Adams, Americans, Beer and History
I have always found it interesting and a little amusing (in a sad way) that when Samuel Adams is mentioned many Americans think of beer first and the Revolution second. And as a student of mine once said in a class, “He made great beer.”
To be honest the beer is quite good… I enjoy it, but why would we today not remember someone who many historians consider to be the “Father” of the American Revolution? When the Revolution is brought up most remember some of the more famous founding fathers such as John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams… the list goes on.
Sam Adams was probably the man most singly responsible for shaping the events that took place on April 19th, 1775. He was the first who recognized that liberty for the colonies meant a break from the mother country and a break meant a fight. He well knew Englandwould not idly give up her possessions and Sam set about working toward his vision of liberty.
Many have branded him as a man who was a wild radical stirring up the mob and relying upon mass violence to achieve his ends, however this is far from a true characterization of Adams. He was definitely involved with the mob to achieve his ends, however he was more than that… and was clearly a tireless political advocate and worker. He seems to have displayed a deep intuitive understanding of others’ motivations and he was not afraid of allowing others to take credit for his inspiration or ideas thinking that his ideas were theirs. He was a brilliant manager, motivator and promoter. He made himself available to attend meetings, rallies day or night… rain, sleet, ice or snow. He wrote highly thoughtful articles, letters, petitions and pamphlets based upon heavily reasoned arguments in favor of his chief cause… liberty. His readers were literate… educated… many incredibly well read or self-educated and his writing enticed the interest and attention of the likes of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Payne, Benjamin Rush and many others. Thomas Jefferson aptly named Adams… quote “the Patriarch of Liberty!”
Sam directly organized committees of correspondence throughout the province and other colonies to collaborate and share information and this alone allowed many people from distant and disparate colonies to really share information and communicate for the first time. Up until this point many people’s world revolved around their little community, some isolated and or insulated from the outside world others not. These committees of correspondence began many Americans thinking about more than just their community or state identity. An idea slowly began coalescing that they were in the same boat together… they were not just New Yorkers, of Virginians, New Englanders, etc… but Americans. Without Sam this may not have been possible. Of course a portion of the population disagreed and hence the reason why the American War of Independencewas really a terrible and brutal civil war.
Today, unlike many of the founding fathers we Americans have come to honor… Sam Adams in a way slipped off into obscurity. We do not think of him as one of the principal leaders who brought about the revolution. I think it is sad that Paul Revere is more recognized than Sam Adams and today we associate beer with him or think of his better known cousin John, when all along it was Sam Adams working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring about liberty. How did this happen? How could we Americans forget someone so pivotal? The answer in my mind is very simple. When many other founding fathers wrote their memoirs Sam chose not to write his. He simply did not consider it important. Sam seems to have cared more for liberty than history’s judgment and as a result he slipped off into the mists of history… and 226 years later… we Americans enjoy the beer named in his honor, many not realizing or even recognizing the liberty and freedom they enjoy today can be traced directly to ‘his’ tireless work and effort to bring 13 disparate and unique colonies to a common purpose and revolution.
So on this April 19th, 2011… give Sam some thought and a word of thanks. Also, if you are a beer drinker have a beer in his honor.