Revolutionary Activity

Committed to these fundamental principles, the politically connected Adams was prepared to play a key role in American resistance to changes in British policies. As clerk of the Boston town meeting and as clerk of the House of Representatives, after his selection to that body in 1765, Adams was able to agitate against British policies on both the local and provincial levels. He drafted petitions, resolutions, and letters condemning all the revenue acts as unconstitutional violations of the liberties of English colonists. Drawing upon John Locke’s theories, he argued that the imperial government could not take the colonists’ property in the form of taxes without their consent, and since the colonists were not represented in Parliament, they could never consent. Adams mobilized popular opposition against the legislation in dozens of newspaper articles, in town meeting debates, in his frequent visits to clubs and taverns, and in casual conversations in the streets and along the town docks. He called upon his fellow citizens to boycott English imports, and he supported the public demonstrations organized to intimidate stamp distributor Andrew Oliver into resigning his post. Yet when a mob destroyed Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson’s home, Adams condemned the action. He was always reluctant to sanction violence in seeking redress of grievances, although in this case it contributed to the repeal of the Stamp Act. In 1768, Adams learned of the English dispatch of two regiments to Boston, which had become the focal point of the opposition to imperial politics. Eighteenth-century political opposition writers in England had persuaded Adams that a standing army was the most ominous threat to liberty. In newspaper articles he condemned the decision as unmistakable evidence of the arbitrary power wielded by imperial officials, and his worst fears were realized when British soldiers fired into a threatening crowd, killing five, on March 5, 1770. Adams headed a delegation that persuaded the governor to remove the troops from Boston, and then spent weeks spreading the word in the colonies and overseas of the massacre. Yet Adams supported a fair trial for the soldiers, to demonstrate the virtue of Bostonians. In his almost constant agitation, Adams worked to broaden opposition to British policies. In 1768, as House clerk, he drafted a letter to the other colonial legislatures, seeking their support in opposing the Townshend duties. In 1772, he helped create a committee of correspondence to unite the towns of the province in defying the British, and the following year he contributed to the development of a network of intercolonial committees of correspondence. In 1773, Adams came into possession of what he considered proof of a conspiracy involving imperial officials and their royal governors to destroy liberty in the colonies. Benjamin Franklin sent Adams letters written by Massachusetts governor Thomas Hutchinson that recommended limitations on colonists’ liberties. After securing publication of the letters and calling upon the king to recall Hutchinson, Adams turned his attention to the Tea Act. This legislation represented yet another attempt by Parliament to raise revenue in the colonies. By allowing the East India Company to ship tea directly to the colonies, the company would not have to pay the import tax normally levied in England and could sell its tea through the merchants, or consignees, it selected rather than through public auctions. As a result, the cost of tea to colonial consumers would be much lower. Adams and other revolutionaries saw the Tea Act as a ploy to get colonists to accept Parliament’s taxing power through their purchase of cheap tea. Intimidated by mass meetings, tea consignees in Philadelphia, New York, and Charles Town all resigned. On December 16 in Boston, Governor Hutchinson refused to grant the captains of tea ships a clearance to return to London with their tea cargoes. When he received the news, Adams announced to a packed town meeting that nothing more could be done to save the country. His statement was apparently a signal for action, because that night several dozen men dressed as Native Americans boarded the tea ships and tossed their cargoes overboard. The English response to what became known as the Boston Tea Party triggered a chain of events that ultimately led to revolution. Parliament passed a series of acts (which the colonists called Intolerable Acts) that, among other things, closed the port of Boston and limited town meetings to one session per year. To Adams, these punitive measures directed at Massachusetts were a warning to all colonists of the vulnerability of liberty, and he joined delegates from twelve colonies in September 1774 at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia to unite in opposition. Adams not only supported a complete boycott of English trade but also helped draft the Declaration of Rights. After the Continental Congress adjourned, Adams returned to Massachusetts, where he won election in February 1775 to an extralegal provincial congress that met first in Cambridge and then in Concord. On the morning of April 19, Adams was staying at nearby Lexington with John Hancock, when Paul Revere gave them sufficient warning to escape from approaching British troops, who had come to capture them and seize military supplies in Concord. The following month, Adams was back in Philadelphia to attend the Second Continental Congress, where he served for six years. He also helped write the Massachusetts state constitution, one based firmly on the principle that all power came from the people. Throughout the revolutionary struggle, Adams remained persuaded that power always threatened liberty, and that concentrated power in a distant government should be avoided. Consequently, as a delegate to the Massachusetts ratifying convention, he endorsed the 1787 Constitution only after obtaining assurances that it would be amended to protect basic liberties. The ultimate safeguard for liberty, however, was his faith that the people, though they might often stray from the virtuous life, shared an essential commitment to a republican form of government. Adams held a number of political posts after the American Revolution. Besides serving as a delegate to the Massachusetts ratification convention, he served as a state senator, lieutenant governor, and governor. He retired in 1797 and died in Boston on October 2, 1803. Larry Gragg See also: Boston Tea Party; Revolutionary War; Townshend Acts (1767); Document: Townshend Revenue Act (1767). Bibliography Alexander, John K. Samuel Adams: America’s Revolutionary Politician. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. Brown, Richard D. Revolutionary Politics in Massachusetts: The Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Towns, 1772 1774. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970. Canfield, Cass. Samuel Adams’s Revolution, 1775 1776. New York: Harper and Row, 1976. Fowler, William M. Samuel Adams: Radical Puritan. New York: Longman, 1997. Maier, Pauline. From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765 1776. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972. Maier, Pauline. The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980. Puls, Mark. Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Stoll, Ira. Samuel Adams: A Life. New York: Free Press, 2008. Macedonian Revolutionary activity 1821-1822 HD – YouTube Early revolutionary activity of Mao Zedong People and Persons Nelson Mandela – Revolutionary Activity: 1943-1962

Leave a Reply

60 + = 63