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Samuel Adams

Updated on August 18, 2014

Patriot Samuel Adams

When many people hear the name Sam Adams they think beer. While it is true that Samuel Adams (1722-1803) was (for a short time) a brewer, he was much more importantly a politician, a leader in the fight for American Independence, and one of the Founding Fathers of The United States of America.

Public domain photo courtesy Wikipedia

Early Years

Adams was born on Sunday, September 27, 1722, and was raised in a strict Puritian household. An excellent student, Adams entered Harvard College at age of fourteen and earned a Master of Arts degree in 1743. After graduation, Samuel would attept a career in the business arena. With stints in a mercantile counting house, and in his father's brewery, it soon became clear to the young Adams that a career in the business world was not for him.

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Samuel Adams Quote

"If ever the Time should come, when vain & aspiring Men shall possess the highest Seats in Government, our Country will stand in Need of its experienced Patriots to prevent its Ruin." -Samuel Adams 1780

Political Life

Adams became a political writer in Boston in 1748. This let Sam express his general disapproval of Parliament and his belief that it had overstepped its authority by restricting the rights of American colonists. In 1756, Samuel was elected tax collector, a position he held for eight years. Having financial woes of his own, Adams had sincere empathy for the common man, which made him a popular political figure in the Boston area.

Adams was prominent in organizing protests over the Sugar Act in 1764 and the Stamp Act in 1765, the same year Adams was elected to the Massachusetts General Court. The majority in the lower house elected him clerk in 1766, and he served in this position for the next eight years. Adams played a sizable role in the events that led up to the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, which was a uprising against a British tea tax law.

Adams was selected as one of the colony's delegates to both the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774, and the Second Continental In the Congress in 1775, Adams was one of the loudest voices for independence in the meetings, and was proudly one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Vote for your Favorite Samuel Adams Book

Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution
Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution

Winner of the 2007 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award! Samuel Adams is perhaps the most unheralded and overshadowed of the founding fathers, yet without him there would have been no American Revolution. A genius at devising civil protests and political maneuvers that became a trademark of American politics, Adams astutely forced Britain into coercive military measures that ultimately led to the irreversible split in the empire. His remarkable political career addresses all the major issues concer...

Samuel Adams: The Father of American Independence
Samuel Adams: The Father of American Independence

A slight figure clad in a threadbare coat, Samuel Adams was an unlikely portrait of a dangerous revolutionary. The man who would later be called the Father of the American Revolution, however, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to achieve the goal of American independence, uniting his genius for words and his passion for politics to urge countless numbers toward revolution. In this insightful biography, Dennis Brindell Fradin traces Adams's life from boyhood to his two terms as one of Massachus...

Samuel Adams: Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution (Oxford Portraits)
Samuel Adams: Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution (Oxford Portraits)

The story of one of the most important -- and most elusive -- figures of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams traces the life of the "Man of the Revolution," as he was called by Thomas Jefferson, from his childhood as a fifth-generation New Englander to his pivotal role in the Boston Tea Party and war that followed to a life spent in public service. Benjamin Irvin explores the fascinating contradictions of Samuel Adams's life: he was born into a family of high rank, but lived a humble, almost i...


Later Years

Adams remained a member of the Continental Congress until it disbanded in 1781, but he was frequently disagreed with his political colleagues on matters of national policy. Because his strenuous opposition to a strong national government hindered the unifing of the nation for a speedy victory over Great Britain, his popularity and effectiveness as a leader declined. In 1779, Adams was a member of the committee that drafted the Massachusetts State constitution, and he was instrumental in securing the ratification by Massachusetts of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. He was lieutenant governor of Massachusetts from 1789 to 1793 and governor from 1794 to 1797, afterwards retiring to his home in Boston. Samuel Adams died at the age of 81 on October 2, 1803 and was interred at the Granary Burying Ground in Boston.

Another Adams Quote

"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can."-Samuel Adams

Photos courtesy U. S. Government public domain

Thoughts on Adams? - You can leave your comments here

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      7 years ago

      Samuel Adams is an often forgotten Founding Father. A study of his writings or even of his famous quotes has much to teach us in these turbulent times.

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      10 years ago

      Congratulations are in order, since this lens was listed on the top of the Historical Figures Group. Please feel free to come by and see who else is on top of this list with this great President at


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