Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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ADAMS, Samuel, one of the founders of American independence. He was born in Boston, on the 27th of Sept., 1722. He studied theology, but not finding the pulpit congenial, engaged in business in a small way. England's commercial policy towards the colonies led him into the opposition. He vigorously opposed the stamp duties, and was one of the first to advocate separation of the colonies from the mother country. He became a member of the Massachusetts colonial legislature in 1765, and was the first to suggest the establishment of the corresponding societies, with their rendezvous in Boston, which did much to promote the cause of the revolution. As early as 1770, in a speech on the rights of the colonies, he declared that the colonies were free, and would be free; just as in 1740, on the occasion of his taking his degree of A. M., he defended the thesis that "when the commonwealth can not otherwise be preserved, it is lawful to resist the supreme magistrate." A delegate to congress from 1774 to 1782 for Massachusetts, he did all in his power to give effect to the declaration of independence. He was always on the best of terms with Franklin, Jefferson and others of the revolutionary chieftains, but not with Washington, whose endeavors to strengthen the federal government he erroneously considered dangerous to the liberties of the people. He was an influential member of the Massachusetts convention of 1788, which favored the adoption of the federal constitution, with some modifications, and he contributed more than any other one man to its final adoption by the eastern states. He was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1789, and governor in 1794. He resigned the latter office in 1797, partly on account of old age. He died in Boston, Oct. 2, 1802, at the age of 81.


—Samuel Adams was a man of great independence of character, fiery and resolute. He was a democrat by nature and an agitator of the first class. He was a particularist in American politics, and opposed to the federal party. Samuel Adams' judgment may not have been always correct, but he will always retain a place in the hearts of his countrymen as an example of unselfishness, inflexibility and political virtue, as in his lifetime he was styled the American Cato.


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