Samuel Adams - Quotes, Definition and Facts

Samuel Adams - Quotes, Definition and Facts


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Founding Father Samuel Adams was a thorn in the side of the British in the years before the American Revolution. As a political activist and state legislator, he spoke out against British efforts to tax the colonists, and pressured merchants to boycott British products. He also was an important leader in the Sons of Liberty, a radical group that engaged in violent civil disobedience and retaliation against those who cooperated with the British. Additionally, as a writer, Adams was a skillful propagandist, churning out scores of newspaper articles, pamphlets and letters to promote resistance to British rule.

In fact, while George Washington led the American colonists to victory in the Revolutionary War, there might not have been a revolution at all if it weren’t for provocateurs such as Samuel Adams.

Adams and other firebrands helped push moderate colonial leaders into joining in the resistance against the British, which eventually led to the war. But Adams wasn’t just a rabble rouser. He also was a serious political theorist who championed the notion of individual rights, which became a core American value. During the Revolutionary War, Adams served in the Continental Congress, and helped draft the Articles of Confederation, the document that was the predecessor to the U.S. Constitution.

Samuel Adams’ Background and Early Life

Adams was born in Boston on September 27, 1722 to an affluent Puritan family. His father, Samuel Adams, Sr., was a prominent local merchant and religious deacon who was also active in local politics. His mother, Mary Adams, was the daughter of a local businessman.

Adams attended Boston Latin School and then went to Harvard College. It was there that Adams was introduced to the writings of John Locke, a philosopher in the Enlightenment, who argued that all people were born with certain rights that could not be taken away, and that governments exist by the consent of the people. That idea made a powerful impression upon Adams, who wrote his 1743 master’s degree thesis at Harvard on the legality of resisting British authority.

When Adams’ father died in 1748, he inherited the family business of making malted barley and supplying it to brewers. He also may have tried his hand at brewing, judging from a 1751 newspaper advertisement in which he offered “strong beer, or malt for those who incline to brew it themselves; to be sold by Samuel Adams, at a reasonable rate.”

But Adams wasn’t very good at running the business, and eventually went bankrupt. He was similarly unsuccessful as a city tax collector, performing his duties so ineptly that his ledgers came up short by thousands of pounds.

WATCH: How the Sons of Liberty Helped Ignite the Revolution

Sons of Liberty

Though Adams wasn’t very good with money, he was a good writer. He and some friends started their own short-lived newspaper, The Public Advertiser, which published Adams’ opinion pieces. He used that opportunity to exhort other Bostonians to cherish and protect their personal freedom.

Adams’ voice became more prominent in the mid-1760s, when the British government tried to pay off debt from the Seven Years War by imposing new taxes upon the American colonists. While others merely grumbled about the economic harm, Adams argued in print that the British were violating the colonists’ rights, because they were being taxed without representation in Parliament. He denounced the Stamp Act, a 1765 tax law, as an attempt “to destroy the liberties of America as with one blow.”

That same year, Adams was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, an office he would hold for nine years. Around that time, he also joined a secretive group of activists called the Loyal Nine, which eventually evolved into a more radical organization called the Sons of Liberty.

When British troops arrived in Boston in 1768, Adams became more heavily involved in organizing resistance against the Crown. He wrote scores of newspaper articles under pen names, attacking the British. He also pressured Boston merchants to boycott British goods.

Role in the Boston Tea Party

After the British Parliament passed the Tea Act in 1773, which sought to force the colonists to buy their tea from the British East India Company, Adams helped organize Bostonians to hinder the tea shipments. One group of resisters took matters even further, dressing up as Indian warriors and boarding several British ships to dump their tea, in what became known as the Boston Tea Party. Adams, who may have played a role in planning the event, afterward he praised it publicly, writing that the protesters “have acted upon pure and upright principle.”

Eventually, British authorities had enough of Adams and his agitation. In 1775, British General Thomas Gage led a force of soldiers from Boston to Lexington, on a mission to arrest Adams and fellow colonial radical John Hancock. But American spies got wind of the plan, and American militiamen confronted the British on Lexington Common. The ensuing Battles of Lexington and Concord were the opening armed confrontations that sparked the Revolutionary War.

