October 2 - John Adams on Samuel Adams
(& not the Beer) 

October 2 - John Adams on Samuel Adams
(& not the Beer) 

"Without the character of Samuel Adams the true history of the American Revolution can never be written;"

to William Tudor, Sr., June 17, 1817

John and Samuel Adams were nearly thirteen years apart, and second cousins. And while not the closest of relatives, or dearest of friends, they certainly followed some similar paths: Harvard graduates, members of Congress, public servants - and not exactly well-remembered. 

More from John Adams:

The Adams cousins took on Independence in different ways. 

Samuel Adams was a strong member of the Sons of Liberty, credited with bringing rival groups together in common support of natural rights. 

John went about things more by the letter of the law, writing dissenting papers (Braintree Instructions, opposing the Stamp Act) and protecting America's sense of justice by defending British soldiers of the Boston Massacre.

Samuel wrote (Massachusetts Circular Letter), but he primarily called people of Massachusetts to action, through civil (and sometimes less civil) disobedience.

Cousin John was a son of Liberty in the more general sense, but not an active participant in the more canonical moments like the dumping of East India tea into Boston Harbor.

John Adams was a catalyst for Independence, as was cousin Samuel - though only slightly slower to the cause. Strangely, Samuel and John seemed to switch speeds between 1765 and 1776. John had to persuade Samuel to back his nomination of George Washington to command the Continental Army.

They both strove to protect liberty and natural rights - and often times behind the scenes. They knew that Independence had to be more than New England's concern, and that meant bringing others to the fore and onto the American stage. Perhaps that is why they were both well-spoken of in their lifetime, but quickly went into the shadows of American history.  It took decades before their names were better remembered - although sometimes incorrectly. 

For the record, Samuel Adams was not a brewer - he was a maltster: germinating the grains for others to make beer. He spent more time as governor of Massachusetts - but that is certainly less remembered.

But his cousin John remembered - perhaps because he understood the potential to be forgotten. I'll close with his words of tribute to his cousin.

John ​Adams

to William Tudor, Sr., June 17, 1817

 I shall not attempt, even to draw the outlines of the biography of Mr Samuel Adams—Who can attempt it?

 Without the character of Samuel Adams the true history of the American Revolution can never be written; for fifty years, his pen, his tongue, his activity were constantly exerted for his Country without fee or reward.

About the Author

The "founding father" of Historic Experience. Peyton is an actor-historian with over 15 years experience as a John Adams and Theodore Roosevelt interpreter, impersonator, speaker, or whatever descriptor speaks to you. Peyton Dixon is based in central New Jersey and travels across the country bringing American history to life.