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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE MAN OF THE TOWN MEETING
Samuel Adams stands alone among the great Revolutionary Fathers. He was the man of one town—Boston. He sat in the legislature of that town, because all sat there. He at first took little note of other towns, because, sooner or later, he knew they would follow the doings of his town. Of other colonies and peoples, other settlements and regions, he only felt that they were better satisfied with England than he was. War was inevitable, because English tyrants like Hills-borough and King George would persist in ordering Dr. Franklin out of their ante-rooms. Otherwise Samuel Adams would have been hanged as a traitor or rebel, and that would have been the end of him. But with insensate tyrants over the sea, and an inflexible agitator like Samuel Adams on this side, it was finally necessary that a quiet and orderly gentleman like General Washington should come up to Boston, and a benignant Quaker like Dr. Franklin should go to Paris, where-upon, after many inglorious and yet glorious years, the independence of the United States was achieved. But, once the die was cast, Samuel Adams was a valuable addition to the stock of national spirit that General Washington found on hand to fight with. The arch-agitator himself probably lived to see that he had brought on the separation a few years too soon for the masses. A little more Continental knowledge would have made him a great statesman, and he would have had more than one colony ready for war ere he engaged in it. Whatever be the reason, Samuel Adams does not hold the rank, in the hearts of the people outside of New England, that his activity in precipitating the Revolution would warrant. He was the American Cromwell, but he did not fight—General Washington, who had made no complaints, did the fighting. Samuel Adams had that sublime quality of Thomas à Kempis, of "Junius"—he dealt with himself alone. He cared nothing for his standing before posterity. He was born with a desire for freedom for himself, and probably deter-mined that such a condition compelled the freedom of his fellows. He put up James Otis, John Hancock, John Adams, Joseph Warren, before him, that they might gather glory, but he had no hope that either Bernard or Hutchinson, the satraps of the King whose lot he made unhappy, would be so blind as to fail to see that the trouble all began in his own seditious nature. He despised money and social grandeur. It was he, and not Napoleon, who first declared that the English were "a nation of shopkeepers." In the strike of the Revolution he was walking delegate for one trade out of the thirteen engaged; there would have been no general lock-out if he could have been bought off. One other thing : The indifference of posterity outside of Boston concerning the inequities practiced on the memory of Samuel Adams has its precedent in Revolutionary times, for he never rose to high place at Philadelphia, and became Governor of Massachusetts only when the elected Governor died and the Lieutenant-Governor (Samuel Adams) took the vacant place ex-officio.
Yet, with all this said and done, Samuel Adams was withal the exemplar of Thomas Jefferson, and was, on that score alone, one of the grandest men who have ever lived. We cannot afford, in the essential matters, to be ignorant of his noble career.
He was born at Boston, September 27, 1722, and was sixteen years the junior of Benjamin Franklin. He went to Harvard College, near by, for the purpose of becoming a Congregational preacher. Although he did not finish his course at Harvard, he received the degree of Master of Arts in 1740, and the title of his thesis on that occasion betrayed the bent of his life—"Whether it be lawful to resist the Supreme Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved." Governor Shirley sat near by in state while the youth read his essay. Thirty years afterward the old man asked who this Sam Adams was who was giving Bernard (the Governor) so much uneasiness. The young man served as clerk in a store a while, and then secured $5,000 from his father with which to start in business for himself. He lent half of this to a friend, who never repaid it; the rest he lost. Then he went into a malt-house as a partner with his father. He organized the caulkers into a political association and the "caucus" resulted. He wrote constantly for the newspapers, and indorsed his father's activity in town affairs. When Samuel was twenty-six years old his father died, leaving him the malt-house. The father's estate might have been large had not a banking speculation failed because of English restrictions on American enterprise. This episode made bad feeling between the Adamses and Hutchinson, the King's officer in the colony. He married Elizabeth Checkly, daughter of the minister of the "New South Church," and went to housekeeping. Here the creditors of his father came upon him, and he was compelled to resist the sheriff's levy until he could get relief by legislation. This further embittered him against Hutchinson. Still, it turned out, all the way through, that the men whom Samuel Adams opposed were deter-mined enemies of American independence, while the men, like Governor Pownall, whom he admired, were generous friends of the colonists.
