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Father of the American Revolution

Father of the American Revolution

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Published by Hal Shurtleff

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Published by: Hal Shurtleff on Jan 26, 2014
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FlI5IrJRV
GREATNESSOF
TH
FOUN RS
Father
of
the
AmericanRevolution
P
ious
 
principled
 
and
passionate
for
libe
rty
Samuel
Adams
championed
the
cause
of
independence
with
his
uniqueability
to
communicate
 motivate 
and
organize
iii
Ol
;=
N
8
N
@
L
==
Famed
firebrand
Samue
l
 dams
was
well
k
nown
foreffec
tive
ly
promot
ing
indepe
n
dence
amo
ng
the
colo
nists.ToryGovernorof
Massachus
ettsTh
oma
s
Hut
ch
inson,notingA
da
ms
powe
rsofpersuasive
writing
,
said
I
doubt
whether
t
he
r
isagr
eat
erincendiaryintheKing sd
ominions
.
by
 homas
 
ddlem
S
hortlyaftertheDeclaration
of
Independencehadbeenratifiedbythe13independentcolonies,theBritish routedAmericanforcesonLongIslandandManhattanIslandinNewYork.The Britishcommander,AdmiralLordHowe, calledforaconferencewithadelegationfromtheContinentalCongressabouttermsofpeace.Congresssentadelegationcom prised
of
BenjaminFranklin,EdwardRut ledgeandJohnAdams,whometwithHowe underadiplomatictruceinNewYorkCityonSeptember9,1776.Howetoldthethree signersoftheDeclarationthatHisMajestyKingGeorgeIIIwaswillingtopardonpatriotswhowouldgoovertotheBritishside
of
theconflict.JohnAdamsimmediatelyannouncedthathewasdeterminednotto breakfaithwiththecauseofindependence,andHoweinstantlyturnedtoFranklinandRutledgeandintimatedthathiswordshadbeenmeantforthetwoofthem: Mr. Adamsisa
 e i e
character. Howeemphasizedtheword decided becausetheBritishadmiralhadbroughtwithhimfromEnglandalist
of
arch-patriotswhocouldnotbepardonedunder anycircumstance.Personsonthatlist wouldhavetohang;theirfatehadindeedbeendecidedinEnglandifthepatrioticcauseweretofail.AndJohnAdamswasnearthetopofthatlist.Higherstillonthe listwasJohn ssecondcousin,Samuel
 
Adams
of
Boston,whohadlaboredmore
 
th n
 nyon ls inth n tionto
 ring
th
coloniestothebrinkofindependence.At
j
thetime,JohnAdamswaslesswell-known
B
asaproponentofAmericanindependence
 
thanhiscousinSamuel.WhenJohnAdams
 ii
journeyedasadiplomatinFranceseveral
 
-c
yearslater,hewasconstantlyconfused with lefameuxAdams.  SamuelAdamshasrightly
 om
tobeknownasthe FatheroftheAmericanRev olution forhisabilitytoorganizeBostontradesmen,clergymen,politicians,and militiameninfavor
of
thecause
of
inde-
THENEW MERI N
JULY
29,2002
33
 
e
The
StampAct
WhentheBritishwontheFrenchandIn dianWarin1763,Englishtaxpayersfound themselvessaddledwithheavytaxestofailedentirelyby1764.Onlywhenhewasabletowinoneofthefourpositionsastax collectorforthetownofBostonin1756didSamfinallyhavearegularsourceofincometosupporthiswifeElizabeth,aCongregationalistminister sdaughterhemar riedin1749,andtheirchildren.Elizabethdiedin1757andwassurvivedbyonlytwooftheirfivechildren.Samremarriedin1764toBetsyWells,whoprovedaloyalwifepoliticallyaswellasanastutemanagerofhousehold andfamilyfinances.AtaxcollectorpositionmightseemlikeanunlikelypositionforAdams,whobecamefamousfor protestingtaxesandwhohadaper sonalhistorythatdemonstratedhewasmarginallyqualifiedtohandle money.Anditistruehewasapoortaxcollector;hewassuchamarkforhard-luckstoriesthathisaccounts graduallyfellthousandsofpounds behindschedule.(Inhisdefense,the threeotherBostontaxcollectorsalsofellbehindintheircollections.)But Adams penchantformercyasatax collectoralsomadehimextremelypopularinthecity,andhewassoon foundspendingeveningsatBostonTownMeetings,orattheCaucus ClubmeetingsatTomDawes estate onPurchaseStreet.TheCaucusClubhadbeenaninfluentialprivategroupofWhiggish legislatorssincethedaysofSamuel AdamsSr.,thoughtheriseofTory partypowerthroughouttheempirecausedtheorganization sinfluence towaneintheyearsleadinguptothel760s.In1761,Samuelhadhitchedhispo liticalwagontoarisingstar,JamesOtis, theleaderofthepatrioticfactionintheTownMeetingandamemberoftheMassachusettsHouseofRepresentatives.AsOtis ablelieutenant,Adamswassoonfill ingthelocalnewspaperswithinformationaboutthreatstolibertyonissuessuchas theWritsofAssistance.Samuelbecamea regularcontributortothe
 ostonGazette
usuallyunderLatinizedpennamessuchasVindex,Candidus,andPopulus. jects,althoughheprayeddailyandstrictlyadheredtohisCongregationalistfaiththroughouthislife.Adams master sthesisat Harvardwas whetheritbe
lawf
ultoresisttheSupremeMagistrate,ifthe
 ommo
nwealthcannotbeotherwisepreserved. 
Whilethemanuscriptislosttohistory, Adams attachmenttothetheoriesofJohn Locke(whichhestudiedatHarvard)canleadonetoguessthecontentofthethesis.YoungSamuelquicklyprovedincom petentasabusinessmanaftergraduation,despitehisfather shelp.Samwasletgo fromhisfirst
job
inacountinghouseafteronlyafewmonthsbecause-hisem ployerinformedSamSr.-hewastrain ingpeopleforbusinessandnotforpolitics.SamuelSr.thenloanedyoungSam1,000 poundstostartabusinessforhimself.Themoneywassoongone;Samloanedhalfto afriendwhosquanderedit.WhenSaminheritedhisfather sbreweryin1748,heallowedthebusinesstorundowncompletelyfrommismanagement.Thebrewery
 Colossusof
Independence
 