As a delegate to the Continental Congress, Adams signed the Declaration of Independence, and continued his inflammatory rhetoric. In a 1776 speech in Philadelphia, he castigated Americans who sided with the Crown. “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom—go from us in peace,” Adams said. “We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.”

As a member of the Continental Congress, Adams also helped draft the Articles of Confederation, the predecessor to the U.S. Constitution.

Samuel Adams' Later Years

After leaving the Continental Congress in 1781, Adams went back to Boston, and eventually got back into state politics. He served for a time as president of the Massachusetts Senate and as Lieutenant Governor under Governor John Hancock, his former fellow radical. When Hancock died in office, Adams took over for him, and subsequently was elected to three one-year terms before retiring.

Adams died at the age of 81 on October 2, 1803.

Samuel Adams Quotes

“Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.”

“Some of our politicians would have the people believe that the administration are disposed or determined to have all the grievances which we complain of redressed, if we will only be quiet. But apprehend this would be a fatal delusion.”

“There can be no property in that which another can of right take from us without our consent.”

“If the British administration and government do not return to the principles of moderation and equity, the evil which they profess to aim at preventing by their own rigorous measures, will the sooner be brought to pass—the entire separation and independence of the colonies.”

“We cannot make events. Our business is to wisely improve them.”

“Shame on the men who can court exemption from present trouble and expense at the price of their own posterity’s liberty!”

“How strangely will the tools of a tyrant perve the plain meaning of words!”

Sources

Rights of the Colonists, by Samuel Adams.

The Writings of Samuel Adams, Vol. III (1773-1777) by Samuel Adams.

Biographical sketch of Samuel Adams, American Battlefield Trust.

Desperate Sons: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and the Secret Bands of Radicals Who Led the Colonies to War, by Lee Standiford

Biographical sketch of Samuel Adams, National Park Service.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Samuel Adams: The Life of an American Revolutionary, by John K. Alexander.


Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams (September 27 (OS), 1722–October 2, 1803) was an American leader, politician, writer, and political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Adams helped gather support in the American colonies to rebel against Great Britain. This led to the American Revolution. Adams shaped the foundations of American politics.

Adams, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, was brought up in a religious family. He was educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard College. He started his life as a businessman, but did not like his occupation. He then turned his interest to politics, and became an influential political writer. Adams urged the colonists to withdraw from Great Britain and form a new government. He told the colonies to defend their rights and liberties at town meetings in Boston. He wrote protests against Parliament's taxes against the colonies, such as the Stamp Act of 1765. Adams also organized the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and he was a member of the Continental Congress. He argued for the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress in 1776.

Adams helped write the Massachusetts Constitution with James Bowdoin and his cousin John Adams. Later, Adams helped draft the Articles of Confederation. After the Revolutionary War ended, he ran for the House of Representatives in the 1st United States Congressional election. He lost the election to Fisher Ames. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1789. After John Hancock's death in 1793, Adams served as the acting governor. He was then elected governor in January of 1794. He served in that position until June 1797. He then retired from politics and settled in his home in Boston. He died six years later on October 2, 1803.


Quotes

– John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765.

“There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”

“I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.”

– John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.

“I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read.”

– John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, Dec. 28, 1794.

“I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading.”

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”

“You will ever remember that all the end of study is to make you a good man and a useful citizen.”

“Let every sluice of knowledge be opened and set a-flowing.”

– John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.

“Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”

– John Adams, Thoughts on Government.

John Adams Quotes on Government

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

“When legislature is corrupted, the people are undone.”

John Adams Quotes on Freedom and Democracy

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

– John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814.

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.”

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.”

“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

“Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power.”

– John Adams, letter to John Taylor, 1814.

“Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

– John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, Jul. 17, 1775

John Adams Quotes on Constitution

“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

“…Cities may be rebuilt, and a People reduced to Poverty, may acquire fresh Property: But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored.

“Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”
– John Adams

John Adams Quotes on Power

“The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.”
– John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law.

“Power must never be trusted without a check.”

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.”

“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

– John Adams, Notes for an oration at Braintree, Spring 1772.

Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de très bon foi, believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.

– John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Feb. 2, 1816.

Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.

– John Adams, Novanglus Essays, No. 3.

John Adams Quotes on Law and Politics

“Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
– John Adams, Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials, Dec. 4, 1770.

“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”

“The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.”

