Samuel Adams Heritage Society

Pre-Revolution Activities

Townshend Acts

Adams capitalized on his success helping repeal the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act, and in the election of May 1766 he was reelected to the House of Representatives as clerk. At that time he met John Hancock, a wealthy tradesman, who would use his affluence to promote the independence cause.

Britain finally realized that it was time for more decisive policies in the colonies and taxation was still the main goal. The newly appointed British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend sought to restructure the tax duties and made it more difficult to evade them. The lesson learned from the failure of the Stamp Act was that duties had to be shifted back to the trade, instead of unpopular direct taxation of citizens. A series of acts were passed to increase the trade duties and the headquarters of British Customs were established in Boston with added powers to enforce them.

The response from SA was to organize more political and street protests. Under the lead of SA, the Massachusetts House of Representatives wrote a direct protest letter to the king known as the Massachusetts Circular Letter. Circular, because it was meant to circulate or to be distributed among other colonies. He also sent a letter to the King petitioning for Governor Bernard’s resignation.

The reaction from Boston’s merchants was to organize the first Boston non-importation agreement, which called for merchants to stop importing certain goods from Britain. Soon New York and Philadelphia joined the boycott, but not all merchants participated and the boycott came to an end without the effectiveness that was initially expected.

On the streets, the Sons of Liberty were stirring up the colonial population to sabotage collection of tax duties and directly attacking the tax collectors. The tensions escalated to a point when it was clear for Britain that sending troops to Boston was the only remaining option. On June 10, 1768 a street riot that occurred in Boston was the last drop for this decision. Unfortunately for the British the news about two regiments being sent to Boston somehow spread in the city. Faced with the threat of the military enforcement of the British rule in Boston SA and the Sons of Liberty were quick to organize the protests. He probably well realized that such protest will not be answered and was hoping to create an outright riot situation. Although his first step was to protest the arrival of the troops in the town meeting where he opposed faced to face with the Governor Bernard. The next step was calling for a colony-wide convention that would openly declare the British troops to be invaders. However such plans fell short and the convention failed to generate much of political and even popular support. This was one of his biggest setbacks and British troops arrived in Boston practically unchallenged.

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Early Career

Townshend Acts

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Boston Massacre

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