Samuel Adams, “Poster Boy” of the American Uprising and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

imgresSamuel Adams was one of Boston’s most prominent revolutionary leaders. He was known for his ability to harness popular resentment against Parliament’s authority to tax the colonies in a productive manner. His role in the origins of the American War of Independence cannot be understated. His unique perspective and his ability to galvanize popular support were pivotal in the success of the Boston Tea Party. His early Tory opponents thought him an extremist. However, his own writings prove otherwise. He simply expressed the opinions of the American populace, a position with which the British Parliament did not agree. The British need to remove Adams as a ringleader of the “Independence” movement laid the groundwork for his reputation as a leader of the uprising. Both he and his friend John Hancock ended up on a “hit list” of sorts.

Adams was born on September 27, 1722, in Boston, Massachusetts. He was born to a family which was well versed in political protest. His father, Deacon Adams, was a brewer, and owned a brewery in Boston. During the 1730’s, Boston experienced a severe economic recession due to a lack of currency, or paper money, in circulation. As a result, in 1739 Deacon Adams helped found the Land Bank which offered paper money to borrowers who mortgaged their property. This Land Bank currency was very popular, especially with poor farmers. It allowed them the power to purchase goods from Boston merchants who were in desperate need of customers. The Land Bank seemed to solve all problems; it gave farmers more purchasing power, and allowed Boston merchants to sell more goods. – See more at: http://www.bostonteapartyship.com/samuel-adams#sthash.G081eJz5.dpuf

mte1oda0otcxntmzndm2ndi5Everyone did not fully support this new form of currency. The opposition was led by the Court Party, or aristocratic loyalists who sat primarily on the Governor’s Council. In 1741, the members of the Court Party used their status to pressure Parliament to outlaw the Land Bank, and the currency it produced. Those that had manufactured the currency, such as Deacon Adams, were now responsible for all of the paper money that was circulating throughout Massachusetts Bay Colony. All of the farmers that borrowed the currency were now owed silver and gold, and this would come out of the pocket of Deacon Adams. This sent his family spiraling into bankruptcy, and even after Deacon Adams passed away, Samuel would have to defend his estate from the members of the Court Party who wished to seize his land as payment for the debts Deacon Adams owed the government.

This debacle left Samuel with a strong distrust of government. He viewed this decision by Parliament as an exercise of arbitrary power. Naturally he gravitated toward the Popular Party, which was led by James Otis, Jr., a fiery orator who had personal grievances against many of the members of the aristocratic Court Party. Otis guided Adams in his young political career, and helped him develop the rhetoric and methods of political resistance, which would be influential in the rise of the Sons of Liberty. By 1765, Samuel Adams was ready to take the lead. Adams helped formulate resistance to the Stamp Act and played a vital role in organizing the Boston Tea Party. [Revisionists claim Adams was conducting a protest meeting that night of the Tea Party and instead of leading the patriots, he attempted to calm the crowd.]

With his father’s death, Samuel inherited both a piece of his father’s estate, as well as the family brewery. He was not known for his frugal habits, and soon he was in debt and the brewery had gone bust. He relied upon his wealthier friends for support. Even so, he was a man of principles and did not take the many bribes offered to him as a member of the Massachusetts legislature. Thomas Jefferson called him the “patriarch of liberty.” He possessed the gift of rhetoric, which stirred the populace. 

He was a second cousin of U.S. President John Adams, with whom he urged a final break from Great Britain, and a signee of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. 

Adams served as a legislator of Massachusetts from 1765 to 1774. Among his accomplishments, he founded Boston’s Committee of Correspondence, which—like similar entities in other towns across the Colonies—proved a powerful tool for communication and coordination during the American Revolutionary War.

imgresFollowing his run with the state legislature, Adams served as a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress until 1781. In that role, he urged a final break from Great Britain and signed America’s Declaration of Independence alongside his second cousin, future U.S. President John Adams. After the war, he attempted to earn a seat in the House of Representatives, but failed. He did help to draft the Articles of Confederation. At the time, he was in his mid 60s. He refused to sign the new Constitution for it did not contain a Bill of Rights. He thought the Bill of Rights would lead to a better balance of power. 

Later, he served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts under John Hancock. He assumed the role of governor with Hancock’s passing. It was his final political post, serving from 1794 through 1797.

Adams became a Democratic-Republican when formal American political parties were created in the 1790s.  Adams died on October 2, 1803, at age 81. He is interred at the Granary Burying Ground in Boston.samuel-adams-grave-at-the-granary-burial-ground-on-the-freedom-trail-bmm606

Resources: 

Biography

Boston Tea Party

Wikipedia 

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in American History, British history, Declaration of Independence, Georgian England, Great Britain and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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