Biography of Samuel Adams
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 a second cousin to John Adams, the second President, and fellow Founding Father.
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 a 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.”
Samuel Adams — Quick Facts
- Born September 27, 1722, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Graduated from Harvard College in 1740.
- Cousin of John Adams, second U.S. President.
- Member of the Boston Sons of Liberty.
- Member of the Boston Committee of Correspondence.
- Influential essayist who inflamed colonial discontent with British taxes such as the Sugar Act (1764), the Stamp Act (1765), and the Townshend Acts (1767).
- Instrumental in bringing about the Boston Tea Party (1773).
- Elected to the Continental Congress from Massachusetts from 1774 to 1781.
- Signed Declaration of Independence in 1776.
- Four-term Governor of Massachusetts from 1793 to 1797.
- Member of the Massachusetts convention for ratification of the Federal Constitution, 1788.
- Died October 2, 1803, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Buried at Granary Burial Ground, Boston, Massachusetts.