Samuel Adams Heritage Society

A Politician in Massachusetts

Samuel Adams strongly believed that Republican leaders had to promote virtue and values and it became his political agenda as a politician in Massachusetts. In his address to the Massachusetts legislature in 1795 when he was governor of the state he clearly addressed this issue. He worked hard during the rest of his political career to achieve this objective. He intertwined religion and politics and became known as “The last Puritan”. This solid religion obsession coupled with his more than ordinary inflexibility earned him many enemies in the following years starting with his former protégée John Hancock with whom he reconciled years later. When Hancock run for governor of Massachusetts SA did not support him, instead he supported James Bowdoin.

In 1781 Samuel Adams retired from the Continental Congress and moved back to Boston where he spent the rest of his life. Tremors in his hands and poor health made him decide he wanted to spend more time with his family in his hometown.

SA could not stay away from politics and was elected to the convention to form the state’s constitution and later as president of the Massachusetts Senate. In 1788 Sam Adams formed part of the Massachusetts ratifying convention of the newly written articles that created the new Constitution. Even though he had some reservations – you can read in his own words in a letter addressed to Richard Henry Lee - he supported the new Constitution that was ratified later that year. In his speech to the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention that that took place in February 1788 he affirms his support for the new constitution but argues that amendments would have to be made in order to limit the power of the central government. It was at this time that his only son, Samuel Adams Jr. died at age thirty-seven. He served as a surgeon during the independence war, his death gave Adams and his wife unexpected financial security.

Due to his disagreement with the new Constitution SA attempted to reenter national politics and run as a candidate for the US House of Representatives. He was defeated by Fisher Ames who was a supporter of the Constitution. Adams continued working on amendments and in 1791 the Bill of Rights was added becoming a supporter of the Constitution.

In 1789, SA was elected lieutenant governor until 1794. After the death of John Hancock, SA was elected governor and re-elected for four consecutive years.
In 1797 he retired from politics unable to write due to tremors in his hands. He died in Boston on October 2, 1803 at age 81 and is buried at the Old Granary Burying Ground.


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