Space will not permit a sufficient description of the governmental machinery of the province of Massachusetts Bay. The town meeting of Boston was composed of freemen, and those who attended the meetings could legislate for those who were absent. For fifty years the records of the Boston town meetings were carefully written by one clerk, William Cooper, preserving a history of the almost constant presence of Samuel Adams. The town meetings sent representatives to the provincial Assembly, which also met at Boston. It was this latter body that came in collision with the somewhat collateral and sometimes sovereign power of the King and his Parliament at London.
In the early years of his activity the English were fighting the French to the northeast. Samuel Adams was in nearly all of the petty municipal positions, looking after chimneys, streets, bridges, dedications, etc. At thirty-six he was elected one of the tax collectors and was annually reelected until 1764—eight times. He came out nearly $50,000 short. Hutchinson considered it a "defalcation." It was a failure to collect by harsh means. It was a practical application of the ultra-democratic notion that the state ought to impoverish nobody, however just its case in equity.
At London there had come into office two keen-scented money-raisers, who felt that America could be made to pay a good deal on the expenses of the Seven Years' War. It is true England had fought first against and then for Frederick, in his theft of Silesia, but the money was to be paid, nevertheless. How could they get it out of those Americans? That was the question. Not at all !—this was Samuel Adams' answer. This expression horrified the newly-appointed Governor, Bernard, who hurled many loyal invectives against the seditious Bostonian. Grenville, carrying out the previous ideas of Townshend at London, began a sharp collection of customs at the smuggling town of of Boston. The local courts were asked for "writs of assistance" to enable the tax collectors of the King to enter the houses of suspected smugglers. In the hearing of these cases, James Otis, resigning a place under the Crown, became a popular idol by eloquently denouncing the desires of the collectors. Grenville then projected the Stamp Act, briefly described on a previous page.* It was here that Samuel Adams aroused an effective opposition in the town meeting. He was forty-two years old, his hair was turning gray, and his hand and voice had trembled from boyhood. His wife had died. His business had failed. His accounts with the town were unsettled. He had small visible means of support. He was not, apparently, a formidable enemy of the King, for the people of Boston had as high a natural regard for wealth in those days as is to be noted there at the present time.
In May, 1764, the town meeting of Boston considered Grenville's Stamp Bill. Samuel Adams was on the committee to instruct Boston's representatives to the provincial body, and the town records still bear, in his handwriting, his avowal of almost the earliest seditious principles openly committed to writing: "If taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a legal representation, are we not reduced from the characters of free subjects to the miserable state of tributary slaves?"
In the Assembly the form of this protest was adopted by James Otis, and went forward to London. Bernard, although he deplored the coming taxation, adjourned the Assembly, abhorring its tone toward his sovereign. Hutchinson advised Grenville not to lay on the tax. It must be considered that the foreign interests of the colonies were already grievously sacrificed to the greed of London merchants. Both Bernard and Hutchinson thought the settlers were already paying enough tribute.
December 6, 1765, Adams married his second wife, a hard-working woman, in Elizabeth Wells. He had almost no means, but owned a house. A little later he was offered and refused a pension of $10,000 a year to come over to the King. News that the Stamp Act was a law, reached Boston in April, 1766. There was dis-graceful rioting at Boston, in which Hutchinson's house was unjustly mobbed and great injury visited on him. The biographers of Samuel Adams take care to disconnect him from these proceedings, but they were the logical outcome of his personal hatred of Hutchinson. Dr. Franklin had supposed the tax would be collected, and had secured the appointment of a friend for stamp-seller at Philadelphia. Oliver, who was to be stamp-seller at Boston, was hanged in effigy. The town meeting, next day, condemned these mischievous acts.
