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John Adams shares thoughts about his cousin Samuel...

 “Mr. Adams was born and tempered a wedge of steel, to split the knot of lignum vitæ which tied North America to Great Britain. Blunderheaded as were the British ministry, they had sagacity enough to discriminate from all others, for inexorable vengeance, the two men the most to be dreaded by them, Samuel Adams and John Hancock; and had not James Otis been then dead, or worse than dead, his name would have been at the head of The Triumvirate.

“James Otis, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, were the three most essential characters; and Great Britain knew it, though America does not. Great and important and excellent characters, aroused and excited by these, arose in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, South Carolina, and in all the other States; but these three were the first movers, the most constant, steady, persevering springs, agents, and most disinterested sufferers and firmest pillars of the whole Revolution.

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

“But if I had time, eyes and fingers at my command, where should I find documents and memorials? 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. During all that time he was an almost incessant writer. But where are his writings? Who can collect them? And if collected, who will ever read them? The letters he wrote and received, where are they? I have seen him at Mrs. Yard’s in Philadelphia, when he was about to leave Congress, cut up with his scissors whole bundles of letters, into atoms that could never be reunited, and throw them out at the window, to be scattered by the winds. This was in summer, when he had no fire. In winter he threw whole handfuls into the fire. As we were on terms of perfect intimacy, I have joked him, perhaps rudely, upon his anxious caution. His answer was, ‘Whatever becomes of me, my friends shall never suffer by my negligence.’




In this c. 1772 portrait by John Singleton Copley, Adams points at the Massachusetts Charter, which he viewed as a constitution that protected the peoples' rights (Wikipedia)

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