thoughhewas,John
 d
amswasless
w ll
-k
now
nthanhiscousinSamuel.
 h
enlaterservingasadiplomatinFrance,John
 d
amswasconstantlyconfused
wi
th 
e
fameux
 d
ams. 
Early
Life
SamuelAdams father,SamuelAdamsSr., wasawealthybusinessmanandaninfluentialleaderinBostontownpoliticswhenSamwasbornin1722.YoungSamuelalsohadthebenefitofagoodclassicaleducation.HestudiedattherenownedBoston LatinSchoolandattheageof14wasad mittedtoHarvardUniversity,wherehismotherwantedhimtostudyforthemin istry.Buthewassoonstudyingothersub- pendence.BySeptember1776,hehad beenatthetopoftheBritishcrown s mostwantedlistformorethanayear.BritishGeneralThomasGagefixedtheblamefortherevolutionsquarelyupon arch-rebels AdamsandhisBostonlieutenants. Thisprovincebeganit, GagesaidofMassachusetts,adding, Imightsaythistown ofBoston.
 he
 shotheard roundtheworld wasfiredpartlybecauseofGage sattemptstoarrestSamuelAdamsandhisfriendJohnHancockinLexingtononApril19,1775.Tory GovernorofMassachusettsThomasHutchinsonadmittedthathisarchrivalSamuelAdamshadacquireda powertousehiswritingsopersuasivelythatitwas beyondanyothermanIeverknew. HutchinsonsaidbitterlyofSamuelAdamsthat IdoubtwhetherthereisagreaterincendiaryintheKing sdominions. Everydipofhispen, Hutchinson spredecessor, royalGovernorFrancisBernard,wrote,  stunglikeahornedsnake. Although JohnAdamshadbeengiventhetitleof ColossusofIndependence byThomas Jefferson,JohninsteadcreditedSamuelfor layingthegroundwork: Withouthim,inmyopinion,Americanindependencecouldnothavebeendeclaredin1776.
Samuel
Adamshas
rightly
come
to
 e
known
 s
the
 Father
of
the
AmericanRevolution
 
forhis
ability
to
organize
thecause
of
independence
John
Adams
credited
himfor
laying
the
groundwork
for
liberty:
 Without
him
inmy
op
inion
 
America
n
independence
could
not
havebeen
declared
in
1776
.
34
T N W
 MERI N
JULY
 
