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Who Is Samuel Adams?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: Michael Flippo, Magmarcz, City Of Boston Archives, Mdbrockmann82
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2016
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Samuel Adams was one of the founding fathers of the United States of America; he was a politician who lived from 1722 until 1803, and he was one of the first people in the colonies to argue for independence from Great Britain. Samuel Adams was also a member of the Continental Congress, which was a body of politicians from each of the colonies who debated and eventually sought out independence. He was an architect of the Articles of Confederation, and he helped convince the Congress to draft and approve the Declaration of Independence.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Samuel Adams was born into a politically active family that included his second cousin, John Adams, who would later become the second President of the United States. Samuel Adams would himself become governor of Massachusetts after the Revolutionary War, in which the colonies fought for independence from the British. As a young man, Adams was well educated and initially spent some time trying his hand as a businessman. He had no knack for it, and he lost a significant amount of money after opening his own business. When that business failed, his father brought him to work at a malthouse that made malt used in brewing beer. Adams's image is still used by beer companies in modern times, though he himself never brewed beer.

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Though the extent of his involvement in the event is still disputed, Samuel Adams was a proponent and defendant of the Boston Tea Party. This event was in response to new taxes imposed by Great Britain on tea sent to the colonies; Adams was a vocal opponent of this new tax because it implied that Great Britain had the right to impose taxes on the colonies without any colonial representation in Parliament. While Adams may or may not have been present at the actual event, in which several men dumped chests of tea into the harbor, he defended the event and used it as a way to convince others for independence.

Adams was a member of the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation, which was a document that stressed the sovereignty of the colonies, and it became the precursor to the current American Constitution. He was active in Congress until the 1780s, when his health forced him to return to Massachusetts. He remained involved in Massachusetts politics over the course of the next 20 years until his death.

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