“A government of laws, and not of men.”

– John Adams, Novanglus Essays, No. 7.

“In politics the middle way is none at all.”

– John Adams, letter to Horatio Gates, Mar. 23, 1776.

“The law no passion can disturb. ‘Tis void of desire and fear, lust and anger. ‘Tis mens sine affectu, written reason, retaining some measure of the divine perfection. It does not enjoin that which pleases a weak, frail man, but, without any regard to persons, commands that which is good and punishes evil in all, whether rich or poor, high or low.”

– John Adams, Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials, Dec. 4, 1770.

John Adams Quotes on Religion

“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”
– John Adams

“But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe.”
– John Adams

“But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”

– John Adams, letter to FA Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816.

“Human passions unbridled by morality and religion…would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.”

”Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.”

– John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Apr. 19, 1817.

John Adams Quotes on Humankind and Virtue

“Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.”

– John Adams, letter to Edmund Jennings, 1782.

“To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”

“Always stand on principle….even if you stand alone.”

“To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.”

“Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.”

– John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, Nov. 13, 1816

“The only think most people do better than anyone else is read their own handwriting.”

“You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”

– John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, May 14, 1781.

“We cannot insure success, but we can deserve it.”

“The whole drama of the world is such tragedy that I am weary of the spectacle.”

“I am determined to control events, not be controlled by them.”

“A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as the keenest dispositions discovered in the heart of man.”

“Old minds are like old horses you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”

“Virtue is not always amiable.”

– John Adams, diary, Feb. 9, 1779.

John Adams Quotes on Patriotism

“Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.”

John Adams, Letter to Benjamin Rush, 18 April 1808.

John Adams Quotes on Government and Society

“The form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best.”

– John Adams, Thoughts on Government.

“Fear is the foundation of most governments.”

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.”

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, that two become a lawfirm, and that three or more become a congress.”

“The way to secure liberty is to place it in the people’s hands, that is, to give them the power at all times to defend it in the legislature and in the courts of justice.”

“Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.”

– John Adams, letter to J. H. Tiffany, Mar. 31, 1819.

“While all other Sciences have advanced, that of Government is at a stand little better understood little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.”

– John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, Jul. 9, 1813.

John Adams Quotes on Economy

“All the perplexities, confusion, and distress in America arise, not from want of honor or virtue, but from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.”

– John Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, August 25, 1787.

“The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own.”

– John Adams, First Address to Congress, Nov. 23, 1797.

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
– John Adams


Even though Samuel Adams pursued some career paths, he was fascinated by politics. Samuel Adams and his friends published their political essays in a weekly publication called the &ldquoIndependent Advertiser&rdquo in 1748. This was a place where he could call out to his fellow colonists to not let the British Empire take away their rights. Samuel Adams argued that their Puritan values would suffer if they allowed England to oppress them.

Samuel Adams considered becoming a lawyer, but that was short-lived. Adams worked at Thomas Cushing's counting-house but was let go because he was more preoccupied with the political climate than his work. After misusing a loan from his father, Samuel Adams went to work for his family business and became a brewer.

In 1747, Samuel Adams received his first political office as a clerk in the Boston market. When his father died in 1748, Samuel Adams was responsible for his siblings and the family brewing business. Samuel Adams worried about the seizure of land because of the British opposition of a colonist Land Bank. When his father died, Samuel Adams had to deal with the pending lawsuits and the risk of foreclosure.

His next office was tax collect effective 1756. After issues regarding the collection of taxes, his popularity with the people of Boston. This bode well for his political career. By then, Great Britain was dealing with their debt after the French-Indian War from 1756-1763. The British Parliament passed

The Sugar Act of 1764. Samuel Adams declared that the colonies, though under British rule, could not be taxed because they were not represented by British Parliament. His writings presented at the Boston Town Meeting in 1764 were the first recorded document stating that Parliament could not legally tax the colonist. This was the beginning of his fight for the rights of the colonists.

After the Stamp Act of 1765 was passed by the British Parliament, Samuel Adams called for the boycott of British goods. His goal was that Parliament would repeal the act. Organized groups would riot, destroying the offices and homes of British officials in Boston. Even though Samuel Adams was not directly involved in these matters, he was blamed for causing the aggression. When the Townshend Acts were passed in 1767 calling for the tax on imported goods to the colonies, the boycott expanded to three colonies, and military assistance was requested for Boston. The tension was high, yet Adams worked as a reformer. When the Boston Massacre occurred in 1770, he and other leaders worked with British governors to remove the troops.

