Case Study



Boston Tea Party Historical Society

Samuel Adams Biography


Samuel Adams was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the son of a prominent landowner and brewer, and cousin and political mentor of John Adams. He studied at Harvard College and received his degree in 1743.

Following college he began the study of law, but soon gave in to family pressures and took a position as a clerk in the counting house of Thomas Cushing, one of the colony's leading merchants. Adams was not a success in business and worked for Cushing only a short time before beginning his own short-lived venture. In spite of his lack of success at business (failing as a brewer and tax collector and wasting an inheritance), Adams displayed true genius in politics.

In 1765, Adams was elected to the General Court (legislature) of Massachusetts, representing the town of Boston. His abilities were recognized by his fellow legislators and he soon rose to a leadership position. Adams was offered positions by royal officials that would have enriched him, but he refused and remained chronically in debt.

Adams was prominent in organizing protests over the Sugar Act (1764) and the Stamp Act (1765). His continued outspoken criticism of English policies did much to foment public unrest, which erupted into violence in the Boston Massacre in 1770. Adams worked with "committees of correspondence," which exchanged ideas with dissidents in other colonies for opposing British programs.

Adams played a prominent role in planning and executing the Boston Tea Party. Adams' views became radical after the British closed the port of Boston and quartered troops in the city in 1774. He attended both the First Continental Congress (1774) and the Second Continental Congress (1775), speaking forcefully as an advocate of independence. On the eve of hostilities, Adams narrowly eluded the British forces at Lexington. He continued to serve in the Congress during the War and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Later Adams was a supporter of the new Constitution and worked to assure ratification by Massachusetts. He served as governor of the Commonwealth from 1793 to 1797.

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Numbers and Facts


Student Essays

The Location

The Ships

Origin of the Tea


Printable Poster

Samuel Adams Biography

Picture Galleries


Top 10 preceding historic events

Triangular trade in the colonies

Tea Party reenactment script

The Tea Act of 1773

Debate Arguments for the British

The Actual Tea Chest

The Ballad

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