« AnteriorContinuar »
sion he was ill adapted, and it received but a small share of his attention. 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 Josses, soon consumed all he had.
At the age of twenty-fiye, his father died, and, as he was the oldest 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 polita , ical 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 their homes mais pould fulanime.com ell the opposite party in politics often alluded to, and in their controversies would style him Samuel the
Publican. While the British 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, haying 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 him 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 those who opposed it in every step. He was 'not averse to the manner in which the people evinced their determinate opposi. tion, by destroying the stamped 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 overy 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 privileges, that he obtained the appellation of the patriot Samuel Adams.
In 1765, he was elected a member of the general assembly 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 prov. ince. They bound themselves, if the duties were not repealed, not to import, or to order any, but certain enumerated articles, after the first of January, 1769.
On the evening of the fifth 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 a committee to wait upon the licutenant 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. Mr. Adams acted as chairman. They waited on the lieutenant governor, and communicated this last vote of the town; and, in a speech of some length, Mr. Adams stated the danger of keeping the troops longer in the capital, fully proving the illegality of the act itself; and enumerating the fatal consequences that would ensue, if he refused an' immediate compliance with the vote. Lieutenant governor Hutchinson, with his usual prevarication, replied, and foundly asserted, that there was no illegality in the measure; and repeated, that the troops were not subject to his authority, but that he would direct the removal of the twenty-ninth regiment. Mr. Adams again rose: The magnitude of the subject, and the manner in which it was treated by lieutenant governor Hutchinson, had now roused the impetuous feelings of his patriotic soul. With indignation strongly expressed in his countenance, and in a firm, resolute, and commanding manner, he replied, "that it was well known, that, acting as governor of the province, he was, by its charter, the commander in chief of his majesty's military and naval forces, and as such, the troops
were subject to his orders; and if he had the power to remove one regiment, he had the power to remove both, and nothing short of this would satisfy the people, and it was at his peril, if the vote of the town was not immediately complied with, and if it be longer delayed, he, alone, must be answerable for the fatal consequences that would ensue." This produced a momentary silence. It was now dark, and the people were waiting in anxious suspense for the report of the committee. A conference in whispers followed between lieutenant governor Hutchinson and colonel Dalrymple. The former, finding himself so closely pressed, and the fallacy and absurdity of his arguments thus glaringly exposed, yielded up his positions, and gave his consent to the removal of both regiments; and colonel Dalrymple pledged his word of honour, that he would begin his preparations in the morning, and that there should be no unnecessary delay, until the whole of both regiments were removed to the castle.
At a very early period of the controversy between the mother country and the colonies, Mr. Adams was impressed with the importance of establishing committees of correspondence. In 1766, he made some suggestions on this subject in a letter to a. friend in South Carolina ; but it was found to be either impracticable or inexpedient before the year 1772, when it was first adopted by Massachusetts, on a motion of Mr. Adams at a public town meet. ing in Boston. This plan was followed by all the provinces. Mr. Adams's private letters may have advanced this important work. In a letter to. Richard Henry Lee, Esq. of Virginia, which, unfortunately, is without a date, is the following remark : " I would propose it for your consideration, whether the establishment of committees of correspondence among the several towns in every colony, would not tend to promote the general union