Samuel Adams


Outspoken and fiery, Samuel Adams used his mighty pen

To urge rebellion as not a matter of "if" but as a matter of "when."


Our unalterable resolution would be to be free. They have attempted to subdue us by force, but God be praised! in vain.  Their arts may be more dangerous than their arms.  Let us then renounce all treaty with them upon any score but that of total separation, and under God trust our cause to our swords.
Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, April 16, 1776

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.    Samuel Adams        

"Mr. Adams was a Christian. His mind was early imbued with piety, as well as cultivated by science. He early approached the table of the Lord Jesus, and the purity of his life witnessed the sincerity of his profession. On the Christian Sabbath, he constantly went to the temple, and the morning and evening devotions in his family proved, that his religion attended him in his seasons of retirement from the world.  The last production of his pen was in favor of Christian truth.  He died in the faith of the Gospel."

William Allen, An American Biographical and Historical Dictionary, Containing an Account of the Lives, Characters, and Writings of the Most Eminent Persons in North America from Its First Discovery to the Present Time, and a Summary of the History of the Several Colonies and of the United States (Cambridge: William Hilliard, 1809), pp. 3-6.]

The rights of the colonists as Christians...may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.     Samuel Adams   


         Samuel Adams descended from a family that was among the first to settle in America.  In the year 1736, he attended Harvard University, graduating in 1740, distinguished for classical and scientific achievements.  He continued on to obtain a master's, already showing a prophetic interest in America's liberty should she be treated unfairly by the mother country.  


         Upon graduation, he opened a business out of respect for his mother's wishes; but his heart was never sold to mercantile pursuits, and he failed at the business endeavor.  Political rights and philosophical theory overtook his thoughts and activities to the point where he neglected many worldly concerns.  He was knowledgeable, to be sure, in areas that benefited us as a liberated nation; but to him personally, time and energy spent to achieve his extensive comprehension proved to show him some material harm.  It was said that he ate little, drank little, slept little, and thought much.  He did not care about making money and did not care to accumulate property.  Of his inheritance, he lent half to a friend who never repaid him.  He often held a political office without pay or very scant pay. 


        When he saw England tax America's businesses, he asked, "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."  His boldness in denouncing unjust acts of the British ministry branded him as a leader of the patriotic party.  He later became known as the "Father of the Revolution,"  admitting "that the independence of the United States upon Great Britain had been the first wish of his heart seven years before the war."

        In 1765 he was elected a representative to the general court of Massachusetts; and serving in that body until 1774, his truth was heard as he served on almost every committee and assisted in writing nearly every report to counteract unjust plans of the British administration.  His passion for political exercises continued to consume his time while his finances suffered.  When England learned that he was destitute, Governor Hutchinson was asked to help him out with a high-paying office serving the Crown's government, which would be against the liberties of the colonists.  However, Hutchinson knew Adams very well and told England that "Such is the obstinacy and inflexible disposition of the man, that he never can be conciliated by any office or gift whatever." 

       Samuel Adams wrote under several pen names to educate the masses about their God-given rights.  If a bad law is passed, it is the people's responsibility to recognize it as a bad law and to fight against it.  And, indeed, it is fortunate for us that our ancestors understood their own rights, and continued with courage to assert them.


        It wasn't long before Adams was messaged by General Gage through Colonel Fenton that if he did not cease opposition to the royal government, he would be put on trial for treason.  However, if he did change his political conduct, he could enjoy prestige and wealth.  To this proposal, Adams replied; "Go tell Governor Gage, that my peace has long since been made with the King of kings, and that it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of an already exasperated people."  Angered and red-faced at the waghalters, Gage proclaimed, "I do hereby in his majesty's name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon to all persons, who shall forthwith lay down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects: excepting only from the benefits of such pardon, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, whose offenses are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration but that of condign punishment."

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.
Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775

        Adams attended the Continental Congress from 1774 until 1781.  Benjamin Rush described, "He was near sixty years of age when he took his seat in Congress, but possessed all the vigor of mind of a young man of five and twenty.....He considered national happiness and the public patronage of religion as inseparably connected; and so great was his regard for public worship, as the means of promoting religion, that he constantly attended divine service in the German church in Yorktown while the Congress sat there, when there was no service in their chapel, although he was ignorant of the German language.  His morals were irreproachable, and even ambition and avarice, the usual vices of politicians, seemed to have no place in his breast.  He seldom spoke in Congress, but was active in preparing and doing business out of doors.....His abilities were considerable, and his knowledge extensive and correct upon Revolutionary subjects, and both friends and enemies agree in viewing him as one of the most active instruments of the American Revolution."


        In April of 1775, between the First and Second Continental Congresses, he and John Hancock narrowly escaped the British, having just enough time to get away after being warned by Paul Revere and William Dawes.  Between 1781 and 1788, Adams was part of the Massachusetts State Senate.   



Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. 

Psalm 31:24     

        After Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, fear settled within the hearts of many colonists.  Doubts and misgivings were expressed as they considered that perhaps they were too hasty in their zeal for freedom.  Adams was confident of heaven's blessings and responded to them, "The chance is desperate.........Indeed, indeed, it is desperate 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.......I should advise persisting in our struggle for liberty, though it were revealed from Heaven that nine hundred and ninety-nine were to perish, and only one of a thousand were to survive and retain his liberty!  One such freeman must possess more virtue, and enjoy more happiness, than a thousand slaves; and let him propagate his like, and transmit to them what he hath so nobly preserved."          