The town meeting of Boston was henceforth to stand to the Assembly as the Jacobin Club stood to the Revolutionary Assembly at Paris. Samuel Adams was its mouthpiece. At Braintree, another town, young John Adams, Samuel's second cousin, was spokesman—an orator and debater. The two Adamses early wrought in concert. The documents prepared by these seditionaries were copied in nearly all the other towns, and when the Assembly met in September, 1766, its members were all of Samuel Adams' mind. A vacancy occurring in "the Boston seat," Samuel Adams himself was elected to the Assembly, and carried his war personally into the west end of the old State House, while Bernard and Hutchinson held the King's cause in the east end. It is said that the form of no other one man has so often darkened the doors of the famous old State House at Boston as did that of Samuel Adams during the next thirty-five years. To afford him a small but certain living, he was made Clerk of the House, for which he received $500 a year, but this did not stop his debating or deprive him of his ballot. In fact, he was thus enabled to arrange the order of business to suit his views or convenience. The Governor barely saw him seated when he adjourned the House. It came together in October, when Samuel Adams wrote and secured the passage of the celebrated "Massachusetts Resolves"—that the Assembly would not help to collect the unjust stamp taxes. It it said that if Otis had been present Samuel Adams would have been defeated, for Otis had come over to Dr. Franklin's way of thinking—the law ought to be obeyed till it could be repealed. The Congress at New York, however, affected by the ardor of Boston, accepted the Massachusetts Resolves as a basis for petition to the King. On November 1, when the stamps must be affixed to the taxable articles and documents, the bells and minute-guns of Boston were tolled and fired. The citizens at once tabooed the stamps. Men who thought they must have a law suit, suddenly arbitrated. The courts were closed. Stamps remained unsold and goods lay in bond. Ships came and went without papers. The newspapers printed a death's-head where the stamp should be affixed. The Assembly rebuked Bernard for spending the people's money to keep additional troops at the castle. Governor Bernard went to the wrong counselor when he convoked his Assembly for advice how to collect the tax, open the courts, and set business going. One of the matters which Samuel Adams kept to the foreground was the clause in the Stamp Act which allowed Vice Admiralty courts to try criminal cases without a jury. He was now busy introducing outside delegates in the Assembly to the inner circles of the Caucus Club. John Adams, in his diary, thus describes the Boston Jacobins at this time : "This day learned that the Caucus Club meets at certain times in the garret of Tom Dawes, the adjutant of the Boston regiment. He has a large house, and he has a movable partition in his garret, which he takes down, and the whole club meets in one room. There they smoke tobacco till you cannot see from one end of the garret to the other. There they drink flip, I suppose, and there they choose a moderator, who puts questions to the vote regularly; and selectmen, assessors, collectors, wardens, fire-wards, and representatives are regularly chosen before they are chosen in the town." Later, of course, when the provincial delegates entered, the caucus debated wider topics, but always Massachusetts Bay. It was after-ward said, with clever satire of Samuel Adams, that "he would have the State of Massachusetts govern the Union; Boston govern the State, and Sam Adams govern Boston; on such a constitution, the Nation would not be intentionally ill-governed."
There had been so much gossip of "Sam the Publican," "Sam the Maltster," etc., that Samuel Adams looked about him for some aristocratic connections. He soon had the ear of a rich young merchant named John Hancock, whose signature on the Declaration of Independence was, ten years later, written "so plainly that the King could not miss it." May 16, 1766, news of the repeal of Grenville's abortive stamp law came, and John Hancock, in celebration, opened a pipe of Madeira wine to the mob. Governor Bernard walked in peace among his people, that well-lit night, whispering to himself that at last better days had come. But in June the executive again fell out with the House. He particularly desired to have Hutchinson in the Council (Senate) and the House would not nominate him. There were four other objectionable "prerogative (King's) men." The House very amiably desired "to release the judges (royal office-holders) from the cares and perplexities of politics, and give them an opportunity to make still further advances in the knowledge of the law"—as fine a piece of irony as Tiberius himself could have composed in the solitude of Capra, for Samuel Adams dreaded most of all the ability of Hutchinson, should he get to the Senate. By keeping a native or patriotic majority in the Senate, Massachusetts Bay could set up the very respectable theory that the General Court (both houses) and the King made up King, Lords, and Commons for Massachusetts Bay, leaving Parliament only to deal with imperial and local British affairs. This enabled Samuel Adams to pose as a loyal subject, while eventual rebellion was his object. More troops came to Boston. Lists were printed, for the instruction of the seditious, naming the articles which, if made at home, and the luxuries which, if abstained from, would harm the mother-country more than she was hurting the colonies. The hopeful Tories did not know how deeply this canker was eating, and announced to Townshend, at London, the "death of the faction" and "the discouragement of The incendiaries." At last a pension of $1,000 was settled on the Tory, Hutchinson, to put him out of reach of his foes. If the English tyrants had been more generous to this man, and earlier, it is possible he could have beaten down Samuel Adams, for he had nearly always managed James Otis.