9
 
 
ni
z tion l
 iz r
d
Morethananyothermanin
Amer
ica,SamuelAdamswasuptothetask
of
organizingoppositiontoParliament sunjust andillegalact.JohnAdamsdescribed Samuelas aplain,simple,decentcitizen, chusettsGeneralCourt(legislature)tore pealthetaxwastamewhencomparedwith laterdemonstrations. Thatsameyear,GrenvilleproposedthatadifferenttaxbelaidinParliament. Grenville splanwasforaStampActthat wouldtaxlegaldo
cum
ents,newspapers,andcommercialpapers.Thenews
of
thenew,first-time-everdirecttaxonthe coloniesscheduledtotakeforcein1765 ranupanddowntheAtlanticcoastlike wildfire.Nine
of
the13coloniessentdel egatestoaconventioncalledbyMassa chusettsonOctober1765inNewYorkand issueda Declaration
of
Rights toannouncethatParliamenthadnorightto taxAmericans: [I]tisinseparablyessen tialtothefreedom
of
apeople,andtheun doubtedright
of
Englishmen,thatnotaxes beimposedonthembutwiththeirown consent,givenpersonally,orbytheir representa
tives
Boycotts
of
BritishgoodswereannouncedinPhiladelphia,NewYork,and Boston,enforcedbyclubs
of
anti-taxactivistsformedunderthegeneralname  Sons
of
Liberty.
The
namehadbeen takenfromthespeech
of
IsaacBarre,a
payoff
thewardebt.Beforelong,British politicianswerefindingwaystoplacate Britishtaxpayerswhocomplainedabout havingtopaytaxesfordebtbelievedtobe acquiredsolelytoprotecttheuntaxed colonies.Steppinguptomakethecolonistspay taxestofundtheBritisharmywasGeorge Grenville,ChancelloroftheExchequer, withhisSugarAct.The1764act
of
Parliamentwastechnicallyacutinalong standingbutunenforcedtaxonmolasses, butthecolonieseruptedwiththeprospect thattheywouldactuallyhavetopaytaxes withouttheirconsentforthefirsttime. Adamsexclaimed
of
theSugarAct:
If
ourtrademaybetaxed,whynotourlands andeverythingwepossessormakeuse of?Thisweapprehendannihilates
our
charterrighttogovernandtaxourselves.
 
strikesatourBritishprivileges,which
 
weholdincommonwithourfellowsub jectswhoarenativesofGreatBritain. The royalgovernor,FrancisBernard,claimed thattheSugarActproduced agreater alarminthiscountrythanthetaking
of
FortWilliamHenry[bytheFrench]didin 1757. InrealitythepetitionbyMassa- friend
of
thecoloniesinParliament.Many Sons
of
Libertyorganizationswereformed out
of
acore
of
pre-existingorganizations.Amechanics organizationformedthenu cleusofthe Sons inBaltimore,andthe  Sons wereorganizedfromfireorganiza tionsinCharlestonandPhiladelphia.The SonsofLibertyinBostonwereformedout
of
anoddcollection
of
dockworkers,Cau cusClubmembers,andevenneighbor hoodtoughs.Asaresult,Bostonbecame thehotbed
of
unlawfulresistancetothe StampAct.CustomsCommissionerswere threatened,intimidated,roughedupand otherwisepersuadedtoresigntheircom mission.ToryLieutenantGovemorThomas Hutchins
on
shousewasransackedbya drunkenmob,whichrobbedit
of
anyvalu ablesthatcouldbecarried
off
anddestroyedhisfurniture. Thoughitisunclearhowmuch
of
theviolenceAdamswinkedat,hegenuinely
 
condemnedthenakedrobbery
of
hisrival
~
Hutchinson.Violenceandintimidationby
~
 ~
Th
 
e
 
~
s
~
t~o
 
M
a
 
s
 
~~
c
 
r
 
e
 a
s
 t
 h
 e
 
in c
 
id
 e
 n t
 ~
 c
 a
 m
 e
 k
 n
 ~
n
0
 c
 c
 u
 
ed
o
 n
 M
 a
 m
 h
~5~
 
1
 7
 7 O ~
w
~h
~
e
~n
~
a
lls
c=u
=ff~~
 
~ri
~didooili
 
ro
~ti
s
~ili
eootr
 
withsomeboysthro
wing
sno
wballs
ata
Briti
shsentry
attracted
a
rioto
us
mob
of
colon
istswhowerevotersinMassachusetts.Theyear1766 f
ired
onbyagroupof
redcoats
.
Five
colonists
were
ki
lled
,whichonly
fann
edthef
lames
ofreb
ell
ion
sawthePatriot sWhigpartytakecontrol oftheMassachusettsHouse,towhichSam Adamswaselected.AdamsandOtiswere electedSpeakerandClerk
of
theGeneral Court(HouseofRepresentatives),respec tively.Adamsalsotookeffectivecontrolof theBostonTownMeetingaswell,nomi nallyasOtis lieutenant.AsAdams biog rapherJohn
C.
Millerreveals,itwasnot longbeforeSamwasrulingtheroostand  attheCaucusClub,moderators,select men,assessors,taxcollectors,wardens, firewards,andrepresentativeswerepicked byAdamsandhisfriendsseveralweeks beforetheelections. ParliamentrepealedtheStampActin March1766,butitwasnotlongbeforethe Britishweretryingtofindanotherwayto have
Amer
icanshelppayfortheBritish militaryestablishment.In1767,Charles TownshendwonParliament sapprovalto taximportation
of
paper,paint,teaand leadintothecolonies.TheTownshendAct setoffanewwave
of
nationwideprotest.
THENEWAMERICAN
JULY
2 2
35

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