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Samuel Adams

Important Terms, People, and Events

Plot Overview

Section 1: Sam of the Adams Family

Terms

Castle William  -   · The main fortifications defending Boston from attack, used by Royal officials for safety during the days of Adams's Sons of Liberty. During the Stamp Act crisis, the government moved all stamps and some stamp masters to the fort for safekeeping.
Caucus Club -   · A political alliance of Boston tradesmen and artisans (including Adams) who set the agenda for Boston's annual town meetings and decided who would receive appointments to town offices. Their candidates rarely lost.
Committees of Correspondence -   · Adams organized Committees of Correspondence throughout New England and made up a system of communication between patriot leaders in each town and eventually throughout the colonies. Committees of Correspondence provided the political organization necessary to unite the colonies against Britain.
Country Party -   · The political organization formed by the Adamses as an early forerunner of the Sons of Liberty.
General Court -   · Massachusetts's second-highest governing body. The General Court was the colonial equivalent of the House of Commons.
Great Awakening -   · A Protestant religious revival in the mid-1740s that saw the rise of evangelicalism throughout the colonies.
Intolerable Acts -   · The Intolerable Acts of 1774 were the combination of the four "Coercive Acts" enacted by Parliament in retaliation for the 1773 Boston Tea Party. The announcement of the Intolerable Acts helped spur the convening of the First Continental Congress.
Liberty Tree -   · A large elm tree, at the corner of Essex Street and Orange Street in Boston, that served as the rallying point for the Sons of Liberty in their protests against the Stamp Act.
Nonimportation Agreement  -   · An agreement, pushed by Adams in the wake of the Stamp Act whereby colonies agreed not to import English goods.
Sons of Liberty -   · A secret patriotic society organized in Boston by Adams to oppose the Stamp Act. Other chapters soon followed around the colonies. The Sons of Liberty served as the primary means of communication and organization for the patriotic movement before the war. The Sons of Liberty also served as Adams's enforcers, ensuring adherence to the nonimportation agreements, harassing Royal appointees, and participating in the Boston Tea Party.
Stamp Act -   · The Stamp Act required colonists to buy special watermarked paper for newspapers and all legal documents. The Act marked a departure from Britain's previous policy of not taxing the colonies internally.
Stamp Act Congress -   · In response to the Stamp Actrepresentatives of nine colonial assemblies met in New York City on October 7, 1765. While the colonies reached only broad agreements, it marked the first intercolonial cooperation.
Sugar Act -   · The Sugar Act lowered the duty on foreign-produced molasses from six pence per gallon to three pence per gallon. However, the tax would now be enforced, whereas prior to the act customs officers largely ignored the duty. The act further stipulated that Americans could only export many commodities to foreign countries if they passed through British ports first.
Tory  -   · A British sympathizer or supporter
Townshend Acts -   · The work of Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend, Parliament passed the Revenue Act of 1767 on July 2, 1767. It established taxes on glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea entering the colonies–marking a departure from earlier taxation schemes that had been primarily for regulating trade. The Townshend Acts were unmistakably revenue-generating laws.

People

John Adams -  Samuel Adams's cousin and a strong patriot. John Adams worked with his cousin to organize Boston patriots and wrote most of the Massachusetts Constitution. He helped negotiate the peace treaty ending the Revolutionary War and later served as the second president of the United States.
Francis Bernard -  Royally-appointed governor of Massachusetts in the early days of Adams's protests. Sided with Thomas Hutchinson early in his term but was forced out of his post by Adams's men after the Stamp Act crisis.
John Hancock -  Longtime friend of Adams's and a strong patriot. Adams and Hancock split over Adams's reluctant backing of George Washington as army commander. They later reunited to fight against the adoption of the Constitution.
Thomas Hutchinson -  Adam's long-time opponent in Boston politics and one of the strongest Tories in the colony. Hutchinson served as chief justice of the supreme judicial court, as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts during the Stamp Act crisis, and finally, as the royal governor of Massachusetts.
James Otis -  A close friend and legislative ally of Adams's. Otis was a strong patriot, but as the Stamp Act crisis passed, Otis fell out of favor with the patriots.
Thomas Pownall -  Benevolent governor of Massachusetts. Pownall urged Britain to reconcile with the colonists.
Charles Townshend  -  Townshend was the Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister William Pitt and was best known for his controversial Townshend Acts, also known as the Revenue Acts of 1767.

Events

Boston Massacre -  The Boston Massacre began innocently with boys throwing snowballs at a British sentry on March 5, 1770. However, thanks to much agitation by Adams's men in the days prior to the incident, a large crowd soon formed outside the guardhouse, and more British soldiers reinforced the sentry. When a British officer tried to disperse the crowd, he and his men were bombarded with rocks and dared to shoot by the unruly mob. After being knocked to the ground, one soldier finally did shoot, and others followed. Five civilians were killed in the gunfire. All but two of the soldiers were later acquitted of any wrongdoing.
Boston Tea Party -  In protest of the Tea Act–which would allow Britain to use the profits from selling tea to pay the salaries of royal governors–Adams orchestrated a stalemate where several tea ships were stalled in Boston harbor, unable to offload their tea because of threats by the Sons of Liberty. However, the ships could not return to England without paying duty on the shipment. On December 16, 1773, the night before customs agents were to seize the tea, Adams gathered Boston residents and warned them of the consequences of the Tea Act. After the meeting, several hundred Sons of Liberty dressed as Native Americans boarded the ships and dumped nearly three-hundred boxes of high-quality tea into the harbor–thereby ending the stalemate and enraging the British.

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