Portrait of Sam Adams.

Portrait of Sam Adams by John Singleton Copley.

Samuel Adams

September 27, 1722–October 2, 1803

Samuel Adams was a Founding Father, member of the Continental Congress, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a leading proponent of colonial independence from Great Britain. After the Revolution, Adams served four terms as Governor of Massachusetts.


Samuel Adams was a patriot leader during the American Revolution era, born in Boston. He became a tax collector in 1756 and was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1765. Adams was one of the Founding Fathers and led the push for liberty through propaganda and his involvement in the Sons of Liberty with John Hancock. Adams was a second cousin to John Adams, the second President, and fellow Founding Father. He also signed the Declaration of Independence.

Throughout his career, Adams adhered to an ascetic ideal of virtue that reflected both his Puritan heritage and his republican principles. He mobilized popular opinion against Britain through his mastery of propaganda techniques and his use of the press. Equally important was his participation in political organizations such as the Sons of Liberty. Adams was especially active in securing the passage of the 1768 Massachusetts Circular Letter, which denounced the Townshend Acts (1767). In 1772, he established the Boston Committee of Correspondence, which served as a model for other colonies.

Adams presided over the mass meeting that preceded the Boston Tea Party in 1773. He has been credited with giving the signal that instigated the tea’s destruction, although his exact role in this event is unclear.

In 1774, Adams was elected to the Continental Congress, and he continued to be involved in revolutionary politics. This fervor for freedom coexisted with a firm belief in the social order, even after the Revolution. As a result, he supported the Shay’s Rebellion in 1786.

Adams served as the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1789 to 1793 and then as Governor until 1797. Adams is memorialized by a statue outside of Faneuil Hall in Boston, home of the Boston Town Meeting. The inscription reads, “Samuel Adams. 1722-1803. A patriot. He organized the Revolution and signed the Declaration of Independence.”


Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Samuel Adams
  • Coverage September 27, 1722–October 2, 1803
  • Author
  • Keywords samuel adams, founding father, continental congress, declaration of independence, governor of massachusetts
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date December 5, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 28, 2021
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