ADAMS, SAMUEL (1722-1803). One of the leading men in the promotion of the American Revolution. lle was born in Boston, Mass., Sep tember 27, 1722, of an aristocratic family, and, like John Adams, the second President of the United States, was descended from I lenry Adams, a Puritan emigrant. He fitted for col lege at the Boston Latin School, and entered Harvard in 1736. On college in 1740, he entered a law office; but the law proving dis tasteful, he next entered a counting-house, and soon became a merchant himself, but failed. Subsequently he became a partner with his father in a brewery, and failed after the latter's death. As a business man, he seems throughout to have been a complete failure; and the burden thus thrown on the other members of the family was increased later by the complete absorption with which he devoted his time and energy exclu sively to political affairs and public service. When a candidate for the degree of A.M. at Harvard College, he had maintained in his thesis the affirmative of the question: Whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved.
lle was early engaged in the activities of town politics in Boston; and the overthrow of the Land Bank, with the incidental destruction of his father's estate, brought him into contact with provincial affairs and decisively influenced his general attitude toward the home government. Ilis formal entry into politics was in his election as a tax collector of Boston in 1763, an office which he held for two years. his careless, or at all events unsuccessful, performance of the duties of that office soon afforded his opponents the basis for a vigorous though ineffectual attack, but both his personal integrity and political uprightness remained above suspicion. By him were drafted the important instructions given by the town of Boston to its representatives in the assembly in 1764, and in these was put forth one of the earliest protests against the minis terial plan of colonial taxation.
Likewise in 1765 Adams drafted the Boston instructions to representatives, and in the same year he himself was sent to the Legislature. Being elected clerk of the House in 1766, and also serving on many committees, it was natural that he should lie the author of many of the most important State documents of the pre-revolu tionary period. instructions to the political agent in London, addresses to the governor, appeals to the ministry, and proposals or exhor tations addressed to fellow colonists, in great number issued from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and in many instances came from the pen of Adams. Thus the very influen tial circular letter of February, 1768, as well as the True Sentiments of America, issued in the stune year, and the widely read Appeal to the ll'orld of 1769, have been traced to the authorship of Adams. Later, in 1772, lie pre
pared for the town of Boston the very telling pamphlet oif The Rights of the Colonists as Men, as Christians, and as Subjects. Very important as were all these contributions to the movement toward revolution. the most effective literary work of Adams was, undoubtedly, the great num ber of newspaper articles, under various pseudo nyms, in the patriotic Boston Gazette. In these he made plain the cause of the colonists, exposed the impractieability of any reconciliation, con verted the hesitating and inspired the Radicals, and exerted a very far-reaching influence in preparing the popular mind for revolution and in hastening the approach of the crisis. In practical politics as well, he was recognized as a leader IV, only in Massachusetts but in the other colonies. Ile bore the burden of the long series of controversies with the governors of Massachusetts over the presence of troops, the salaries of judges, and the place of meeting of the legislature; and at the time of tine Boston Massacre of March, 1770, headed the committee which demanded from Hutchinson the immediate withdrawal of the troops. lie was conspicuous in planning the local "committees of correspon dence ;" and when finally. in June, 1774, the Massachusetts legislature bade defiance to Gage and issued the call for the Continental Congress, it was Adams who directed the movement.
lle was naturally sent to the Continental Con gress, and when that body finally declared for independence, it may be said that the real life work of Adams had been completed. He had been the ideal representative of the town-meeting sys tem, the extreme defender of the "natural" rights of man, and the irrepressible advocate of hide pendence. His work during the Revolution was less noteworthy, and was at times open to crit icism. Thus, he was one of the strongest sup porters of the committee system of national administration, and one of those who delayed unnecessarily and unfortunately the organiza tion of executive departments under single heads. In the politics of his native State he always took an active and effective interest. He was one of the committee which prepared the present con stitution of the State, the only constitution of the revolutionary period still in force. He served on the executive council of the State, was for several years lieutenant-governor, and three times was elected governor. He was considered an opponent of the federal constitution in 1788, but on his finally giving his voice in favor of adoption, with the proposal of amendments, its ratification was assured. Ile died in Boston, Oc tober 2, 1803. For his biography consult: W. V. Wells (3 volumes, Boston, 1865) ; J. K. Hosmer (Boston, 1885).