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Page 2

Samuel Adams

1722-1803

In 1763 it was announced, that the British ministry had it in view to " tax the colonies, for the purpose of raising a revenue, which was to be placed at the disposal of the crown.' This news filled the colonies with alarm. In Massachusetts, a committee was appointed by the people of Boston to express the public sentiment in relation to this contemplated measure, for the guidance of the representatives to the general court. The instructions of this committee were drawn by Mr. Adams. They formed, in truth, a powerful remonstrance against the injustice of the contemplated system of taxation; and they merit the more particular notice, as they were the first recorded public document, which denied the right of taxation to the British parliament. They also contained the first suggestion of the propriety of that mutual understanding and correspondence among the colonies, which laid the foundation of their future confederacy. Ill these instructions, after alluding to the evils which had resulted from the acts of the British parliament, relating to trade, Mr. Adams observes: -- "If our trade may be taxed, why not our lands? Why not the produce of our lands, and every thing we possess, or use? This we conceive annihilates our charter rights to govern and tax ourselves. It strikes at our British privileges, which, as we have never forfeited, we hold in common with our fellow subjects, who are natives of Britain. If tastes are laid upon us in any shape, without our having a legal representation, where they are laid, we are reduced from the character of free subjects, to the state of tributary slaves. We, therefore, earnestly recommend it to you, to use your utmost endeavours to obtain from the general court, all necessary advice and instruction to our agent, at this most critical Juncture." "We also desire you to use your endeavours, that the other colonies, having the same interests and rights with us, may add their weight to that of this province; that by united application of all who areagreed, all may obain redress !"

The deep interest which Mr. Adams felt and manifested for the rights of the colonies, soon brought him into favour with the patriotic party. He became a leader in their popular assemblies, and was bold in denouncing the unjust acts of the British ministry.

In 1765 he was elected a representative to the general court of Massachusetts, from the town of Boston. From this period, during the whole revolutionary struggle, he was the bold, persevering, and efficient supporter of the rights of his oppressed country. As a member of the court, he soon became conspicuous, and was honoured with the office of clerk to that body. In the legislature, he was characterized for the same activity and boldness which he had manifested in the town. He was appointed upon almost every committee, assisted in drawing nearly every report, and exercised a large share of influence, in almost every meeting, which had for its object the counteraction of the unjust plans of the administration.

But it was not in his legislative capacity alone, that Mr. Adams exhibited his hostility to the British government, and his regard for rational freedom. Several able essays on these subjects were published by him; and he was the author of several plans for opposing, more successfully, the unjust de-signs of the mother country. He has the honour of having suggested the first congress at New-York, which prepared the way for a Continental Congress, ten years after; and at length for the union and confederacy of the colonies.

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Last modified January 2, 2004