Samuel Adams worked on the colonists need to declare their independence from Britain. He did this by using his skills as a politician and working with delegates of Massachusetts. On July 4, 1776, Samuel Adams was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

In 1779. Samuel Adams was a representative of the state constitutional convention. He along with his cousin, future president John Adams, and James Bowdoin drafted the Massachusetts Constitution. It was approved in 1780. Even though Samuel Adams retired from the Continental Congress in 1781, he was still politically active. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1789, helped pass the Bill of Rights in 1791, and was governor of Massachusetts from 1794 to 1797.


Samuel Adams - Quotes, Definition and Facts - HISTORY

Where did Samuel Adams grow up?

Samuel Adams grew up in the city of Boston in the colony of Massachusetts. His father, Samuel "Deacon" Adams, was a political leader, a staunch Puritan, and a wealthy merchant. Samuel learned a lot about politics, the rights of the colonies, and religion from his parents.


Samuel Adams by Major John Johnston

Education and Early Career

Samuel learned to read and write as a young child from his mother Mary. He then attended the Boston Latin School. He was an intelligent student and loved to learn. At the age of fourteen Samuel entered Harvard University where he studied politics and history. He graduated with a master's degree in 1743.

Adams began his career in business. His father loaned him some money to start his own business, but Samuel lent half of it to a friend. He soon was out of money. He took a job working for his father, but he had little interest in business or making money.

When the British government passed the Stamp Act of 1765, Adams became angry that the king would tax the colonies without offering them representation in the government. He began to organize protests against the king and the taxes. He formed a group of patriots called the Sons of Liberty.

The Sons of Liberty became an influential group in organizing the patriots against the British. Early on they protested the Stamp Act by hanging a dummy of a British Tax Agent and throwing rocks through the windows of the tax collector's house. They were also involved in the Boston Tea Party.

The Sons of Liberty movement spread throughout the colonies. The group in New York City was especially strong and used violent protests to scare loyalists during the Revolutionary War.

Adams was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly in 1765. He helped to organize the Stamp Act Congress held in New York where the colonies planned a unified response to the Stamp Act. After the Boston Massacre occurred in 1770, Adams worked to get the British army removed from the city. He also organized a way for patriots throughout the colonies to communicate with each other.

Even though the Stamp Act was repealed in 1766, the British government continued to impose taxes on the American colonies. One tax was on tea imported into the colonies. On December 17, 1773 Adams gave a speech to a number of patriots and members of the Sons of Liberty. The people had demanded that the British ships carrying tea in Boston Harbor leave, but the British refused. Later that night, a number of Bostonians boarded the ships and dumped their tea into the harbor.

Adams was selected to represent the Massachusetts colony at the First Continental Congress in 1774. They gathered to send a letter to King George III in protest of the taxes. They also planned to meet again.

Patriots throughout the colonies began to gather weapons. In Massachusetts, Adams helped to organize the minutemen, a group of militia that was ready to fight at moment's notice.

Battles of Lexington and Concord

In April of 1775, the British army set out to march to Concord, Massachusetts in order to destroy patriot weapons that were stored there. They also were going to arrest the patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Adams and Hancock were warned by Paul Revere after his daring ride. They managed to escape capture, but the Revolutionary War had begun.

Declaration of Independence

Adams attended the Second Continental Congress in 1776 where he signed the Declaration of Independence. He also helped to write the Articles of the Confederation.

After the Revolutionary War

After the war, Adams continued to be involved in politics. He served as a state senator, then as lieutenant governor, and finally as governor of Massachusetts. Adams died at the age of eighty-one in 1803.


Interesting Facts about Samuel Adams

1. Adams was one of the three out of twelve children who survived in his family.

Samuel Adams was born on September 16th, 1722 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was Samuel Adams Sr. who owned a brewery in Boston, and his mother was Mary Adams. Adams Sr. was a church deacon as well. They had twelve children including Samuel, but this period of history had high infant mortality, so unfortunately only three of the children survived past their third birthday.