The "Incendiaries," as the Tories called them, now sent to their agent at London, Deberdt, a petition of the Assembly, noting that the Puritans had fled from the Episcopacy, the barracks, the pension-list of the Old World. Now, if they were to be taxed for England's sake, why were they not again in the ancient slough of despond? This argument of Samuel Adams was un-answerable, if England admitted the right of his fore-fathers to flee. The document also went to all the colonies. Samuel Adams' daughter saw him "writing to the King." "To think, father, the royal hand will touch that very paper !" she exclaimed in childish awe. "More likely, the royal foot !" he said. The Circular Letter of 1768 was a long step toward a Continental Congress. In it ground was taken that flattered every colony. It was the Circular Letter that infuriated Hills-borough, a supercilious despot at London, and he ordered Bernard to order it rescinded at Boston. A naval vessel was sent to Boston, the Romney, which came down from Halifax impressing New England sailors, and when it entered Boston Harbor, the town was ready for another riot. Town meeting at Faneuil Hall overflowed to Old South Church, and the office-holders fled to safe places. No general disorder resulted.
In the Assembly the House, ninety-two to seventeen, refused to rescind the Circular Letter. More addresses were sent to Hillsborough, and Samuel Adams, despite Otis, gave copies to the local press. At this time he was busy in his Purchase street home. The mob loved to go by, calling attention to the light at his window late in the night. "It's Sam Adams, hard at work, writing against the Tories." "Ah, that Adams!" Governor Bernard used to cry, "every dip of his pen stings like a horned snake !" Already Hillsborough wanted him at London Tower as a traitor. An old Henry VIII statute had been found that would hold him for treason. Hutchinson, as Chief Justice, took affidavits that are yet on file at London, how Samuel Adams had said : "We will take up arms, and spend our last drop of blood," etc. With Adams in prison at London, town meetings were to be abolished and two regiments were to be billeted on Boston. Only the two regiments came of it—and by one of the strangest quirks in history, these took the name of "The Sam Adams Regiments."
In September, 1768, two more ships set sail for Bos-ton. At the town meeting 40o men were armed with muskets. The Governor would not convoke an Assembly which he knew would be seditious, and the "Bostoneers" convoked one of their own, but found it lukewarm. Samuel Adams could see that the people as a whole were as yet unripe for rebellion. Yet he exclaimed : "I will stand alone. I will oppose this tyranny at the threshold, though the fabric of liberty fall and I perish in its ruins." This was over six years before Patrick Henry made the speech that has not ceased to electrify mankind.
When Samuel Adams saw the two regiments of red-coats land and march into Faneuil Hall itself for barracks, his face was set hard against Bernard. He wrote at once to the Agent at London : "May God preserve the Nation from being greatly injured, if not finally ruined, by the vile ministrations of wicked men in America."
The soldiers only made matters worse. Soldiers were flogged in public on the Commons. The wife of one wretch, condemned to an unusual number. of lashes, actually appealed to Samuel Adams to use his influence with the commandant, and this intercession was effective, the commandant, doubtless, hoping to establish a good understanding with the "demagogues."
In fact, redcoats and all were English people, with high notions of private rights. The soldiers could only act on the requisition of an officer of the peace, hence the sardonic tale of the burglary in Boston. It is a legal inquiry, with a soldier on the witness stand :
Q.—Were you on guard at the time? Sentinel—Yes.
Q.—Did you see any persons break into Mr. Grey's house? A.—Yes.
Q.—Did you say anything to them? A.—No. Q.—Why not? A.—Because I had orders to challenge nobody.
Q.—Did you look upon them to be thieves? A.—Yes.
Q.—Why did you not sound the alarm and cause them to be secured? A.—Because I had orders to do nothing that might deprive any man of his liberty !
