Samuel Adams was born on September 27, 1722 in Boston, Massachusetts. As a child, he studied at the Boston Latin School. After graduating, he enrolled in classes at Harvard, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1740. After graduating, he pursued his master's degree, graduating in 1743. The title of his thesis paper was "Whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate if the commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved."
After completing school, Sam and his father started their own brewery as partners. Unfortunately, the brewery was poorly managed and once his father died, most of his inheritance was lost due to debts. In his spare time, Sam began writing political essays that were published in the Independent Advertiser newspaper. He also joined the "Whipping Post Club" and Boston's South End Caucus, which were two important local political organizations.
In 1756, he was appointed as the Boston tax collector and served in the position through 1764. He found that he was able to skip collecting taxes from people in order to get political favors from them. In 1764, he became a fixture at town meetings and organized protests against the Stamp Act.
After being elected to the state legislature, Adams became the clerk of the house. As such, he was responsible for writing protests against oppressive acts passed by the British. When the Townshend Acts were established in 1767, he wrote a strong letter of protest that was circulated throughout the twelve colonies to encourage resistance. When King George III received a copy of the letter, he demanded that the state legislature publicly state that they didn't agree with the letter, but they refused. As a result, he greatly increased the number of British troops stationed in Boston.
To protest the British laws, Adams also started the Non-Importation Association. In 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred and Adams led the creation of a petition to governor Thomas Hutchinson that demanded the removal of the two British regiments from Boston. Hutchinson offered to move one regiment, but Adams and 5,000 other protesters demanded that both be removed. Eventually Hutchinson agreed and relocated the regiments to a fort in Boston Harbor.
In 1772, a British declaration was issued that judges should be paid by the British government rather than colonial legislatures. Despite calls for the act to be reversed, governor Hutchinson refused to hear the complaints and Adams formed a system called Committees of Correspondence. The system allowed for the towns in Massachusetts to send messages to each other regarding political changes. The scheme eventually led to the formation of the Continental Congress.
When the Tea Act was passed by the British, Adams joined forces with William Molineux to plan a protest. On December 16, 1773, they gathered a large crowd of men at night and boarded a ship loaded with tea wearing Indian costumes. One on board, they dumped all of the tea overboard while spectators cheered. The operation became known as the Boston Tea Party and greatly angered the British.
In response, the British Parliament passed the "Intolerable Acts", which sought to dissolve the colonial charter of Massachusetts and proposed closing the Boston Harbor. The colonies hastened their formation of a Continental Congress and Adams led a closed session of the Massachusetts Legislature in which they appointed a delegation to the Congress. Adams also participated in the drafting of the Suffolk Resolves, which called for citizens to disobey the Intolerable Acts and the formation of militias. Adams also proposed a total boycott of British imports to the colonies.
In September of 1774, Adams retired from the state legislature and served as a delegate to the Continental Congress that assembled in Philadelphia. He became a very vocal opponent of British rule and called for a revolution for independence. During the Second Continental Congress, he served on the Board of War and other committees for six years. In 1776, he signed the Declaration of Independence and helped to form the government that was described in the Articles of Confederation. He served in Congress until 1781, when he was elected to the Massachusetts senate and served until 1788.
When the federal constitution was drafted in 1789, Adams was a supporter under the terms that a bill of rights be added. In 1779, he helped to draft the first constitution for the state of Massachusetts and the revision in 1788. In 1789, he was also elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. In 1793, he succeeded John Hancock as Governor and served until 1797.
After retiring, Adams began to suffer from a neurological disease suspected to be Parkinson's disease. He died on October 2, 1803 from natural causes.
"In monarchy the crime of treason may admit of being pardoned or lightly punished, but the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death." - Samuel Adams