2. He had an interest in politics shaped by family events.

Adams studied at Boston Latin School and commenced his university studies at Harvard College. While his parents urged Adams to pursue his future in the church ministry, he was more interested in politics. Conflict in the family, especially with regards to a banking controversy of his father, urged Adams to seek for answers in the larger scale through government reforms and the like.

3. Adams moved across careers before entering politics.

After graduating from Harvard, Adams was unsure as to what his prospects were. He initially worked at a counting house for a few months. After this, he was employed by his father in the brewery and Adams Jr. worked in the production of malt for brewing beer. After Adams Sr. died in 1748, Adams Jr. took over managing his family. He went on to marrying Elizabeth Checkley and they had six children (of whom only two survived). Checkley had an untimely death in 1757 and Adams would marry Elizabeth Wells in 1764.

4. His distrust of the British government urged him to enter the office.

Adams entered his first office status in 1747 through the Boston Caucus. He served as a tax collector which would eventually end in a failure of sorts. In addition to this, the debacle over the new form of currency in the colonies left a strong sense of distrust of the British rule, according to Adams. He began seeking a more fitting place for his ideals and thus joined the Popular Party led by James Otis Jr., who would culture Adams into becoming a future political leader. By 1765, Adams had become a professional and was well-versed in politics and resistance.

5. He helped to form the Loyal Line:

Britain began to decide that the colonies in America were required to pay more for the war (which the colonists began). From 1765, the British government imposed taxes such as the Sugar Act and the American Revenue act as starter taxation. Adams was quick to raise his voice against this, stating that this was another act of unnecessary authority and that this was a violation of the colonists’ rights. When the parliament replaced the Sugar Act with the more controversial Stamp Act, Adams protested even more. This led to the formation of the Loyal Nine (a group of American patriots who opposed these taxes) which resulted in a series of riots by the colonists.

6. Adams was part of the Sons of Liberty.

Regardless of the protests by the Loyal Nine, the parliament further issued the Townsends Act of 1767 which taxed items such as lead, glass and tea. In response to this, Adams drafted the Massachusetts Circular Letter and together with the riots, this forced the British parliament to send British troops to Boston. Due to this, The Sons of Liberty were formed, which was an anonymous organization that fought to advance the rights of the colonists and fight the taxation of the British parliament. Further riots resulted in the Boston Massacre of 1770.

7. The Boston Tea Party occurred during his governance.

On the 10th of May 1773, the British parliament passed the Tea Act, a tax law which granted the East India Company added support and monopoly on tea trading. This meant that tea in Boston would be cheaper than other tea products in the market of Boston. This culminated in a crisis by November 28th, the tea ships began to arrive in the Boston harbor. Although Adams tried to contain the protests, several demonstrators, some of whom were disguised as Native Americans, climbed aboard the ships and began to destroy the shipments by throwing the crates of tea into the harbor. This was met with a harsh reaction from the British government and would eventually lead to the American revolution.

8. He died with an accomplished but controversial legacy.

Prior to his death, Adams continued to stand with political affairs he was a delegate of the Continental Congress and through this, he guided the congress towards the Declaration of Independence of 1776 amongst a range of other articles. After the American Revolution, he was elected as the Governor of Massachusetts. Adams passed away on October 2nd 1803 at the age of 81.

The legacy he left was considered controversial: on one hand, he is regarded as one of the founding fathers of America and a prominent leader the American revolution. On the other hand, he is seen as someone who spread his propaganda viciously and would incite mob riots and violence to fulfill his own goals (ahead of the country’s goals). Either way, these premises are debated by historians to this very day but we can conclude that modern day United States and its political culture would not have been as it is without the work of Samuel Adams.

I hope that these facts about Samuel Adams were helpful to you. If you want more facts about other historical people, visit historical people pages.


As bad as the Sugar Act was for the British Empire, the Stamp Act was the most controversial act ever enacted by Parliament. The colonists were so infuriated that they hung Andrew Oliver, a stamp distributor and set Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson&rsquos home on fire.

These acts were controversial and many historians have a different opinion on the involvement of Adams. Some suggest that he supported all the actions of these men and some say that he approved of the boycotts and other peaceful demonstrations but condemned the actions of the Bostonians as &ldquomobbish&rdquo regardless of what your view is, it is clear that he was an influential figure during this time period. His influence on each specific event is unknown.