The authorities now attempted to get a circulation for the Tory newspapers, but the people would read little else than the Boston Gazette, in which "Vindex" and some twenty-five other pseudonyms, all from the pen of Samuel Adams; poured out arguments against the troops. Barré, in a speech in Parliament at London, had long before used the term "Sons of Liberty," and proclamations signed by members of this Order were daily fastened to Liberty Tree. Governor Bernard called the Assembly in May, 1769, and that body promptly informed him of its unwillingness to vote money for the troops in Boston; nor would it appropri-ate for his salary. The merchants of England, thoroughly terrified, secured the recall of the Governor, who was rewarded with a baronetcy and sailed away from Boston in July. The rebellious town thereat fired cannon, rang bells, built bonfires, and gave Bernard such a godsend on his journey as boded ill for the peace of his Majesty. Nor did Samuel Adams fail to print a sarcastic letter of farewell to the humiliated magistrate. This left Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, a worse Tory, in charge as the Viceroy. And Hutchinson never looked beyond one man—Samuel Adams—as the cause of all the King's perplexities.
The people had agreed not to drink or buy tea. The sons of Hutchinson, merchants, opened its sale January I, 1770. Again the town meeting proscribed the taxed beverage. On February 22 a crowd of boys tormented an obnoxious trader, and one of them was shot and killed. His funeral became a public event, the procession forming at Liberty Tree. On the evening of March 5, 1770, the people, after listening to a violent address by an unknown orator in Dock Square (where Samuel Adams' statue was afterward erected) harried a sentry until he retreated up the steps of the custom-house, and got support from eight more guards. These, pressed to the act, fired on the mob, killing three people and wounding five. This was the celebrated "Boston massacre." Governor Hutchinson bravely hurried to the scene and made an effective speech for order. The captain of the guard and nine sentries were arrested. The town meeting of the next day was an enormously large one. A committee of fifteen, with Samuel Adams in it, waited on Hutchinson, demanding the removal of the troops. Hutchinson refused to comply, alleging lack of authority. The town meeting re-assembled. Colonel Dalrymple, of one of the regiments, felt that it would be wise to take one of the regiments to the castle, and so hinted that he would grant a "request" to that effect. - As Samuel Adams went back to town meeting with this answer, he whispered right and left through the long lane of excited men : "Both regiments or none! Both regiments or none!" When the answer was read, there went up a prodigious cry : "Both regiments or none !" and it was then seen how clearly Samuel Adams was in command of the people, and in what a marvelously short time his watchword could be passed through a vast multitude. Seven dele-gates were sent back from the great Assembly, John Hancock nominally at their head, but Samuel Adams the spokesman. "The voice of ten thousand freemen demands that both regiments be forthwith removed." Slowly the Colonels, the Council, the Secretary, Oliver, and last, but unwillingly, Hutchinson, gave assent. The people were triumphant. A patriot night-watch was instituted. John Adams, for one, was summoned as a private soldier. "We were all on a level," he says in his diary. "I attended at the State House with my musket and bayonet, my broadsword and cartridge-box." The town buried its dead solemnly; one more had died of his wounds. When Lord North, Prime Minister of England, heard of this affair at Boston, he named his soldiers "The Sam Adams Regiments," and the little fishing town was credited in Europe with having bullied the Empire that no other Nation could get justice from. The town afterward acted with magnanimity toward the soldiers under arrest, but Samuel Adams hated the sight of a redcoat and despised the man who would wear the uniform. He therefore urged the prosecution of the soldiers who had fired. Two of them were branded on the hand. The rest were found not guilty. John Adams and other patriots defended them as legal counsel.
Samuel Adams opposed giving Deberdt's agency at London to Dr. Franklin when Deberdt died. He re-membered that young Ben Franklin had once asked his father to bless the whole barrel of beef in the cellar, and thus have done with it; Dr. Franklin was a Tory, so he said; Dr. Franklin had a natural son who was a Tory as bad as Hutchinson; nor did Dr. Franklin at first admire Radicals like Samuel Adams. Still Samuel Adams accepted what he could not prevent, and sent to Dr. Franklin some strong instructions, which Hillsborough would not deign to receive.
Late in 1772 Samuel Adams had his Committee of Correspondence of Twenty-one sitting in permanence. Governor Hutchinson ridiculed the plan as one that would speedily dissipate the influence of "the Chief Incendiary." But after watching it, Leonard, a Tory, wrote in January : "This is the foulest, subtlest, and most venomous serpent ever issued from the egg of sedition." By this means the towns of Massachusetts Bay and all the colonies were brought into close patriotic touch, and military organization followed naturally, with arrangements for the Tea Party and the Provincial Congress.