 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.

 Psalm 37:16

Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence, by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1997). Orignaly Published in 1912 as volume 3 of The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons). Pages 59-62.


        In Paul Revere's own words:  ".....I then went home, took my boots and surtout, went to the north part of the town, where I had kept a boat; two friends rode me across the Charles River, a little to the eastward where the Somerset man-of-war lay. It was then young flood, the ship was winding, and the moon was rising. They landed me in the Charlestown side. When I got into town, I met Colonel Conant and several others; they said they had seen our signals. I told them what was acting, and went to get me a horse; I got a horse off Deacon Larkin. While the horse was preparing, Richard Devens, Esq., who was one of the Committee of Safety, came to me and told me that he came down the road from Lexington after sundown that evening; that he met ten British Officers, all well mounted, and armed, going up the road.
        I set off upon a very good horse; it was then about eleven o'clock and very pleasant. After I had passed Charlestown Neck, I saw two men on horse back under a tree. When I got near them, I discovered they were British Officers. One tried to get ahead of me, and the other to take me. I turned my horse very quick and galloped towards Charlestown Neck, and then pushed for the Medford road. The one who chased me, endeavoring to cut me off, got into a clay pond where Mr. Russell's Tavern in now built. I got clear of him, and went through Medford, over the bridge and up to Menotomy. In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the minute men; and after that, I alarmed almost every house, till I got to Lexington. I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams at the Reverend Mr. Clarks; I told them my errand and enquired for Mr. Daws; they said he had not been there; I related the story of the two officers, and supposed that he must have been stopped, as he ought to have been there before me.
        After I had been there about a half an hour, Mr. Daws came; we refreshed ourselves, and set off for Concord. We were overtaken by a Dr. Prescott, whom we found to be a high Son of Liberty. I told of the ten officers that Mr. Devens met, and that it was probable we might be stopped before we got to Concord; for I suppose that after night they divided themselves, and that two of them fixed themselves in such passages as were most likely to stop any intelligence going to Concord. I likewise mentioned that had better alarm all the inhabitants till we got to Concord. The young doctor much approved of it and said he would stop with either of us, for the people between that and Concord knew him and would give the more credit to what we said.
        We had got nearly half way. Mr. Daws and the doctor stopped to alarm the people of a house. I was about one hundred rods ahead when I saw two men in nearly the same situation as those officers were near Charlestown. I called for the doctor and Mr.Daws to come up. In an instant I was surrounded by four. They had placed themselves in a straight road that inclined each way; they had taken down a pair of bars on the north side of the road, and two of them were under a tree in the pasture. The doctor being foremost, he came up and we tried to get past them; but they being armed with pistols and swords, they forced us into the pasture. The doctor jumped his horse over a low stone wall and got to Concord.
        I observed a wood at a small distance and made for that. When I got there, out started six officers on horseback and ordered me to dismount. One of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from and what my name was. I told him. He asked me if I was an express. I answered in the affirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston. I told him, and added that their troops had catched aground in passing the river, and that there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the country all the way up. He immediately rode towards those who stopped us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop. One of them, whom I afterwards found to be a Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name and told me he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out. He then asked me similar questions to those above. He then ordered me to mount my horse, after searching me for arms. He then ordered them to advance and to lead me in front. When we had got about one mile, the major rode up to the officer that was leading me, and told him to give me to the sergeant. As soon as he took me, the major ordered him, if I attempted to run, or anybody insulted them, to blow my brains out.
        We rode till we got near Lexington meeting-house, when the militia fired a volley of guns, which appeared to alarm them very much. The major inquired of me how far it was to Cambridge, and if there were any other road. After some consultation, the major rode up to the sergeant and asked if his horse was tired. He answered him he was- he was a sergeant of grenadiers and had a small horse. "Then," said he, "take that man's horse." I dismounted, and the sergeant mounted my horse, when they all rode towards Lexington meeting-house.
        I went across the burying-ground and some pastures and came to the Rev. Mr. Clark's house, where I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams. I told them of my treatment, and they concluded to go from that house towards Woburn. I went with them and a Mr. Lowell, who was a clerk to Mr. Hancock.
        When we got to the house where they intended to stop, Mr. Lowell and myself returned to Mr. Clark's, to find what was going on. When we got there, an elderly man came in; he said he had just come from the tavern, that a man had come from Boston who said there were no British troops coming. Mr. Lowell and myself went towards the tavern, when we met a man on a full gallop, who told us the troops were coming up the rocks. We afterwards met another, who said they were close by. Mr. Lowell asked me to go to the tavern with him, to get a trunk of papers belonging to Mr. Hancock. We went up chamber, and while we were getting the trunk, we saw the British very near, upon a full march. We hurried towards Mr. Clark's house. In our way we passed through the militia. There were about fifty. When we had got about one hundred yards from the meeting-house, the British troops appeared on both sides of the meeting-house. In their front was an officer on horseback. They made a short halt; when I saw, and heard, a gun fired, which appeared to be a pistol. Then I could distinguish two guns, and then a continual roar of musketry; when we made off with the trunk."  Letter from Paul Revere, Mass. Historical Society, Proc., XVI, 371-374.

First-hand Account of the Midnight Ride