In 1766 he was elected to the House of Representatives and appointed as a clerk. This position worked well for Adams as he was able to use his pen to influence others. He was joined by a wealthy merchant, John Hancock.

These two men became the two central figures in Boston during this time. Sam was the voice, John was the check.


Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams was born on September 27, 1722 in Massachusetts. He was one of 3 surviving children out of the 12 born to Samuel and Mary Adams. He was second cousin to President John Adams. Samuel attended Boston Latin School and then studied at Harvard in 1736. His parents urged him to go into ministry, but he shifted to politics. He graduated from Harvard in 1743 with a master’s degree in politics.

After Harvard, Adams was not certain where to go. He started a job at a counting house, but that did not last too long because his boss thought that he was too easily sidetracked with politics to ever be good at that trade. His father then loaned him a substantial amount of money to start his own business, but Samuel, being terrible with money, lent half of it to a friend and was never repaid and the other half he nickeled and dimed away. This confirmed that he was never going to be a business man.

After his failure at business, his father gave him a job at a family owned malthouse, where he worked as a maltster. In 1748, Samuel and some friends, angered by the British impositions, launched their own newspaper. There they wrote political essays for the public to read. He urged people to resist any encroachments on their personal lives or liberties.

Samuel inherited the responsibility of the family’s affairs upon the death of Samuel Adams, Sr. later that same year. Shortly after, he married his pastor’s daughter, Elizabeth Checkley. She died after giving birth to their sixth child in 1757, however only two of their children lived to be adults. Heartbroken, he did not remarry until 1764, when he took Elizabeth Wells to be his wife.

Portrait of Governor Samuel Adams (1722-1803). Undated engraving. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Samuel Adams, painted by Major John Johnston in 1795 while Adams was Governor. Public domain image.

In 1747, Samuel Adams was elected to his first political office as a clerk to the Boston market. He became a tax collector in 1756, he often did not collect taxes from people, and while this made him very popular among the town’s citizens, he shorted his own income a lot. Later, after the Seven Years’ War, Samuel had become a prominent figurehead in his political group for the struggle against Great Britain.

When Britain started taxing America, Samuel Adams was one of the leading public opposers. Samuel, as one of the <a href=”sons-of-liberty.html”>Sons of Liberty, took a leading role in starting the Boston Tea Party of 1773, although his exact involvement is still disputed. Upon the ship’s arrival in the Boston harbor, he passed a circular note to invite the townspeople to a secret gathering. Hundreds of people showed, and Samuel fired up the room with a spirit of revolution, urging the people to send the ship back without paying. This spirit of revolution led only to the Boston Tea Party, causing the British great monetary loss.

During the Revolutionary War, Adams was a member of the first and second Continental Congress. Samuel fought indefatigably to sway congress toward independence. In 1776, Samuel Adams was a proud signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. After the signing of the Declaration, he worked in the military committees and even joined the war briefly in 1777.

Massachusetts Senate

He continued helping in political aspects of war through the Revolution, and upon reaching the end of the war he returned to his home in Massachusetts. He was elected to the state senate in Massachusetts, and served as that body’s president. Later, he took part in the promotion of Massachusetts providing free education for children, even women. Adams spent the remainder of his life fighting political battles for the better of the people in his country, until he died on October 2, 1803.

Samuel Adams is proof that a man who disregards money but seeks the welfare and common good of the people can go down in the history books as a great man.


Morality

&ldquoHe who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.&rdquo

&ldquoNeither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt&rdquo

&ldquoReligion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness.&rdquo

"He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people."

&ldquoHow strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words&rdquo

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.&rdquo

&ldquoA general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.&rdquo

"Liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals."


Many cousins of Samuel Adams were also notable citizens of Boston and important figures in the founding of the United States. His first cousin was John Adams, Jr., whose mother came from the locally famous Boylston family. John Adams was the second president of the United States and his son, John Quincy Adams, was the sixth president and a first cousin once removed to Samuel Adams.

Samuel Adams studied as a youth at Boston Latin School, also the alma mater of John Hancock and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1736 Adams entered Harvard University and studied a range of subjects. He developed an interest in politics while at Harvard and left with a master's degree in politics in 1743.


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