Despite popular historical accounts, he never rode hundreds of miles through New England shouting "the British are coming," but his acts in secret, and in public, did do a great deal to promote the American Revolutionary cause. Although little is known about William Mackay, history has preserved the fact that he was a Bostonian merchant strongly affected by the implementation of the Stamp Act of , and worked as a Son of Liberty to promote the Revolution. A lawyer and member of the Massachusetts provincial assembly, James Otis, Jr.
He is famous for coining the phrase, "taxation without representation is tyranny," which would go on to become an anthem for patriot opposition to the crown. As a lawyer, Otis became enraged by British imposed "writs of assistance" which permitted British authorities to enter the house of a colonist without notice or probable cause. In response these writs, Otis gave a number of speeches speaking out against British exploitation of the colonists, and his words inspired many people to rise up against the tyranny of the crown.
The founder of Dickinson college in Pennsylvania, signatory to the Declaration of Independence , and Founding Father of the United States, Benjamin Rush is certainly one of the more famous voices of the revolution. Incredibly outspoken, Rush would make many friends, and enemies most notably George Washington, to whom he gave harsh criticism , and his words would effect great movements towards opposition to Great Britain.
Also, Thomas Paine looked to Rush when he was drafting his treatises in favor of the Revolutionary War. A truly learned manRush would join the Medical Committee of the Continental Congress, taking on a more practical role as well as a political one. Nicknamed "King Sears" for his pivotal role in organizing the New York mob, Isaac Sears was a leading member of the Sons of Liberty who leaned predominately towards orchestrating violence and encouraging anti-British demonstration. A prosperous New York City merchant outraged by the Intolerable Acts, Sears was forceful in his opposition to the Stamp Act in particular, using whatever means necessary to dissuade the use of British stamps in the colonies.
After the Stamp Act was finally repealed, he erected a number of liberty poles and broadsides large sheets of paper printed on one side only , signed "the Mohawks," warning that action would be taken against anyone supporting any of the Intolerable Acts.
He would eventually become the stand in commander of New York City until Washington arrived to relieve him in Sympathetic to the American cause, Solomon joined the New York branch of the Sons of Liberty and was arrested as a spy in After eighteen months of torture aboard the British vessel, he was released under the stipulation that he would remain as an interpreter for British-commissioned mercenaries. While involved in this forced employment, Solomon helped many American prisoners escape their confinement and encouraged the mercenaries to join the Americans.
Born in Scotland, James Swan moved to American colonies in the late s where he spent his youth as a shop clerk in Boston. As time went by, he became increasingly interested in the American Revolutionary effort and joined leagues with the Sons of Liberty. As a writer, he published many tracts and articles in opposition to the British crown.
Wealthy before the war, he financed Revolutionary efforts until he came to ruin in the early s. As secretary to the Continental Congress for fifteen years, Thomson was able to be directly involved in foreign affairs. Yet, he was a fiery individual who had many enemies. Famously, one James Searle attacked Thomson on the floor of Congress over a supposed misquotation, and the ensuing cane fight ended with both men being cut in the face.
As consequence for his courage, the British made an example of Young, punishing him to such severity that he nearly died. Equal parts military man and cabinet maker, Marinus Willett had a reputation for street brawling and reckless behavior. He became a leading member of the New York faction of the Sons of Liberty, organizing surprise movements against the British.
Most notably, in , he assembled a small band of men, commandeered a British sloop, and captured a protected British storehouse in Turtle Bay. A signatory to the United States Declaration of Independence as well as the Articles of Confederation , Wolcott had a minor role in the Sons of Liberty and would go on to become the fourth Governor of Connecticut. One of his major acts for the Revolutionary cause was in erecting a shed on his country estate in Litchfield and, with help from his neighbors, casted more than 40, bullets. Call to order: or order pocket constitution books online.
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Samuel Adams, Revolutionary Activist and Philosopher
Paul Revere. Alexander McDougall. Benjamin Rush. Haym Solomon. The Adams family were devout Puritans , and Adams Sr. While at Harvard, he wrote a thesis — controversial for its time — that questioned the rights of the British government and supported the right of colonists to resist laws they deemed harmful to their interests.
He married the following year, to Elizabeth Checkley. The couple had six children, but only two lived to adulthood. He and his second wife, Elizabeth Wells, had no children. Rising through the ranks of local Boston politics, in , Adams was elected as a tax collector. However, his failure and refusal to collect taxes from some of his fellow citizens left him liable for the due payments.
Friends eventually helped him pay off some of the debts.
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Already, he was showing the strong sense of character that drew people to both him and his ideas. Years before many of their fellow Revolutionaries, Adams, Otis and others from Massachusetts were openly challenging British control. Just as Adams was emerging as a powerful and persuasive critic, the British passed a series of laws that he used to his advantage. The Sugar Act was an attempt to protect the British trade in sugar and molasses by curtailing illegal importation, which affected the revenue that was needed to pay for the French and Indian War.
The Sugar Act only impacted a few colonies, but Massachusetts was one of them. Adams brought heightened attention to the act by leading local opposition to it. The following year, the Stamp Act was passed. This was a more direct tax that impacted the everyday life of nearly every colonist, slapping a levy on everything from newspapers and legal documents to playing cards and school diplomas.
The Stamp Act was deeply unpopular across the colonies.
Adams and other Boston-based patriots, including a radical, secretive group known as the Loyal Nine — a precursor to the Sons of Liberty — organized direct action, leading to the Stamp Act Riots. The British Parliament repealed the act the following year. During this period, Adams was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives , where he worked alongside John Hancock and others. In , Britain passed the Townshend Acts , a series of measures that taxed imported goods. Adams again led the opposition, working on a direct appeal to King George III , which became known as the Massachusetts Circular Letter, and calling for the removal of the Massachusetts colonial governor.
With unrest in Boston growing, including physical attacks on tax collectors, British troops were sent to the city to quell dissent. Adams once again used this to his advantage, publicizing any misdeeds by the new occupying troops, including the notorious Boston Massacre of In the fall of , Adams, Otis and Dr.
Joseph Warren were among those who created a new Committee of Correspondence. The group was designed to foster communication between patriots throughout Massachusetts.
The idea quickly spread, and within months similar committees were established throughout the 13 colonies, uniting colonial resistance leaders for the first time. While Adams himself did not participate in the legendary Boston Tea Party , he likely was one of the driving forces behind it. Following the repeal of the Townshend Acts, Britain announced plans for a new tax. Like the Sugar Act, the new Tea Act aimed to raise revenue and prevent the smuggling of non-English tea into the colonies. But on the night of December 16, , members of the Sons of Liberty boarded the ships, tossing the tea overboard.
In response to the Boston Tea Party, Britain passed the Intolerable Acts, which closed the port of Boston and required all colonists to provide accommodation for British troops.
Samuel Adams: A Life
Once again, Adams led the opposition in Massachusetts. Adams called for independence, and the Congress agreed to boycott British goods until the repeal of the Intolerable Acts. Back in Massachusetts where he was serving in the House of Representatives and beginning to arm a military, Adams and Hancock fled from Boston to the safety of nearby Concord. Adams returned to the Continental Congress, where he and cousin John continued to call for independence.
Related Revolutionary Cousins: The Lives and Legacies of Samuel and John Adams
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