continued freedom.
Other colonies followed suit by preventing tea from being landed, and pledged support for Boston. Parliament passed what the colonists called the "Intolerable Acts." The measures closed the port of Boston The Port of Boston is a major seaport located in Boston Harbor and adjacent to the City of Boston. It is the largest port in Massachusetts as well as being one of the principal ports on the east coast of the United States. until the tea was paid for, called for parliamentary control over the governor's council and judges, closed the Boston Town Meeting, and made arrangements for quartering troops in Americans' homes.
Samuel Adams' militia preparations were again ahead of the rest of the nation; Massachusetts' militia was ready for action with the redcoats in 1775 and throughout the war. Adams had been having towns hold militia exercises for years prior to the move for independence. The reinvigorated militia exercises were held under the old system that the British had set up for colonial defense during the French and Indian war; militias operated under the auspices and control of town and county governments. Massachusetts eventually provided more than a fourth of the troops used by the continental army during the war for independence.
Adams participated in the first and second Continental Congresses as a patient and dogged advocate of independence. Realizing that a resolution of independence was not possible in the 1774 Continental Congress, Adams worked with fellow "radicals" Christopher Gadsden and Richard Henry Lee to ensure that the Congress adopted the Massachusetts Suffolk Resolves that Paul Revere Revere, city (1990 pop. 42,786), Suffolk co., E Mass., a residential suburb of Boston, on Massachusetts Bay; settled c.1630, set off from Chelsea and named for Paul Revere 1871, inc. as a city 1914. had delivered to Philadelphia. In the second Continental Congress, Adams patiently and successfully worked behind the scenes, influencing the floor debate that brought congressmen to the conclusion that independence was the only option.
Samuel Adams' reputation suffers in the modern era because of the stigma of a particularly unfavorable and unfair biography of the Boston patriot. John C. Miller's 1936 Samuel Adams: Pioneer in Propaganda remains the most popular biography of Samuel Adams published in the last 100 years, and yet the author generally assumes the worst possible motivations for Adams' actions. The working premises for the book were that Adams sought independence from the very beginning of his ambitious public life and that Samuel died a lonely and unloved man because he was capable of destroying government but incapable of building up a new government. These claims are flatly untrue. There is no evidence Adams sought independence from Britain before British troops landed in Boston in 1768, and Miller fails to cite any.
While America did enjoy the assistance of talented revolutionaries who proved incapable of building up a new government, such as Thomas Paine and John Paul Jones, Samuel Adams should not be counted among that group. He served honorably after independence in the Continental Congress. Adams played a part in the drafting of the Massachusetts constitution in 1780, a constitution still in force, and supported adoption of the U.S. Constitution on condition that a Bill of Rights later be attached to it. When rebels attacked the state government in the 1784 Shays' Rebellion, Adams did not hesitate to condemn the illegal acts. And Adams went on to a successful political career in Massachusetts politics as an ally of Governor John Hancock, winning the position of Lieutenant Governor in 1789. He was elected to the position every year thereafter until Hancock's death in 1794, after which Adams was annually elected Governor of Massachusetts until bad health forced him to retire in 1797.
Samuel Adams was everywhere described as a person who lived the principles of freedom and morality to which he publicly subscribed. When presented with the gift of a black slave girl in 1765, Samuel and Betsy Adams quickly set her free despite their poor economic situation. "He is a man," John Adams wrote, "of refined policy, steadfast integrity, exquisite humanity, genteel erudition er·u·di·tion
Deep, extensive learning. See Synonyms at knowledge.
Erudition of editors—Hare.
Noun 1. , obliging o·blig·ing
Ready to do favors for others; accommodating.
o·bliging·ly adv. , engaging manners, real as well as professed piety, and a universal good character, unless it should be admitted that he is too attentive to the public, and not enough so to himself or his family. He is always for softness and prudence, where they will do; but is stanch stanch 1 also staunch
tr.v. stanched also staunched, stanch·ing also staunch·ing, stanch·es also staunch·es
1. To stop or check the flow of (blood or tears, for example).
2. , and stiff, and strict, and rigid, and inflexible in the cause." Thomas Jefferson likewise acknowledged his greatness: "[H]e was truly a great man, wise in council, fertile in resources, immovable in his purposes, and had, I think, a greater share than any other member, in advising and directing our measures, in the Northern war."
Americans would do well to rehabilitate the reputation of Samuel Adams, the primary organizer of our independence.