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Posts Tagged ‘Samuel Adams’

 

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Sam leaned in close toward the center of the table, in order to be heard over the rowdy group nearby. In spite of the noise, the Green Dragon Tavern was a perfect place for Sam and his comrades to meet. No one paid much attention to them or their topic of conversation: resisting British tyranny.

“What we need,” Sam announced firmly but quietly, “are committees of correspondence in every town of Massachusetts, ready to pass on communication quickly from one to another, keep each other informed, and coordinate our efforts—in spite of the Brits’ nosy presence.”

Others at the table nodded in agreement. Almost all Bostonians longed for the removal of British soldiers, encamped in their harbor town since 1768. The men at table with Sam weren’t surprised by his idea for subterfuge. For eight years he had been writing newspaper articles in criticism of Britain’s oppressive policies and harsh taxation of the colonists.

Now it was 1772.  Samuel Adams and many others felt the colonies had endured enough. It was time for action. He began to organize Committees of Correspondence in Massachusetts, and soon more than 300 developed throughout the colonies.

Sam also helped organize protests and boycotts. The most famous was the Boston Tea Party of 1773. He led fifty-some patriots to dump tea into the harbor, thus avoiding the high import duties, and sending Britain a clear message.

 

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In 1774, Samuel Adams represented Massachusetts in the First Continental Congress. Their objective: to determine how best to deal with their grievances against Britain. The delegates readily agreed their first course of action should be prayer, but a disagreement ensued. Which clergyman from which denomination should be invited?

Samuel Adams told the congress he was “no bigot and could hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend of his country (1).” He nominated an Episcopalian clergyman, Mr. Duche. Sam did not know him, but the minister had been highly recommended. The motion passed.

From communicator to leader to unifier, Samuel Adams distinguished himself as a worthy patriot for the history books. But his character out shown his considerable abilities.

 

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Sam’s distinguishing traits included:

  • Courage.  He continually spoke out against the British crown. At least once, Sam narrowly escaped capture. In 1776, Adams (and fifty-five others) signed the Declaration of Independence. They knew it could likely be their death warrants. For some, it was.
  • “Incorruptible Integrity” (as described by one biographer (2).  For the eight years Sam served in the Continental Congress, he was known for his stamina, realism, and commitment, working tirelessly on numerous committees.
  • Wisdom.  Adams knew that devotion to God would strengthen the new nation (Proverbs 14:34). “Communities are dealt with in this world by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe,” Sam wrote in 1776. “He rewards or punishes them according to their general character (3).”

Samuel Adams was indeed a man of strong Christian faith, evidenced frequently in his writings:

“The name of the Lord (says the Scripture) is a strong tower; thither the righteous flee and are safe (Proverbs 18:10). Let us secure His favor and He will lead us through the journey of this life and at length receive us to a better (4).

 

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Following the signing of the Declaration, Sam said, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come (5).

In his last will and testament Sam wrote: “I…[rely] on the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins (6).”

He was also a visionary, speaking wisdom for the generations to come. His statements ring true today, especially as we approach our presidential election:

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that…he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country” (7).

 

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“He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard of his country…The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men” (8).

“Those who are to have a share in making as well as in judging and executing the laws should be men of singular wisdom and integrity” (9).

Samuel Adams:  Born 294 years ago tomorrow, on September 27, 1722–a man who lived what he believed.

Lord, help me to do the same.  And may I remember:

The privilege to vote is a solemn trust for which I am accountable to God.

 

Notes:

  1. http://www.renewamerica.com, “Continental Congress:  America Founded on Prayer,” Brian Fischer, May 2, 2007.
  2. http://www.belcherfoundation, “Samuel Adams.”
  3. From a letter to John Scollay, April 30, 1776.
  4. http://www.usa.church.
  5. http://www.faithofourfathers.net
  6. Founders’ Bible, ed. Brad Cummings & Lance Wubbels, p. 1732.
  7. From an article in the Boston Gazette, April 2, 1781.
  8. From The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry A. Cushing, 1907.
  9. From the Boston Gazette article, April 2, 1781.

Sources:

  1. http://www.belcherfoundation.org
  2. http://www.christianitytoday.com
  3. Founders’ Bible, Shiloh Road Publishers
  4. http://www.history.com
  5. http://www.notablebiographies.com

Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.history.com; http://www.pinterest (2).

 

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“The whole meaning of history is in the proof that there have lived people before the present time whom it is important to meet” (Eugene Rosenstock Huessey, Speech and Reality, p. 167).

The forefathers of our nation are among them…

 

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(January 23, 1737-October 8, 1793)

 

For John Hancock, it was the last straw.

The Stamp Act of 1765 was bad enough, requiring printed materials in America to carry a special stamp, and the obligatory fees sent to England. In the 160-year history of the colonies, Americans had only paid taxes to their colonial governments.