The Hutchinson letters made their chief noise at London, and are an essential part of Dr. Franklin's career. At Boston Samuel Adams raised a great local ado with them, yet beyond annoying Hutchinson and Oliver, and exposing more conspicuously the cordial and now barbaric hatred of Hutchinson and Samuel Adams for each other, they had little influence in Bos-ton. In London, however, the effect of the demand of the colonists for Hutchinson's recall was not under-estimated in Samuel Adams' hopes. A war was certain after Dr. Franklin had borne the vituperation of Wedderburn for sending Hutchinson's letters back to America.
September 27, 1773, in view of the attempt of the English to start the tea-selling at a low price, Samuel Adams called for "a Congress of the American States." The article was signed "Observation," in the Boston Gazette. November 3, a placard was placed on Liberty Tree inviting the people to be present and witness the resignation of the agents to whom the boycotted tea should be consigned. The consignees stayed away from the meeting. November 5, the Tories tried unsuccessfully to control a town meeting on the tea question. On the 17th three tea ships were heralded. A town meeting appointed Samuel Adams and others to demand the resignation of the consignees. The name of one of these was Faneuil; the two sons of Hutchinson were also still trying to make some money out of tea. The Committee of Correspondence was very busy, and there was an ominous absence of rhetoric and brawl-ing. Sunday, November 28, the Dartmouth, first of the tea ships, came in, but did not "enter" its papers. Mon-day forenoon there was a town meeting as great as the one after the "Massacre." "Adams," says Hutchinson in his history, "was never in greater glory." The meeting ordered the tea out of the harbor. Governor Hutchinson's office window was near by. Tuesday there was another meeting. The sea captain reported that he could not carry the tea back, but must store it. The Governor sent the sheriff to disperse the meeting—"warning, exhorting, requiring." The consignees had fled to the castle. The town meeting hissed the sheriff, and he departed. The "True Sons of Liberty" set a patrol over the ship, and two other ships arrived. Meantime, as if to certify the ruin of English interests, the ships must get their papers by a certain date or be confiscated, and the English revenue officers began to look sordidly on the cargoes. December i6, the largest town meeting ever held convened, while one of the frightened consignees tried hard to do as the meeting demanded. As night came on, the consignee returned and reported that the Governor would not sign the papers allowing him to send the tea back to sea. Samuel Adams, Moderator (an ironical title), then arose : "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country." These words were evidently a signal, for a tribe of "Mohawks" instantly appeared, whooping and dancing. These ran to the wharf, where they boarded the ships and heaved 342 chests of tea into the water. The tea could not land; it could not go back; ergo, it must be thrown into the harbor. No arrests were made, for Governor Hutchinson was awed. Yet he was a man who would neither flee nor make war on his people. Parliament passed a bill closing the port of Boston till the tea was paid for. Dr. Franklin advised indemnity, but Samuel Adams called him "a bungler." Still worse, Parliament abolished all the liberties of the people, and left them no alternative but to fight. They were now drilling. Salem was to be the capital under the new Parliamentary law. Town meetings were to be called by a Captain-General, and they could discuss only what that officer laid before them. The other colonies now determined that if Boston were brought to subjection alone, the rest would share her fate—Samuel Adams had made this clear.
May 13, 1774, the new Governor, Thomas Gage, arrived to take the place of Hutchinson. He was civilly received by John Hancock. There was even a banquet at Faneuil Hall. Yet already the die was cast. Dr. Franklin had seen that tyranny and oppression were the only peace-offerings of England, and his great calm mind was at last implacably against his King. When Hutchinson arrived at London, Lord Dartmouth did not give him time to change his clothes after the journey, but hastened with him to the King. "Why hath not Mr. Adams been taken off from his opposition by an office?" inquired an able statesman. "Such is the obstinacy and inflexible disposition of the man," was Hutchinson's reply, "that he never could be conciliated by any office or gift whatever !"
But Governor Gage thought Governor Hutchinson, his predecessor, had not offered enough. He sent Colonel Fenton, of one of the new regiments, to say openly to Samuel Adams that great gifts and advance-ment were open to him if he would recede, while again the Governor was prepared to advise him not to incur the further displeasure of his Majesty. Samuel Adams rose in anger : "Sir, I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of Kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country. Tell Governor Gage it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated people."
