Samuel Adams was born on September 27, 1722 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, Old Samuel Adams, was a deacon in the Old South Church in Boston. He also served as justice of the peace, selectman and was a Boston representative on the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
In 1736, Samuel Adams attended Harvard University. He graduated in 1743 with a Master of Arts Degree. After graduation he began to study law, but soon gave that up. His father gave him a loan of 1,000 pounds. He loaned half of it and lost the other half when his business failed. After the fall of his business, he worked with his father in the family brewery.
In 1748, his father died and his mother passed away soon thereafter. He inherited an estate, which included a home on Purchase Street and the family brewery. He spent most of his inheritance within 10 years and creditors attempted to seize his home. In 1756 he got a job as a tax collector. He soon accumulated over 8,000 pounds in uncollected taxes. He quit working as a tax collector in 1764. He then drafted instructions for the Boston legislature in 1764 and again in 1765. On September 27, 1765, he was elected a representative to the general court of Massachusetts and then re-elected continuously until 1774.
Prior to the year 1764, Adams became a prominent leader in the popular political party. Adams helped form the Sons of Liberty, which emerged from the Caucus club, a popular political club that was started by his father. He then took leadership of the radical fraction that had gained control of the legislature. Adams almost immediately began attacking Royal Lt. Governor Thomas Hutchinson. Adams did not like Hutchinson because of their opposing political views and that he caused Adams’ father a huge financial loss when he led the movement to dissolve the Land Bank in 1741.
Adams was now distinguished in his radical politics. In 1767 he organized opposition to the Townshend Acts. Charles Townshend proposed importation duties on glass, paint, paper, and tea. This was an external tax, as opposed to the internal tax of the Stamp Act. In 1768 he helped form the Non-Importation Association, and drafted the Massachusetts Circular Letter, which in February of 1768 was adopted by the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Adams then started working on setting up a network of revolutionaries. In 1770, the morning after the Boston Massacre, a meeting of the Boston citizens was called. Adams addressed the listening multitude with a speech that had great energy and exercise and an absolute control over the passions and affections of the multitude. A committee was chosen to wait upon Governor Hutchinson. Adams was chosen to be on the committee. Through Adams’ decisive and spirited conduct, the stubbornness of the Royal Governor was subdued. Adams’ popularity continued to grow. In 1773 he used the Hutchinson Letters Affair to stir up discontent against the royal government. The letters were used to urge tougher policies on the colonies by England.
On May 10, 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which was meant to save the East India Tea Company from bankruptcy. The Tea Act allowed the East India Tea Company to send half a million pounds of tea to America with only a three cent per pound tax. The tea was delivered to consignees in New York, Charleston, Philadelphia, and Boston. Philadelphia and New York resigned on October 16, 1773 and Charleston resigned on December 3, 1776. The tea was impounded and was then sent to Boston on three ships on November 27, 1773. Adams and the Sons of Liberty then prevented the Boston ships from being unloaded by holding the Boston Tea Party the night of December 16, 1773. Several thousand colonists gathered near the wharf and encouraged sixty men who were disguised as Mohawk Indians. The men boarded the three ships and dumped 342 chests of tea overboard. The British reacted to the tea party with the Intolerable Acts, which Adams opposed. Adams convinced Massachusetts to send delegates to a colonial congress to unify efforts against the Intolerable Acts. At the colonial congress, resolves were passed that denounced the Intolerable Acts and Adams was chosen as one of five delegates of the First Continental Congress.
Samuel Adams signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776 along with the other Congressional delegates. Adams served on the Continental Congress until 1781, but provided little constructive value during his service. In April of 1781, he returned to Boston and became part of the convention that drafted the Massachusetts State Constitution. He then became a state senator and then pursued the governorship, but lost to John Hancock. In 1788, he was on the convention that wrote the United States Constitution. He served as Lt. Governor from 1789 to 1793 and became Governor when Hancock died. He was then elected Governor in 1794 and served until 1797. Adams died in Boston on October 2, 1803.
Samuel Adams was a leader and excellent politician. Although he was an unsuccessful brewer and poor businessman he made quite an impact on the Untied Sates of America.