Samuel Adams Heritage Society

Famous Documents and Speeches

Instructions to Boston’s Representatives - 1764

The Sugar Act passed in 1764 was the first attempt to tax the colonies. It would have passed unnoticed had it not been for Samuel Adams who saw it as an infringement on their rights and liberties. Adams gained the support of the Massachusetts Assembly by stating valid arguments against Britain’s tax policies on the colony and the need for legal representation to avoid becoming tributary slaves; he was the embodiment of opposition to “no taxation without representation.”

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Declaration of Rights of the Stamp Act Congress - 1765

In order to alleviate the budget deficit incurred by protecting the colony during the French Indian war, the Crown imposed a direct tax on its residents, the Stamp Act of 1765. This tax required that all residents paid tax on all printed material. Residents reacted by joining forces creating interest and political groups such as the Sons of Liberty and protesting against taxation without representation. This movement led to the Stamp Act Congress, a first major victory in the fight for independence which led to the First Continental Congress.

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Article in the Boston Gazette – October 1768

Article written in the Boston Gazette by Samuel Adams protesting the imposition of the Quartering Act in which residents were obliged to provide billeting to the King’s troops. Sam makes the point that military power undermines civil government and that they are not governed by the same law.

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Boston non-importation agreement - 1768

As a reaction to the Townshend Acts merchants in Boston organized a non-importation agreement in 1768 by which they would not import certain goods from Britain until the tax imposed on them was repealed. Some essential products such as salt, coals, fish hooks and lines, hemp, and duck were exempt from the agreement. Soon New York and Philadelphia joined the boycott but not in enough numbers decreasing its effectiveness. During the three year period of the non-importation agreement imports from Britain decreased by 38%. By 1771 it came to an end failing to achieve its purpose.

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“Candidus” - 1771

Article written by Samuel Adams and signed “Candidus”. It was published in the Boston Gazette on April 12, 1773. In this letter addressed to Messieurs Edes and Gill he stresses the importance of a successful opposition to the “petty tyrants of this country” by organizing regular Assemblies of the People. In addition he shows his opposition the governor and his dependency on the Crown.

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Resolutions of the Town of Boston - 1773

Published on November 3rd, 1773 the article called for the dissolution of the Tea Act. The Tea Act gave the East Indian Company the monopoly in the importation and distribution of tea in the colony, it also allowed it to tax the commodity. Samuel Adams’ objective was to create enough opposition to prevent the shipment of tea to unload in the Boston Harbor which consequently lead to the Boston Tea Party.

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Letter from Samuel Adams to Arthur Lee, 31 December 1773

Arthur Lee was a supporter of American Independence who wrote numerous political pamphlets that served as propaganda in Europe. He gained support from France and Spain to secure military material for the fight for independence. Samuel wrote this letter to his friend Arthur Lee who resided in Europe. Read in his own words the development of the activities that led to the to the Boston Tea Party incident.

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Samuel Adams to James Warren- 1775

James Warren was the President of the Massachusetts Provincial congress. This letter was written at the beginning of the First Continental Congress. In this letter written Sam Adams stresses the importance of virtue in the government and considers it as the best security the country should have. He also encourages the education system that teaches the principles of morality to preserve public liberty.

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Letter to James Warren (1776)

James Warren was a general in the Massachusetts militia but declined to serve in the Continental Army as he was offered a lower rank. In this letter that Samuel Adams wrote to James Warren during the Second Continental Congress, Sam Adams expressed his concern for the formation of the new military and the danger it posed to the liberties of the people. According to him the danger becomes visible as they consider themselves a body distinct from the rest of the citizens.

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Speech about the Declaration of Independence - 1776

This speech was delivered by Samuel Adams on August 1st, 1776 before the Continental Congress in the State House in Philadelphia. The day after, August 2nd the document of the Declaration of Independence was signed by the members of the Congress. In his speech, Sam Adams stressed the importance of virtue and religion in government and the importance of the Union and the Constitution.

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Letter to Noah Webster (1784)

Sam Adams argues that the congress should support the military and compensate them accordingly, as they have a duty to defend the country against the British invaders. Congress should vote to extend full pay for five years to all military officers.

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Letter to Richard Henry Lee (1787)

Samuel Adams expresses his discontent with the new government and the new Constitution. He believes that the states should be sovereign and each one should have its own legislature and laws instead of one Nation under one legislation controlling all the states. He believes it is dangerous and destructive of the freedom and safety of the Nation.

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Massachusetts Ratifying Convention Speeches (1788)

Adams attended the Massachusetts ratifying Convention between February 1st and 6th, 1788. He supported the new constitution with some reservations; amendments would have to be made to limit the powers of the central government. He believed that all powers not delegated to Congress are reserved to the states and that the constitution should not allow congress to violate the liberties and rights of its citizens.

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Address to the Massachusetts legislature 1795

In 1794 Sam Adams was elected governor of Massachusetts and re-elected for four consecutive years. In the state of the Commonwealth address that he gave in 1795 to the Massachusetts legislature he emphasized the importance of Republican principles such as piety, religion and morality and his commitment to protect the freedom of its citizens and support the authority of the Constitution.

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