Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Page 5

Samuel Adams


The independence of America was at length declared, and gave a new political character, and an immediate dignity to the cause of the colonies. But notwithstanding this measure might itself bear the aspect of victory, a formidable contest yet awaited the Americans. The year following the declaration of independence, the situation of the colonies was extremely gloomy. The stoutest hearts trembled within them, and even doubts were expressed, whether the measures which had been adopted, particularly the declaration of independence, were not precipitate. The neighbourhood of Philadelphia became the seat of war; congress, now reduced to only twenty-eight members, had resolved to remove their session to Lancaster. At this critical period, Mr. Adams accidentally fell in company with several other members, by whom the subject of the state of the country was freely and confidentially discussed. Gloomy forebodings seemed to pervade their millds, and the greatest anxiety was expressed as to the issue of the contest.

To this conversation, Mr. Adams listened with silent attention. At length he expressed his surprise, that such desponding feelings should have settled upon their hearts, and such desponding language should be even confidentially uttered by their lips. To this it was answered, "The chance is desperate." "Indeed, indeed, it is desperate," said Mr. Adams, "if this be our language. If we wear long faces, others will do so too; if we despair, let us not expect that others will hope; or that they will persevere in a contest, from which their leaders shrink. But let not such feelings, let not such language, be ours." Thus, while the hearts of others were ready to faint, Samuel Adams maintained his usual firmness. His unshaken courage, and his calm reliance upon the aid and protection of heaven, contributed in an eminent degree to inspire his countrymen with a confidence of their final success. A higher encomium could not have been bestowed on any member of the Continental Congress, than is expressed in relation to Mr. Adams by Mr. Galloway, in his historical and political reflections on the rise and progress of the American rebellion, published in Great Britain, 1780. "He eats little," says the author, " drinks little, sleeps little, thinks much, and is most indefatigable in the pursuit of his object. It was this man, who by his superior application, managed at once the factions in congress at Philadelphia, and the factions of New-England."

In 1781, Mr. Adams retired from congress; but it was to receive from his native state, additional proofs of her high estimation of his services, and of the confidence which she reposed in his talents and integrity He had already been an active member of the convention that formed her constitution; and after it went into effect, he was placed in the senate of the state, and for several years presided over that body. In 1789, he was elected lieutenant governor, and held that office till 1794; when, upon the death of Hancock, he was chosen governor, and was annually re-elected till 1797, when he retired from public life. This retirement, however, he did not long enjoy, as his death occurred on October 2d, 1803, at the advanced age of 82.

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Last modified January 2, 2004