When at last the Assembly met, at Salem, the Tories had come out of hiding and were jubilant. It was even thought Samuel Adams would not dare to come to Salem. It was to be the last meeting under the abrogated charter. He was late. A number of Tories were in the clerk's chair. When he entered, he scattered them and put a ludicrous end to their stories of his downfall. The Governor made a great show of Tory authority, and the Tories were led to enter the Assembly, giving it all the appearance and prestige of a plenary body. Here Samuel Adams performed one of the cleverest feats of parliamentary diplomacy that are recorded. He secretly got a majority for resolutions calling a Continental Congress, appointing delegates, and condemning all the recent acts of Parliament, and when the question was sprung for debate, locked the doors so the Governor could not enter to prorogue the body, nor could the profaned Tories escape to shake the treason off their garments. This was in the latter part of June, 1774. The port of Boston was entirely closed, and hard times were well on the people. Samuel Adams' clerkship was at end. If that noble patriot had looked into his own future, it would have seemed darker than his country's. He busied himself instructing Dr. Joseph Warren how to manage things while he (Adams) should be absent at the Continental Congress and pushed forward the relief work, to keep the Boston dock people from starving. As war came closer and closer to the property holders, he went nearer and nearer to the people who, after all, must do the fighting. His affectionate townsmen rebuilt his barn, patched his house, dressed him in fine clothes, put money in his purse, and sent him off to Philadelphia bidding him to give the Quakers no mean opinion of the seditious town of Boston. Three others—John Adams, Cushing, and Paine—traveled with him. It was the first time he had been away from home. But he received a cool welcome at Philadelphia. The Sons of Liberty there told the four Bostoneers to keep well in the background; the South had heard they were all desperate adventurers. The report went that "Cushing was harmless and poor; Samuel Adams was very artful and designing, desperately poor, powerful only with the lowest vulgar; John Adams and Paine were two poor young lawyers." The mere whisper of the word "independence" would stampede the Congress. So Samuel Adams went into Congress and asked that an Episcopal rector should lead in prayer. It was not long before Congress noted his hold on everything Bostonian. "He eats little, drinks little, sleeps little, thinks much," was said. Neither was it many weeks before he had risen and made this immortal speech: "I should advise persisting in our struggle for liberty, though it were revealed from heaven that 999 were to perish, and only one of a thousand to survive and retain his liberty. One such freeman must possess more virtue, and enjoy more happiness, than a thousand slaves; and let him propagate his like, and transmit to them what he hath so nobly preserved."
The Bostoneers returned from Philadelphia to Bos-ton. On the 5th of March they held a memorial meeting in the Old South Church, Dr. Joseph Warren speaking, with soldiers present to throw eggs if the King were insulted and to kill Samuel Adams and Hancock in the melee. The patriots claimed the last town meeting was still in session, and Governor Gage let it go on. He was proceeding in due order to bring military force to bear on a seditious people. It was Samuel Adams' plan to hold the country against the port. April 19, 1775, Governor Gage sent a detachment to Concord, eighteen miles inland, to capture munitions of war that were stored there. Seventy immortal patriots opposed their march at Lexington; the British fired first, killing eight colonists. Samuel Adams and Hancock fled out of Boston and made their way to Philadelphia as delegates. Dr. Warren, who had delivered the oration in March, was now the leader at home, and the army of the Provincial Congress gathered about Boston, from the Mystic River to Roxbury. June 12, Gage offered pardon to all save Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offenses were "of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than that of condign punish-ment." At Philadelphia John Adams thought Colonel Washington should be Commander-in-Chief. He moved it. Samuel Adams seconded it.. The news from Bunker Hill was bad. Dr. Warren, the faithful henchman, was already dead, killed in the first real battle. Possibly Samuel Adams envied the great martyr his crown. He wrote to his wife, deploring Dr. Warren's fall. "I thoroughly despise Gage and his proclamation," he said. The Boston delegation, when it returned to the patriot army, carried $500,000 to General Washington. Samuel Adams was made Secretary of the patriot State of Massachusetts. Back again he rode to the Third Continental Congress, where there still were few for independence, and the critical year 1776 came into history. At last, after a long debate, five men were charged to draw a Declaration of Independence, and John Adams instead of Samuel went on the committee for Massachusetts; at the same time Samuel Adams served on a committee to make a plan of confederation for the colonies. Jefferson drew the Declaration as Samuel Adams would have done. Yet in this Quaker town, surrounded by the Southern gentlemen, to whom John Hancock so soon paid court, Samuel Adams, with Dr. Warren dead and two Virginians in command at Boston, must have felt he was paying a good price for liberty. Lately he had won the regard of Dr. Franklin, Jefferson, and Henry. Those great Fathers would have gone to Boston to fight , with him had the laggard Quakers much longer carried olive branches to the British. The Tories denounced him, in both countries, as "a hypocrite in religion [the Episcopal prayer, when Congress opened] ; a Republican in politics; of sufficient cunning to form a consummate knave [the lock-out at Salem] ; possessed of as much learning as is necessary to disguise the truth with sophistry; a moralist, whose axiom was, 'the end justifies the means'; empty in pocket, unbounded in -ambition, with a violent disaffection to Great Britain." Each day revealed the seditions he had secretly practiced while saluting the majesty of the King. "He was the first," avers the expatriated Hutchinson, "that publicly asserted the independency of the colonies on the Kingdom."
