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ADAMS, SAMUEL, one of the most distinguished patriots of the American revolution, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 22d of September, 1722 His ancestors were among the first settlers in New England. His parents were highly respectable. His father was, for many years, a representative for the town of Boston, in the Massachusetts house of Assembly, in which he was annually elected till his death.
Samuel Adams received the rudiments of a liberal education at the grammar school under the care of Mr. Lovell, where he was remarkably attentive to his studies. His conduct was similar while he was at college, and during the whole term he had to pay but one fine, and this was for not attending morning prayers, in consequence of having overslept himself. By a close and steady application, he made considerable proficiency in classical learning, logic, and natural philosophy; but as he was designed for the ministry, a profession to which he seems to have been much inclined, his studies were particularly directed to systematic divinity. Why Mr. Adams did not assume the clerical character, so congenial to his views and habits, does not appear. and 1743, the respective degrees of bachelor and master of arts were conferred upon him. On the latter occa sion, he proposed the following question for discussion,
whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate, if the commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved?" He maintained the affirmative of this proposition, and thus evinced, at this period of his life, his attachment to the liberties of the people. While he was a student
his father allowed him a regular stipend. Of this, he saved a sufficient sum, to publish, at his own expense, a pamphlet, called “Englishmen's Rights.'
He was put an apprentice to the late Thomas Cushing, an eminent merchant. For this profession he was ill adapted, and it received but a small share of his atten. tion. The study of politics was his chief delight. At this time he formed a' club, each member of which agreed to furnish a political essay for a newspaper called the Independent Advertiser. These essays brought the writers into notice, who were called, in derision, " the Whipping Post Club."
His limited knowledge of commerce rendered him incompetent to support himself by that pursuit. His father, however, gave him a considerable capital, with which he commenced business. He had not been long in trade when he credited one of his countrymen with a sum of money.
This person, soon after, met with heavy calamities, which he represented to Mr. Adams, who never demanded the amount, although it was nearly half the value of his original stock. This, and other losses, soon consumed all he had.
At the age of twenty-five, his father died, and as he was the eldest son, the care of the family and management of the estate, devolved upon him.
Early distinguished by talents, as a writer, his first attempts were proofs of his filial piety. By his efforts he preserved the estate of his father, which had been attached on account of an engagement in the land bank bubble.' He became a political writer during the administration of Shirley, to which he was opposed, as he thought the union of so much civil and military power, in one man, was dangerous. His ingenuity, wit, and profound argument, are spoken of with the highest respect by those who were contemporary with him. At this early period he laid the foundation of public confidence and esteem.
It may be proper to mention that his first office in the town was that of tax-gatherer, which the opposite party in politics often alluded to, and in their controversies would style him Samuel the Publican. While the Bri. aish regiments were in town, the tories enjoyed a kind of triumph, and invented every mode of burlesquing the popular leaders: but, where the people tax themselves, the office of collector is respectable; it was, at that time, given to gentlemen who had seen better days, and needed some pecuniary assistance, having merited the esteem and confidence of their fellow townsmen. Mr. Adams was ill qualified to fill an office which required such constant attention to pecuniary matters; and, his soul being bent on politics, he passed more time in talking against Great Britain than in collecting the sums due to the town. He grew embarrassed in his circumstances, and was assisted, not only by private friends, but by many others who knew hiin only as a spirited partisan in the cause of liberty.
From this time, the whigs were determined to support him to the utmost of their power. He had been always on their side, was firm and sagacious, one of the best writers in the newspapers, ready upon every question, but especially conversant with all matters which related to the dispute between Great Britain and the colonies.
We have said that there was a private political club in Boston, where decisive measures originated, which gave a secret spring and impulse to the motions of the public body, and that Mr. Adams was one of the patriotic conclave. This confederacy came to a determination to resist every infringement of their rights. The stamp act was a flagrant violation of them, and to suffer it quietly to be carried into effect, would establish a precedent, and encourage further proceedings of a similar nature.
Mr. Adams was one of hose who opposed it in every step. He was not averse to the manner in which the people evinced their determinate opposition, by destroying the stamp papers and office in Boston; but he highly disapproved of the riots and disorders which followed, and personally aided the civil power to put a stop to them.
The taxes upon tea, oil, and colours, were still more odious to the Americans than the stamp act ; especially to the inhabitants of Boston, where the board of commissioners was established. The people looked to Mr Adams as one of the champions of liberty, who must stand forth against every claim of Great Britain, and deny the right of the parent state to lay a tax; nor were they disappointed. He was so strenuous in his exertions to make the people sensible of their charter privi. leges, that he obtained the appellation of the patriot Samuel Adams.
In 1765, he was elected a member of the general agsembly of Massachusetts. He was soon chosen clerk, and he gradually acquired influence in the legislature. This was an eventful time. But Mr. Adams possessed a.courage which no dangers could shake.
He was undismayed by the prospect, which struck terror into the hearts of many.
He was a member of the legislature near ten years, and he was the soul which animated it to the most important resolutions. No man did so much. He pressed his measures with ardour; yet he was prudent; he knew how to bend the passions of others to his purpose.
The congress which assembled at New York, at this period, was attributed to a suggestion made by Mr. Adams. It has been said, with confidence, that he was the first man who proposed it in Massachusetts.
In consequence of the act imposing duties, in 1767, Mr. Adams suggested a non-importation agreement with the merchants. This was agreed to, and signed by nearly all of them in the province. They bound them. selves, if the duties were not repealed, not to import, or to order any, but certain enumerated acticles, after the first of January, 1769.
On the evening of the 5th of March, 1770, an affray took place between the military quartered in Boston, and some citizens, which resulted in a loss of lives on both sides. On the following morning, a public meeting was called, and Samuel Adams addressed the assembly, with that impressive eloquence which was so peculiar to himself. The people, on this occasion, chose à committee to wait upon the lieutenant governor, to require that the troops be immediately withdrawn from the town. The mission, however, proved unsuccessful and another resolution was immediately adopted, that a new committee be chosen to wait a second time upon governor Hutchinson, for the purpose of conveying the sense of the meeting in a more peremptory manner.