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disorders which followed, and personally aided the civil power to put a stop to them.
The taxes upon tea, oil, and colours, were still more odious to the Americans than the stamp act; especially to the inhabitants of Boston, where the board of commissioners was established. The people looked to Mr. Adams as one of the champions of liberty, who must stand forth against every claim of Great Britain, and deny the right of the parent state to lay a tax; nor were they disappointed. He was so strenuous in his exertions to make the people sensible of their charter privileges, that he obtained the appellation of the patriot Samuel Adams.
In 1765, he was elected a member of the general assembly of Massachusetts. He was soon chosen clerk, and he gradually acquired influence in the legislature. This was an eventful time. But Mr. Adams possessed a courage which no dangers could shake. He was undismayed by the prospect, which struck terror into the hearts of many. He was a member of the legislature near ten years, and he was the soul which animated it to the most important resolutions. No man did so much. He pressed his measures with ardour; yet he was prudent; he knew how to bend the passions of others to his purpose.
The congress which assembled at New York, at this period, was attributed to a suggestion made by Mr. Adams. It has been said, with confidence, that he was the first man who proposed it in Massachusetts.
In consequence of the act imposing duties, in 1767, Mr. Adams suggested a non-importation agreement with the merchants. This was agreed to, and signed by nearly all of them in the province. They bound themselves, if the duties were not repealed, not to import, or to order any, but certain enumerated articles, after the first of Jannary, 1769.
On the evening of the fifth of March, 1770, an affray took place between the military quartered in Boston, and some citizens, which resulted in a loss of lives 'on both sides. On the following morning, a public meeting was called, and Samuel Adams addressed the assembly, with that impressive eloquence which was so peculiar to himself. The people, on this occasion, chose a committee to wait upon the licutenant governor, to require that the troops be immediately withdrawn from the town. The mission, however, proved unsuccessful, and another resolution was immediately adopted, that a new committee be chosen to wait a second time upon governor Hutchinson, for the purpose of conveying the sense of the meeting in a more peremptory manner. Mr. Adams acted as chairman. They waited on the lieutenant governor, and communicated this last vote of the town; and, in a speech of some length, Mr. Adams stated the danger of keeping the troops longer in the capital, fully proving the illegality of the act it-self; and enumerating the fatal consequences that would ensue, if he refused an immediate compliance with the vote. Lieutenant governor Hutchinson, with his usual prevarication, replied, and foundly asserted, that there was no illegality in the measure; and repeated, that the troops were not subject to his authority, but that he would direct the removal of the twenty-ninth regiment.Mr. Adams again rose. The magnitude of the subject, and the manner in which it was treated by lieutenant governor Hutchinson, had now roused the impetuous feelings of his patriotic soul. With indignation strongly expressed in his countenance, and in a firm, resolute, and commanding manner, he replied, "that it was well known, that, acting as governor of the province, he was, by its charter, the commander in chief of his majesty's military and naval forces, and as such, the troops
were subject to his orders; and if he had the power to remove one regiment, he had the power to remove both, and nothing short of this would satisfy the people, and it was at his peril, if the vote of the town was not immediately complied with, and if it be longer delayed, he, alone, must be answerable for the fatal consequences that would ensue. This produced a momentary silence. It was now dark, and the people were waiting in anxious suspense for the report of the committee. A conference in whispers followed between lieutenant governor Hutchinson and colonel Dalrymple. The former, finding himself so closely pressed, and the fallacy and absurdity of his arguments thus glaringly exposed, yielded up his positions, and gave his consent to the removal of both regiments; and colonel Dalrymple pledged his word of honour, that he would begin his preparations in the morning, and that there should be no unnecessary delay, until the whole of both regiments were removed to the castle.
At a very early period of the controversy between the mother country and the colonies, Mr. Adams was impressed with the importance of establishing committees of correspondence. In 1766, he made some suggestions on this subject in a letter to a friend in South Carolina ; but it was found to be either impracticable or inexpedient before the year 1772, when it was first adopted by Massachusetts, on a motion of Mr. Adams at a public town meeting in Boston. This plan was followed by all the provinces. Mr. Adams's private letters may have advanced this important work. In a letter to Richard Henry Lee, Esq. of Virginia, which, unfortunately, is without a date, is the following remark : " I would propose it for your consideration, whether the establishment of committees of correspondence among the several towns in every colony, would not tend to promote the general union upon which the security of the whole depends." It will be remembered that the resolutions for the establishment of this institution in Virginia, were passed March 12, 1773, which was more than four months subsequently to the time it had been formed in Boston.
Every method had been tried to induce Mr. Adams to abandon the cause of his country, which he had supported with so much zeal, courage, and ability. Threats and caresses had proved equally unavailing. Prior to this time there is no certain proof that any direct attempt was made upon his virtue and integrity, although a report had been publicly and freely circulated, that it had been unsuccessfully tried by governor Bernard. Hutchinson knew him too well to make the attempt. But governor Gage was empowered to make the experiment. He sent to him a confidential and verbal message by colonel Fenton, who waited upon Mr. Adams, and after the customary salutations, he stated the object of his visit. He said that an adjustment of the disputes which existed between England and the colonies, and a reconciliation, was very desirable, as well as important to the interests of both. That he was authorized from govenor Gage to assure him, that he had been empowered to confer upon him such benefits as would be satisfactory, upon the condition, that he would engage to cease in his opposition to the ineasures of government. He also observed, that it was the advice of governor Gage, to him, not to incur the further displeasure of his inajesty; that his conduct had been such as made him liable to the penalties of an act of Henry VIII. by which persons could be sent to England for trial of treason, or misprison of treason, at the discretion of a governor of a province, but by changing his political course, he would not only receive great personal advantages, but would thereby make his peace with the king. Mr. Adams listened with apparent interest to this recital. He asked colonel Fenton if he would truly deliver his reply as it should be given. After some hesitation he assented. Mr. Adams required his word of honour, which he pledged.
Then rising from his chair, and assuming a determined manner, he replied, “I trust I have long since made MY PEACE WITH THE KING OF KINGS. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country. Tell governor Gage, IT IS THE ADVICE OF SAMUEL ADAMS TO HIM, no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated people.
With a full sense of his own perilous situation, marked out an object of ministerial vengeance, labouring under severe pecuniary embarrassment, but fearless of consequences, he steadily pursued the great object of his soul, the liberty of the people.
The time required bold and inflexible measureş. Common distress required common counsel. The aspect was appalling to some of the most decided patriots of the day. The severity of punishment which was inflicted on the people of Boston, by the power of England, produced a melancholy sadness on the friends of American freedom. The Massachusetts house of Assembly was then in session at Salem. A committee of that body was chosen to consider and report the state of the province. Mr. Adams, it is said, observed, that some of the committee were for mild measures, which he judged no way suited to the present emergency. He conferred with Mr. Warren, of Plymouth, upon the necessity of spirited measures, and then said, “do you keep the committee in play, and I will go and make a caucus by the time the evening arrives, and do you meet me." Mr. Adams secured a meeting of about five principal members of