Samuel Adams could have died gloriously at Bunker Hill. Dr. Warren's place belonged to him. Then nothing would have been lacking in the noble picture. Now we must see him cast into the shadow of the marching and defeated armies which his brain had called into the field. Hancock had been so long lampooned as the tool of Samuel Adams, that he soon turned hostile at Philadelphia. Hancock circulated the report that Samuel Adams was the enemy of General Washington. "This contemptible fabrication is to render me odious to the people."
Samuel Adams' last signature in Congress was to the Articles of Confederation of 1781, which he much preferred to the Constitution of today, and in April he returned to Massachusetts, whose soil he was never more to leave. There he entered the town meeting with his old delight, receiving the honors that the original patriots always paid to him, and doubtless relating for their benefit the many frugalities and frigidities of the Conservatives who had touched elbows with him so slightly. When the French heroes of Yorktown de-barked from Boston, Samuel Adams was at the head of the demonstrations. When the Massachusetts convention met to see if the people would accept the Federal Constitution, Samuel Adams did not like the instrument. To head him off, Paul Revere, the news-carrier of the Boston rebellion, came to the old man with news that the Boston mechanics wanted the Constitution, and had said so in a meeting. "How many mechanics?" "More than the Green Dragon could hold." "Where were the rest?" "In the streets, sir." "How many were in the streets?" "More, sir, than there are stars in the sky." Samuel Adams receded. The patriots who wanted liberty first of all were called anti-Federals. Samuel Adams stood for Congress and was beaten. He was even threatened with assassination. He was reconciled to Hancock, who was now ill, and the two patriots were made Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, Samuel Adams second. Hancock died while Governor October 8, 1793. Samuel Adams followed the coffin as chief mourner. Through Hancock's death he became Governor, and was reëlected in 1794, 1795, and 1796. The Federalists opposed him, but for three years they could not defeat him. He voluntarily retired from public life in the spring of 1797. In Congress Virginia cast twenty Presidential votes for Thomas Jefferson and fifteen for Samuel Adams, which was one of the most noble acts the State of Virginia ever put on record.
He bade farewell to the State House and town meeting, receiving the respectful and reverential addresses of the public bodies. He stood, seventy-five years old, without glasses, with clear, high forehead, big bushy eyebrows, benignant, but careworn. He retired to the old home on Purchase street, where, sitting on his porch, he received many testimonies of the people's gratitude. On the inauguration of the Federalist Governor, Cabel Strong, the procession passed in Purchase street. The Governor saw the old Republican sitting on the steps of his home, and magnanimously stopped the procession. He went bareheaded to the grandsire, and pressed the feeble hand. The soldiers presented arms; the people all took off their hats; some shed tears.
When Thomas Jefferson, that marvelous pupil of the ancient proscribed patriot, came in as President of the United States, he at once dispatched a message to Samuel Adams in Purchase street: "Be assured that there exists not in the heart of man a more faithful esteem than mine to you, and that I shall ever bear you the most affectionate veneration and respect."
The great Revolutionary Father died on Sunday morning, October 2, 1803, while Federalism was still in the ascendant at Boston. Nevertheless, a formal and official funeral ceremony was performed, in grateful testimony of his unselfish and courageous career.
That the city of Boston should boast of her chief son is but a proof of loyalty to the Nation. Few cities in the world have reared, and held through life, and buried, such a patriot.