« ПредишнаНапред »
tioned in history, who has expended a more ample fortune in promoting the liberties of his country.
It is said he was very passionately devoted to social amusements. His habitation was every day crowded with guests, either of citizens or strangers, who were allured by the splendour of his hospitality; whom he entertained, however, with no riotous dissipation, but with a becoming elegance and propriety; nor is he to be censured, if offering to his countrymen no example of insolence, or illiberal debauch; if using the beneficence of fortune, he sometimes relieved the austerities of occupation by the pleasures of a generous festivity. He encountered, in the promotion of honest enterprises, many labours and dangers; and has left upon the records of his country, a testimony which the malevolence of time cannot destroy, that no seductions of pleasure, that not even the decrepitude of disease withheld him from the service of the republic.
His exertions were employed, it should also be remembered, not only without intermission, but from the minutest to the most exalted duties of a statesman; from the humble debates of a town meeting, to the deliberations of a senate. And to have retained, for the most part, with a frank and generous disposition, with a familiarity of intercourse and continual exhibition, the evanescent affections of the multitude; and this, too, amidst the factious passions of a revolution, implies no ordinary dexterity and address. For what is there in moral or physical excellence that does not lose, by frequency, the admiration of mortals —Genius is divested of her sublimity, Wit of her ornaments, and even Virtue is disrobed of her majesty by exposure to the capricious observation of Iman.
WITH the names of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, stands inseparably united that of Adams; and they form together the brightest constellation which illumines the revolutionary annals of our country. It was the last, however, alone, which was borne by two individuals, each perhaps equally conspicuous and equally serviceable in the cause, though differing much in their course of life, their opinions and their dispositions.
SAMUEL ADAMs, whose name as a delegate from Massachusetts, immediately follows that of Hancock on the Declaration of Independence, was, without doubt, one of the most remarkable among those men, whose lives we are recording, and we shall scarcely find a great event in the history of the revolution with which he was not in some way connected. He was born at Quincy, near Boston, on the twenty-second of September, 1722, and was descended from a family of much respectability that had settled in New England, at a very early period. His father was for many years a representative for the town of Boston, in the colonial house of assembly, to which he was annually elected till his death. He was long a justice of the peace and a selectman of the town; possessing considerable wealth, and much respected and esteemed.
Samuel Adams acquired his preparatory knowledge at the well known Latin grammar school of Mr. Lovell, where he was remarkably attentive to his studies. His conduct was similar while at college; during the whole term he had to pay but one fine, and that for not attending morning prayers, in consequence of having overslept himself. By a close and steady application, he acquired much classical and scientific knowledge. At an early age, he was admitted a student at Harvard University, and in 1740, and 1743, the respective degrees of bachelor and master of arts were conferred upon him. On the latter occasion, he proposed the following question for discussion, “whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magis. trate, if the commonwealth cannot be otherwise preserved?” He maintained the affirmative of the proposition, and thus evinced, at this early period of life, his attachment to the liberties of the people. While he was a student, his father allowed him a regular and fixed stipend. Of this, he saved a sufficient sum, to publish, at his own expense, a pamphlet, called “Englishmen's Rights.” His father intended him for the bar, but this determination, at the solicitation of his mother, was altered, and he was placed as an apprentice with Thomas Cushing, an eminent merchant. For this occupation he was ill adapted, and it received but a small share of his attention. The study of politics was his chief delight, and about this time he formed a club, each member of which agreed to furnish a political essay for a newspaper called the Independent Advertiser. These essays brought the writers into notice, who were called, in derision, “the whipping post club.” His limited knowledge of commerce rendered him incompetent to support himself by that pursuit. His father, however, gave him a considerable capital, with which he com
menced business. He had not been long in trade when he lent one of his countrymen a large sum of money. This person, soon after, met with heavy calamities, which he represented to Mr. Adams, who never demanded the amount, although it was nearly half the value of his original stock. This and other losses soon consumed all he had. At the age of twenty-five, his father died, and as he was the eldest son, the care of the family and management of the estate devolved upon him. Notwithstanding this circumstance, however, he still was unable to resist the strong inclination for political affairs, which he had felt from his earliest youth; and instead of devoting himself to his business, occupied much of his time both in conversation and writing, on the political concerns of the day. He was strongly opposed to governor Shirley, because he thought the union of so much civil and military power in one man, dangerous to the liberties of the province, but he was the friend of his successor Pownall, who assumed the popular side. In 1763, the Massachusetts agent in London transmitted intelligence, that it was contemplated by the ministry, to “tax the colonies for the purpose of raising a revenue, which was to be placed at the disposal of the crown.” This was soon made publicly known, and produced great excitement. It was expected, that governor Bernard would immediately call the Massachusetts house of assembly together, on the reception of this interesting intelligence, and that such instructions would be sent to the agent, as might have a tendency to prevent the contemplated proceedings; but, to the surprise of the public, it was not summoned till the latter end of the year, and no particular notice was taken of the subject. It thus remained till the next election of members to the Massachusetts assembly, in May, 1764. It was then customary for the people to give written instructions, when they elected "their representatives, in which they expressed their views and opinions of public affairs; and for this purpose committees were chosen. On this occasion, Mr. Adams was one of the five, who were selected by the people of Boston. The instructions were written by him, and the manuscript in his own hand-writing is still preserved. His draught was reported, accepted by the town, and at that time published in the Boston Gazette; and, what is the most material fact, it was the first public document which denied the supremacy of the British parliament, and their right to tax the colonists without their own consent; and which contained a direct suggestion of the necessity of a united effort on the part of all the provinces. After alluding to the evils already produced, by the laws which had actually passed, Mr. Adams adds, on behalf of the citizens of Boston, “but our greatest apprehension is, that these proceedings may be preparatory to new taxes: for, if our trade may be taxed, why not our lands : Why not the produce of our lands, and every thing we possess or use 2 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 taxes 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 pro