And although the Stamp Act had been repealed, it was replaced with a more detrimental decree: The Declaratory Act of 1766, which proclaimed Britain’s absolute authority over the American colonies.

Then came the Townshend Revenue Acts of 1767, taxing the colonists further.

No wonder they took up the cry, “No taxation without representation.”

Now it was 1768. Customs officials had just confiscated John Hancock’s sloop, Liberty, in the Boston Harbor. They claimed it was being used to transport contraband goods.

And that was the last straw. Hancock had reached the end of his tolerance for sovereign British rule. He and politician, Samuel Adams began orchestrating demonstrations and rallies. They also spread the ideal of liberty to other locales.

Meanwhile, British reinforcements were sent to Boston—an occupation that would last eight years.

 

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In 1770, British soldiers shot into an unarmed crowd, killing five Bostonians and wounding others. The horrific event became known as the Boston Massacre.

For a number of years, that day, March 5, was memorialized in the city. Hancock was asked to speak in 1774. In his speech he said:

“Let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great Lord of the Universe (Psalm 37:5), who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity (Hebrews 1:9)…Let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him Who raiseth up and pulleth down the empires and kingdoms of the world as He pleases (Daniel 2:21).”

Then he quoted Habakkuk 3:17-18, reminding Bostonians that no matter what happened as the conflict continued, or how desperate circumstances might become, “yet we will rejoice in the Lord” (1).

So many scriptures brought together in one brief paragraph give indication of the strong Christian faith John Hancock embraced.

Also in the early 1770s, Hancock, Adams, and several dozen others “hosted” the Boston Tea Party. They dumped 342 chests of tea into the harbor rather than pay import duties to Britain.

 

The Boston Tea Party, 1773 Painting; The Boston Tea Party, 1773 Art Print for sale

 

In 1774, Hancock and Adams were elected to the Provincial Congress at Concord, Massachusetts. John was elected president and presided over the Committee of Safety. He and others organized the minutemen, colonial militia who could be ready in a minute to oppose the British.

April 19, 1775, seven hundred British soldiers were sent to Concord to confiscate military supplies and capture Hancock and Adams. Thanks to the warning of Paul Revere, the two men were able to escape.

At nearby Lexington, British soldiers and minutemen engaged in a skirmish, and the Revolutionary War began with the “shot heard round the world.”

Just four days before, John Hancock had written:

“All confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that GOD who rules in the armies of heaven, and without whose blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness—and all created power vanity (2)”.

Hancock knew that all their efforts toward freedom were in vain if God was not on their side.

That summer he represented Massachusetts at the Continental Congress held in Philadelphia, to discuss ways of restoring harmony with Britain, yet establish rights and liberties for the colonists. Independence wasn’t on the table – yet.

 

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But 1776 brought Thomas Paine’s famous pamphlet, “Common Sense.” American patriotism grew strong, and Congress passed a resolution calling on “the aid of God in the moral cause for independence.” They encouraged fasting and prayer throughout the colonies, and “through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness” (3).

That’s how deep and wide the Christian faith permeated American society.

Of course, the most important resolution of the Continental Congress, under Hancock’s presidency, was the Declaration of Independence, severing all ties to Britain. And, as most U.S. history students know, he was the first to sign in his distinctive script.

 

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For almost two and a half years, Hancock tirelessly presided over the Congress, as the war escalated, and the delegates hammered out the first constitution, the Articles of Confederation.

At least four times they had to flee for their lives to other colonies in order to continue their work. In addition, long debates and political rifts took their toll on the delegates, including John Hancock. He also suffered from gout.

When Congress had completed the Articles, Hancock resigned the presidency, but continued public service in Massachusetts, assisting in the formation of the state constitution (4). He and other delegates included this requirement:

“Any person chosen governor, lieutenant governor, counselor, senator, or representative…shall…make and subscribe the following declaration: ‘I, ______________, do declare that I believe the Christian religion and have a firm persuasion of its truth” (5).

I wonder what our institutions of government would look like today if that affirmation were still required.

John Hancock, first governor of Massachusetts, became one of the first to sign that statement of faith. He served eleven years before his death in 1793, at age fifty-five.

Revisionists want to remove from the historical record any mention of God, Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible. But Hancock and many other founding fathers knew: “Without God’s blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness.”

We had better know that, too.

 

Citations and Notes:

  1. The Founders’ Bible, p. 1374
  2. faithofourfathers.net
  3. johnhancock.org
  4. The only constitution in the world still in use today and older than the U. S. Constitution
  5. The Founders’ Bible, p. 2097

Sources:

  1. acheritagegroup.org
  2. biography.com
  3. The Founders’ Bible
  4. faithofourfathers.net
  5. johnhancock.org
  6. ushistory.org

Art & photo credits:  www.wikipedia.org; http://www.allthingsliberty.com; http://www.paintingandframe.com; http://www.history.com; http://www.plannersweb.com.

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