Samuel Adams - Professional Rebel
Sam Adams is known today more for being a brewery than a Founding Father. He was, however, one of the important early rebels who ignited the flame of liberty in the United States.
Sam Adams came from moderate wealth. He attended Harvard but afterward had trouble succeeding in any form of business. The one place he found success…politics.
Adams could speak and write with passion. He was in the right place at the right time when Britain began enforcing aggressive laws in Boston.
Already in his late 40’s when British troop began military rule in Massachusetts, Adams had established himself as a trusted local leader.
This is when he took a young John Hancock under his wing. Hancock’s wealth and popularity made him an important figure in the rebellion.
Becoming a Rebel
Samuel Adams wrote the ‘Circular Letter,’ which was the first public outline of Boston’s complaints. This letter made it’s way to the other colonies. Distant colonists, who were not suffering as severely as Massachusetts, began to realize what was actually happening.
After the Boston Massacre, Adams made sure the British soldiers were given a trial. This was done to prove the people of America were not backward country folk but civilized British citizens who deserved rights. He managed to convince his cousin, John Adams, to defend the soldiers on trial.
Later, Samuel Adams was allegedly one of the organizers of the Boston Tea Party. His role was kept secret to the point that it is difficult to determine his involvement today.
First Continental Congress
Sam Adams went to the First Continental Congress to represent Massachusetts.
He was famously a modest man and as such did not have cloths his constituents believed to be suitable for such an important office. They took up a collection to buy him a new suit, so he could be respected among the wealthy delegates from other states.
At the Convention, Adams was still publicly for reconciliation with Britain. However, at this early stage, Adams was by far the Founder who used the most revolutionary language.
Lexington and Concord
Just a few months later, Samuel Adams was staying with Hancock in Lexington, Massachusetts. They found it too dangerous to return to Boston while they were waiting to journey to the Second Continental Congress.
This is when Paul Revere took his famous midnight ride. This ride was to warn the people in towns outside Boston that ‘the British are coming.’ The two people who needed warning the most: Adams and Hancock.
At the Second Continental Congress, Adams began speaking in more revolutionary terms.
Sam Adams became one of the driving forces behind declaring independence. Considered by many of the delegates to be the ‘Father of the American Revolution.’
Adams stayed in Philadelphia long enough to be a member of the committee which drafted the Articles of Confederation. It should be noted that there were 13 members of this committee, one for each state, and the primary author was John Dickenson.
After the War
Samuel Adams returned to Boston after the war where he spent most of the 1780’s as President of the Massachusetts Senate.
When the U.S. Constitution was sent to the states, Adams was elected to the Ratifying Convention. Suspicious of a federal government, he was initially against the Constitution. However, after listening carefully to the arguments presented, he announced his support of the document. It is likely his support helped sway the extremely close vote in Massachusetts.
Adams would go on to serve as Lieutenant Governor and then Governor of Massachusetts. This is surprising as he was a Democratic-Republican in a solidly Federalist State.
After his term as Governor and already in his late 70’s, Samuel Adams retired from public life after one term in the office.
The revolution was complete and his party’s leader, Thomas Jefferson, was president.
There was nothing left to for him to rebel against.
If you're interested in reading more about Samuel Adams, I highly recommend one of these two books: