Revolution 250 Podcast

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams with Stacy Schiff

October 10, 2023 Stacy Schiff Season 4 Episode 39
Revolution 250 Podcast
The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams with Stacy Schiff
Show Notes Transcript

Stacy Schiff's biography of Samuel Adams, The Revolutionary:  Samuel Adams 
is a milestone in Revolutionary-era biographies, and introduces a complex and engaging political character--his main focus was liberty, and he learned how to shape a revolutionary movement to secure it.  Pulitzer-prize winning biographer Stacy Schiff--born in the town of Adams, Massachusetts  tells us about the Samuel Adams we thought we knew, and the one we should know. 


WEBVTT
 
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 Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Revolution 250 podcast.
 
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 I'm Bob Allison.
 
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 I chair the Rev 250 Advisory Group.
 
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 We are a collaboration among about 70 groups in Massachusetts looking at ways to commemorate the beginnings of the American Revolution.
 
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 And our guest today is Stacey Schiff.
 
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 Stacey, thank you for joining us.
 
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 Bob, I'm delighted to be back.
 
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 Thanks for the invitation.
 
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 That's right, this is your second time with us.
 
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 You came to talk about your great book on the great improvisation about Franklin and the negotiations in Paris.
 
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 And let me just say, you've also written a biography of Saint-Exupéry, the French aviator, about Cleopatra.
 
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 Your biography of Vera Nabokov won the Pulitzer Prize, and you also did a book about witches.
 
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 By the way, last week I heard David Hall talk about Puritans, and someone said, what would be a good book to read about Salem?
 
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 And he said, Stacey Shipp's book.
 
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 and he was the person when i wanted to know what a puritan you know what puritan singing sounded like in 1692. you know only david hall off of his head would be able to answer that question yes it's amazing he's an amazing scholar yeah um and just it's a coincidence i think that you were born in adams massachusetts and your new book is revolutionary about samuel adams
 
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 I think that's a coincidence too, but I could convince myself that it was somehow preordained during the drudgery of research years.
 
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 Yeah.
 
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 But then again, you weren't born in a town called Cleopatra or Vera or these other places.
 
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 Congratulations.
 
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 It's a terrific book.
 
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 And Adams is somewhat of an elusive character.
 
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 As you point out, he's really a failure until he reaches middle age.
 
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 And what we can glean from his younger years, you don't get a sense of this tremendous career he is going to have, the tremendous second act of his life.
 
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 I don't know why, but I find that hugely appealing, both that he manages to succeed at nothing until his mid 40s and that you don't, that those early years are not a template for the life that's to follow.
 
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 I think the biographical impulse is always to turn the early years into something of a miniature version of the later years.
 
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 And with Adams, it doesn't track.
 
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 There's no evidence of the dynamo to come.
 
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 There's no evidence of that political gift that he'll display over those 12 or 14 years.
 
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 He's really just a sort of man about town, deeply idealistic, extremely well-educated.
 
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 But yes, money seems to slip from his hands.
 
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 And as much as he seems to live mostly with ideas, he has absolutely no aptitude for business.
 
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 which in Boston is spectacular, right?
 
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 I mean, it's stunning that you could live in an industrious, aspirational town in Boston and not have a profession.
 
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 And I think it irks his enemies later, you know, when Thomas Hutchinson and Crown officers are poking fun at these hotheaded opposition leaders, they always have a predicate nominative to attach to most men.
 
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 But then there's Samuel Adams, and they can't even find
 
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 You know, he's a cure of bacon.
 
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 They can't even find something with which to demean him because he really doesn't have a profession.
 
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 Yeah.
 
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 But his father did.
 
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 His father was a very successful businessman.
 
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 That's something that I think his enemies always forget about Adams, and it's deeply important.
 
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 He grows up among great wealth in a very comfortable home overlooking Boston Harbor.
 
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 His father is indeed a very successful malster and has, as Peter Oliver tells us, amassed a surprising amount of land while running this malt business.
 
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 So he clearly does have a gift for making money.
 
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 Part of the problem for Adams is that he will not inherit the fortune one would have expected to inherit because of an edict we can talk about or not talk about as we like.
 
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 But yes, the expectation certainly would have been that he would have been a prosperous.
 
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 He bears his father's name.
 
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 He would have followed in his father's footsteps, and he would have been an equally upstanding, prosperous member of the community following along the heels of Samuel Adams Sr.
 
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 Right.
 
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 He's sixth in his class at Harvard when class rank was determined by a year social standing.
 
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 So a much higher rank than was his country cousin, John Adams, who I think was 14 in his Harvard class.
 
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 So yes, and I think a poor man who's born poor is different from a poor man who is born to some idea of luxury or some comfort with luxury.
 
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 And I think later to his many political gifts will be added
 
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 The ability to really unite high and low, which is something I don't think we really talk about in these years.
 
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 Right.
 
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 He's just as comfortable among Harvard trained ministers as he is among the cobbler in the street.
 
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 And that's an unusual constellation of gifts.
 
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 It really is.
 
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 At any time, it really is that ability to connect with people on different social levels, which he has.
 
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 Why don't we talk about that edict?
 
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 Because I think Peter Oliver and Thomas Hutchinson saw that as really central to his political career, how his father's father's fall and why Samuel Adams doesn't inherit as much wealth as he might have.
 
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 So essentially what happens is that there is a I'm going to collapse a huge amount of Massachusetts economic history in two seconds.
 
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 There is a terrific shortage of actual hard currency in the colonies, particularly
 
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 acute in New England in these years.
 
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 This would be the 1740s.
 
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 And so Adams's father and a number of other men, all of them of stature but not of the merchant elite, found what is called a land bank, which is quite simply a bank which issues loans
 
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 which are securitized by these men's properties, because there's plenty of land, there's plenty of currency.
 
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 So they essentially issue currency, which is backed by their land holdings.
 
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 It's an idea on which the Massachusetts administration initially smiles, but then once the notes have been issued, the merchant elite of Boston are up in arms.
 
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 First of all, they don't like this idea of these
 
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 shipbuilders and you know, ironworks owners joining their exalted ranks.
 
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 And secondly, bills are not bills which are going to be worth anything to them in Great Britain.
 
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 So these are not bills with which they can transact any business.
 
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 So for all kinds of reasons,
 
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 much of it very elitist.
 
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 They object to this new institution, which sends the then-Royal Governor, Francis Bernard, back to the Crown, screaming rather hysterically about this insubordination on the part of the Massachusetts men.
 
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 This caps years.
 
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 I mean, it's kind of a preview, really, of coming attractions.
 
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 Bernard thinks that this is the capstone of years of insubordination.
 
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 How dare they insult the Crown in such a way?
 
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 How dare they think
 
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 to take their destiny into their own hands.
 
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 This is the Massachusetts House comporting itself as if it were parliament.
 
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 So there's this tremendous outcry.
 
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 And the crowd overreacts, which again is a preview of coming attractions, and shuts down the land bank in a very trillion way, making the nine directors liable for not only their own debts, but for the general debts of the bank.
 
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 Oh, I'm so sorry.
 
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 and thereby ruining Samuel Adams Senior, who put all of his wealth into the bank.
 
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 And as well afterwards, it will leave Adams for years and years and years, essentially trying to get out from under the debt that he's inherited from his father, a debt he inherits instead of a great fortune.
 
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 But what's really interesting is to see, Adams almost never mentions the land bank later, but John Adams,
 
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 will say you know it was it was an indication of something thomas hutchinson will go back to it over and over again it was kind of a metric by which hutchinson will measure later um public unrest when the stamp act rights break out he will measure against what had happened in the wake of the land bank um so it really is something where
 
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 It clearly ushers Samuel Adams onto the scene.
 
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 It seems to get under his skin.
 
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 Certainly, it changes his economic fortunes tremendously.
 
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 And he does write his Harvard thesis right in the midst of this.
 
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 And as a question to address in his Harvard thesis, that was the obligatory form in the day,
 
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 The question he picks is, is it lawful to resist the king if the republic cannot otherwise be preserved?
 
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 And the question does seem to fall out somewhat from the left bank, from the ramifications.
 
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 MATT BONGIOVI- Do we know what his answer was to the question?
 
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 NANCY DAVIS- His answer was yes.
 
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 His answer was yes.
 
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 It's not as cheeky an answer in 1740 when no one was thinking about such things.
 
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 It was just a hypothetical question, right?
 
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 No one really thought about the implication.
 
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 But it is interesting that he settled on that particular question at the time.
 
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 It is.
 
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 I don't want to draw too direct a line between those years and what will happen later.
 
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 But he's clearly thinking in the 1740s about American rights and grievances in a way that really very few people seem to be.
 
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 And his family has this tremendous political and economic strike.
 
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 So, you know, it's very hard, I think, to separate the two things completely.
 
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 It really is.
 
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 And it's not just a grievance because his family lost their social standing.
 
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 He winds up in debt.
 
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 It really is about these fundamental issues about governance.
 
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 That's really what she sees beneath all of this or behind all of this.
 
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 Exactly.
 
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 And here he is asking this question of, you know, who is in who is in charge of America's political destiny?
 
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 You know, later on, he will pose the great question of if the two if the two governments are essentially models, twins, one of the other, why don't we pass legislation for you?
 
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 I mean, he very much doesn't understand why Bostonians in particular, but the colonies are submitting themselves to these kinds of regulations.
 
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 in a government in which they do not participate.
 
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 And that's certainly a grievance that he would have been nursing from the land bank years.
 
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 Yes.
 
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 We're talking with Stacey Shipp, author of The Revolutionary, Samuel Adams, a great new biography of Adams and really showing his importance in all of this.
 
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 And you mentioned
 
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 I mean, there are lots of pieces of this we can talk about, but you mentioned his country cousin, John Adams.
 
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 I wonder if we could talk a little bit about their relationship.
 
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 When John Adams goes to France, people ask him if he's the famous Adams, and he knows immediately that he is not.
 
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 One of the few instances where John Adams isn't jealous of someone else, that is he appreciates that his cousin is the foremost figure in this movement.
 
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 These years really turn our sense of the two Adamses on their heads because exactly, John is the junior member here.
 
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 John is, I think, 13 years younger.
 
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 He's recruited by his cousin, Samuel.
 
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 The two of them strangely don't seem to have met until the 1760s.
 
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 um when samuel does does enjoying john to join him he really he recognizes talent wherever he sees it i mean the word on the street was pretty much if you gave the best harvard commencement address of your class samuel adams was likely to appear the next morning on your doorstep and that that does seem to have happened to some extent with with john adams but um but john looks up to his cousin in a sort of starry-eyed way and i think that so subverts our sense of who who was the
 
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 which of them had the greater primacy.
 
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 And it's from John that we really get these descriptions that led me to actually sort of burrow deeper into the material because it's John who continually insists on the softness and the delicacy and the prudence of Samuel Adams
 
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 a man who to the rest of us I think has endured as a firebrand.
 
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 And yet John Adams consistently talks about his enormous erudition, his gentility, his affability, a man of great decorum and great piety.
 
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 And he's very much following his older cousin Samuel around town, learning the ropes, finding out who's saying what, visiting the offices of the Boston Gazette while Samuel Adams and his friends are laying out type, really sort of soaking in these ideas.
 
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 And the one thing that John Adams does say, which kind of goes back to what we were saying about the land bank, is that when he and Samuel first meet in the early 1760s,
 
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 the thing that really seems to unite them or the thing that they both immediately express is their common hatred for Thomas Hutchinson.
 
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 And that was an early, I mean, that's very strange, right?
 
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 That's an early date at which to suddenly be so dismissive of poor Thomas Hutchinson, which does sort of suggest, and he also, I should say, John Adams also dates Samuel Adams's involvement in politics earlier.
 
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 to 1741, which two points of finger at his land bank.
 
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 But they're the two of them are and they're often running in the early 1760s.
 
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 And they are as much motivated by, you know, the suspicion of what Great Britain's motives are as they are by this common dislike, this common disaffection.
 
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 Yeah.
 
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 Hmm.
 
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 Why do you suppose they have this deep antipathy toward Thomas Hutchinson?
 
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 I keep telling people he would probably be a college professor in another lifetime, but mild-mannered, professorial, likes to give long lectures.
 
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 He writes a very long three-volume history of Massachusetts.
 
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 That's right.
 
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 But absolutely hated by
 
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 In fact, Peter Oliver in his little book says the whole reason for the revolution was Samuel Adams and James Otis had this vitriolic hatred for Hutchinson.
 
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 It'll bring down everything just in order to get rid of poor Thomas Hutchinson.
 
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 Maybe I'm being too sentimental and too kind to him.
 
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 Maybe he really was the devil.
 
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 I think you're very much, you've put your finger on something and I think it's really instrumental.
 
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 I think it's really essential here because I do think we overlook how much personal antipathy plays a role here.
 
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 That whole sense, and it's a very modern sense, that the elite are deploying all the levers, that the elite basically have made it so that the people have no voice in their destiny.
 
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 That's very much a frustration that the Adams men have not only with the crown, but with the crown officers, Thomas Hutchinson most of all.
 
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 The short answer to your question as to the antipathy is the following.
 
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 Hutchinson is Massachusetts born, so he has no excuse to be carrying himself like an English gentleman in a way.
 
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 I think that it isn't exactly enunciated on paper, but I think there really is a frustration with him
 
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 because his wardrobe comes from Great Britain, his manners come from Great Britain.
 
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 At one point, once he becomes governor, he worships with the Anglicans.
 
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 It's as if he's playing this role that no one is really entirely, you know, everyone's sort of winking at it.
 
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 But he has also, over these years, and in a very understandable way, collected every Massachusetts title.
 
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 I mean, he's so many things, it's almost impossible to list them on a sheet of paper, although I should say both John Adams and Samuel Adams will each at different points
 
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 write long lists of what Thomas Hutchinson's titles were in a way that does indicate that it's that collective power that aggravates them, right?
 
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 They can't believe that one man has collected all of these things.
 
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 And as Samuel Adams will point out, Hutchinson essentially is in charge at one point of every branch of government.
 
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 He asks, can that possibly be just?
 
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 So I think, and you feel bad for Hutchinson because of course he's an immensely dedicated, dutiful public servant, a man of benevolence, and he's really,
 
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 you can see this throughout all of his writing just desperately trying to do his job right but leave him answering to two masters who do not you know which is not possible it's an untenable situation for him that's very interesting and then i i think to me one of the really
 
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 extraordinary outcomes of all of this is that when the Adamses are able to create a new government, they don't simply say, okay, we got rid of the bad guys, now we'll have one where we have power, but they diffuse power.
 
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 They make it clear in the Massachusetts Constitution that the executive, legislative, and judicial powers will be separate, which is really an astonishing thing to happen in a revolution, which is one of the reasons I think it succeeds, or has succeeded.
 
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 Yes.
 
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 And I think that there is such an allergy across the board to that tight control on power.
 
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 I mean, in fairness, Hutchinson and his family have done themselves no favors.
 
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 If you think about the tea that comes in 1773, that tea is entrusted to six individuals to sell.
 
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 Two of them are Hutchinson's friends and two of them are Hutchinson's relatives.
 
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 And I think that puts a fine point on what
 
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 men like Samuel Adams have been pointing to over this decade, which is how did this come to pass?
 
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 And surely this is not the way government is meant to be administered.
 
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 Right, right.
 
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 And then Adams also has a very interesting relationship with John Hancock, who is is also born to wealth and well, not born to wealth, but he inherited from his uncle and has this burgeoning position in the Massachusetts elite.
 
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 And I think it's one of the questions that scholars can ask and others is, is Adam simply manipulating Hancock or is Hancock
 
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 thinking for himself and what is his relationship with someone like John Hancock?
 
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 It's such a fascinating relationship.
 
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 Again, they're just over a decade apart in age.
 
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 Adams at one point decides that Hancock's immense fortune could be of tremendous use to the opposition cause and also
 
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 pretty much figures that the attention will be very welcome to John Hancock, who really lived on applause and attention.
 
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 He figures that on both counts, it's a nice idea to fold Hancock into this operation.
 
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 I'm not really convinced that John Hancock ever had a political idea, or at least a political ideal to which he held.
 
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 I mean, I'd love it if you could prove me wrong on that one.
 
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 um he tends to go he's something of a weather vane and even even contemporaries he's referred to as this servile fool led about by the led by the nose by samuel adams i'm quoting okay yeah but but he's immensely useful not only because of the funding but because he is such a popular figure he's never been able to pass up a naming opportunity he's immensely generous with the town of boston and people listen to him
 
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 So what you end up with between the two men is a very tight and also very fraught on-again, off-again relationship where they serve as very close colleagues.
 
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 At one point, at another point, Hancock tries to freeze Adams out of the government.
 
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 At one point, they're off speaking to her.
 
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 At one point, Thomas Hutchinson actually kind of suborns John Hancock, who says, doesn't matter, I didn't want to talk to Adams ever again in my life anyway.
 
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 And Hutchinson counts on that happening.
 
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 And then friends of
 
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 friends try to reconcile the two men.
 
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 And ultimately they spend this terrifying couple of hours together crouching in a ditch just before the battles of Lexington and Concord when they are the two most wanted men in Massachusetts and they are essentially in hiding together.
 
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 But even after that, even as they make their way to Congress, you begin to see what it was that made them less than perfect colleagues and that Adams is all about the ideas and is all about...
 
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 registering these grievances and seeing that something is done about them.
 
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 And Hancock is absolutely all about the attention paid to him, so that the letter they write home after that rather terrifying evening, Adams's are full of stalwart stoicism, and Hancock's are, my eyes are stinging because the sun was so horrible, you won't believe the acclaim we got as we rode through New York.
 
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 And it's really all about the acclaim and the applause.
 
 19:36.570 --> 19:53.543
 I was just going to say that to the question of why is Adams so little remembered, I think John Hancock gets a lot of the credit because after the revolution or even during the years in Congress, he will do so much to poison the waters in Boston against Adams.
 
 19:53.684 --> 19:56.906
 It's Hancock who will claim that Adams had a part in the Conway cabal.
 
 19:57.427 --> 20:00.109
 It's Hancock who will claim that Adams had a part in the Conway cabal.
 
 20:00.169 --> 20:03.531
 It's Hancock who will deride him on any number of occasions.
 
 20:03.571 --> 20:04.052
 And I think that
 
 20:04.552 --> 20:11.498
 to the many reasons why we have forgotten Adams, you can add a lot of the vitriol for which Hancock is responsible.
 
 20:11.958 --> 20:12.379
 Interesting.
 
 20:12.939 --> 20:32.755
 We're talking with Stacy Schiff, author of The Revolutionary, a biography of Samuel Adams, which I hope is an indication that we won't be forgetting Samuel Adams or we'll begin remembering him more seriously, not just as the fellow we see on the beer bottles, but as someone who really was the instigator of a lot of this.
 
 20:34.824 --> 20:39.486
 And of course, Adams winds up succeeding Hancock as governor of Massachusetts in the 1790s.
 
 20:39.586 --> 20:43.307
 And it's an interesting relationship.
 
 20:44.207 --> 20:55.051
 And then, of course, we were talking briefly about the Congress, which the Adamses helped to put together in 1774 as a way of making sure Massachusetts isn't isolated.
 
 20:55.592 --> 21:01.134
 The Congress carries a very real risk that we're bringing all of these different colonies together.
 
 21:02.130 --> 21:09.233
 What chance is there that they'll say, yeah, Massachusetts is right, or will they say these whacked-out Puritans really pushed things too far by destroying the tea?
 
 21:09.934 --> 21:19.598
 And how is it that they managed to get the others involved or to sail together, I think, as John Adams uses an analogy like that?
 
 21:20.351 --> 21:23.355
 His analogies there with the clocks all striking at once are kind of brilliant.
 
 21:23.455 --> 21:36.330
 I guess I would give John Adams so much credit for answering your question because his diary, his account of the, I think it's 14 days that it will take the Massachusetts delegation to make its way from Boston to Philadelphia.
 
 21:37.331 --> 21:50.902
 are so colorful but also so rich in detail of how the temperature changes, how the hot-headed New Englanders discover that they are seen as religious fanatics and hot-headed New Englanders the more they ride south.
 
 21:51.503 --> 21:56.227
 And the instructions that they are given by sympathizers with the cause
 
 21:56.727 --> 22:04.432
 who very much want them not to upset the apple cart and want them to make sure that there's some kind of unanimity in Congress as they make that trip.
 
 22:04.953 --> 22:12.598
 So that by the time they arrive, I think they're very well versed in the idea, easier for Samuel than for John, that they need to remain somewhat in the background.
 
 22:13.078 --> 22:25.047
 and that they need to really hand off to the Virginians, who are very much on the same page, sometimes for different reasons, but who are not perceived as being sort of religious fanatics and bigots as the New Englanders were.
 
 22:25.367 --> 22:29.830
 Because there's just as much fear, really, from the other colonies that,
 
 22:30.931 --> 22:36.356
 they're going to be taken over by the North as there is that they're going to be in some way crippled by Great Britain.
 
 22:36.916 --> 22:39.178
 There's a tremendous suspicion of the Adams men.
 
 22:39.959 --> 22:45.684
 Probably the best answer to your question is that account that we have of the initial meeting of the Congress,
 
 22:46.644 --> 22:51.067
 at which the question arises, should we open with a prayer?
 
 22:52.207 --> 22:54.388
 Someone immediately objects saying, you know, how can we do that?
 
 22:54.408 --> 22:56.449
 We're Baptists, we're Quakers, we're Presbyterians.
 
 22:56.509 --> 22:57.630
 There's no possible means.
 
 22:57.670 --> 23:05.154
 And it's Samuel Adams, that religious fanatic, quote unquote, who suggests that the Episcopalian minister in Philadelphia could do the job very nicely.
 
 23:05.214 --> 23:11.437
 It's a real gesture toward ecumenicalism, not what anyone would expect of those hotheaded New Englanders.
 
 23:11.537 --> 23:12.578
 And it really saves the day.
 
 23:13.803 --> 23:13.943
 Right.
 
 23:14.244 --> 23:18.288
 This is the first time anyone has seen a church of a different denomination.
 
 23:18.308 --> 23:21.612
 I mean, there is a Catholic church in Philadelphia.
 
 23:22.713 --> 23:27.879
 Isaac Backus from Massachusetts comes down to protest that the assembly is taxing the Baptists.
 
 23:27.919 --> 23:30.982
 And so they are really in this interesting position.
 
 23:31.022 --> 23:31.763
 And you're right, it is interesting.
 
 23:32.259 --> 23:33.700
 Samuel Adams who defuses.
 
 23:33.760 --> 23:37.582
 Everyone looks at him knowing they're these religious fanatics.
 
 23:37.922 --> 23:41.364
 It's considered to be just a masterful political stroke, exactly.
 
 23:41.404 --> 23:42.685
 And these men are so far apart.
 
 23:42.705 --> 23:44.246
 They don't speak the same brand of English.
 
 23:44.286 --> 23:46.367
 They don't divide a dollar into the same number of units.
 
 23:46.427 --> 23:50.289
 I mean, they are foreigners one to the other, something I think we tend to forget as well.
 
 23:51.411 --> 23:52.132
 That's very true.
 
 23:52.192 --> 23:52.632
 Very true.
 
 23:53.673 --> 24:02.599
 And of course, Samuel Adams also had done something in 1772, three and four in Massachusetts and then beyond that is creating these committees of correspondence.
 
 24:02.619 --> 24:09.643
 He's part of the group encouraging this was another of the great political master strokes or an idea.
 
 24:09.663 --> 24:16.008
 It seems obvious to us, but apparently it wasn't obvious enough until 1772 or three that this might be a good idea.
 
 24:16.937 --> 24:18.558
 I think it was something he'd been hoping for.
 
 24:18.618 --> 24:28.807
 He'd been sort of half planning, but hadn't entirely articulated and then couldn't get off the ground until 1772, when it was decided that justices' salaries would be paid by the crown.
 
 24:29.248 --> 24:32.610
 And that was a bridge too far for many in Massachusetts.
 
 24:32.671 --> 24:44.581
 And he's finally able to begin to get support for these committees, which were basically just small groups of men, and they were all men, obviously, who would articulate and reiterate and communicate
 
 24:45.941 --> 24:55.485
 the ideals, the rights and privileges of North Americans as they perceived them, and then see to the grievances, see to anything that obstructed those rights and liberties.
 
 24:55.965 --> 25:06.129
 And it's an idea that Thomas Hutchinson, if you follow Hutchinson's, if you follow Thomas Hutchinson following the committees, it's very revealing because at first he thinks the idea is outright ludicrous.
 
 25:07.049 --> 25:10.951
 He goes from ludicrous to risible to very alarmed very quickly.
 
 25:11.491 --> 25:13.252
 He thinks he can't possibly take off.
 
 25:13.292 --> 25:14.473
 Why would anyone bother?
 
 25:14.833 --> 25:25.959
 And then before he knows it in a matter of months, there are 80 such committees communicating with each other in this very unified way with a very consistent, thanks to Samuel Adams, vocabulary.
 
 25:26.459 --> 25:32.802
 And that's interestingly a tool with which no one had contended earlier because the communication had been so primitive.
 
 25:33.163 --> 25:37.285
 And in many cases, the northern colonies and southern colonies were communicating via London.
 
 25:37.805 --> 25:42.011
 So the communication is really extremely onerous.
 
 25:42.512 --> 25:51.364
 And here you have everyone arriving at the same page in largely the same phrasings and this sort of just very beautifully orchestrated outcry.
 
 25:52.335 --> 25:53.536
 Right, right.
 
 25:53.576 --> 26:06.384
 We're talking with Stacy Shipp, author of The Revolutionary, Samuel Adams, and inevitably when we're talking about a public figure, we do talk about his public life, particularly one whose public life was so important in the dozen years leading up to the Revolution.
 
 26:06.884 --> 26:14.890
 But one thing that really comes across in the book, too, are his relationships with his two wives and his children, which is something you don't see in other biographies.
 
 26:14.950 --> 26:16.691
 I wonder if we could just talk a little bit about
 
 26:17.737 --> 26:21.922
 Samuel Adams and his seco does seem to be a very st
 
 26:24.531 --> 26:31.696
 So he marries the age one would normally expect him to marry and has children, and then very quickly loses his first wife.
 
 26:32.437 --> 26:40.282
 And what's interesting about the negative, what's most remarkable about the next years is that unlike most Massachusetts men, he doesn't immediately remarry.
 
 26:40.442 --> 26:43.124
 I think Paul Revere goes for a couple of months between wives.
 
 26:43.144 --> 26:44.766
 Adams goes for seven years.
 
 26:45.566 --> 26:50.430
 In a town that was blossoming with widows was really unusual.
 
 26:51.260 --> 26:52.641
 Plus he has young children, too.
 
 26:53.201 --> 26:57.502
 Young children, which we're told by family members he's raising on his own, obviously.
 
 26:57.522 --> 27:03.985
 So he's a single father for these years, obviously helped by the extended family, but doesn't rush into a second marriage.
 
 27:04.445 --> 27:08.347
 And when he does, he marries a woman who's very much his equal.
 
 27:08.367 --> 27:16.290
 She's a distiller's daughter, immensely well educated, extremely well read, very much shares his political views.
 
 27:16.910 --> 27:21.193
 is very much of the Abigail Adams school of Dauntless.
 
 27:21.293 --> 27:22.053
 She's fearless.
 
 27:22.654 --> 27:31.459
 At one point when he's at Congress and she's, I think, in Dedham, she can hear the sound of the roar of cannon in the distance, but she's by no means dismayed by this.
 
 27:32.600 --> 27:34.181
 My favorite is probably the letter that
 
 27:35.014 --> 27:46.901
 that she, whose name was Elizabeth, will write to him at Congress where she says, I don't have a pen, so I'm writing this with a scissors, which I have, you know, with the point of a scissors, so forgive my handwriting.
 
 27:47.161 --> 27:48.802
 And her handwriting, of course, is impeccable.
 
 27:49.402 --> 27:51.263
 It's very much his political...
 
 27:52.924 --> 27:53.524
 confidant.
 
 27:53.725 --> 27:57.507
 The two of them speak very easily about public affairs.
 
 27:57.527 --> 28:01.530
 People make fun of him at one point for the fact that he discusses politics with his wife.
 
 28:01.570 --> 28:02.951
 He's taken to task for that.
 
 28:03.511 --> 28:07.574
 And she does arrive just at the point where he seems to burst into action.
 
 28:08.114 --> 28:17.040
 So there's maybe this hint that she in some way gets some credit for that, or maybe the timing was just propitious, but very much a team player.
 
 28:17.240 --> 28:19.942
 And those are the only glimpses.
 
 28:19.962 --> 28:22.344
 The beauty of the second relationship is that we can
 
 28:23.305 --> 28:25.907
 documented better because the two of them are separated.
 
 28:25.948 --> 28:34.277
 He's in Philadelphia, she in Boston, whereas with the first marriage, because he never leaves Boston, we have almost nothing on paper about the relationship.
 
 28:35.524 --> 28:35.984
 It's amazing.
 
 28:36.064 --> 28:38.466
 Do he and Elizabeth have children?
 
 28:38.806 --> 28:41.607
 Some indication that she may have had a miscarriage at one point.
 
 28:41.627 --> 28:43.628
 There are a couple of letters that seem to hint at that.
 
 28:44.208 --> 28:46.029
 But the children are from the first marriage.
 
 28:47.150 --> 28:47.710
 And we have hints.
 
 28:47.950 --> 28:50.051
 Again, with the children, we have hints here and there.
 
 28:50.091 --> 28:57.755
 We know a certain amount about the daughter, who evidently left a very telling memoir about her father, a memoir that I have never turned up.
 
 28:57.815 --> 29:01.057
 So if someone else does, I hope they'll let me know right away.
 
 29:01.077 --> 29:04.699
 Meant to be in the papers in the New York Public Library, but it isn't there.
 
 29:05.419 --> 29:07.740
 And the son goes on to become a surgeon in the army.
 
 29:07.760 --> 29:14.323
 There we somewhat lose his trail because there are three Samuel Adams juniors in the army.
 
 29:14.383 --> 29:18.465
 So this is the downside of having a very common name.
 
 29:18.745 --> 29:19.505
 It's hard to trace.
 
 29:20.306 --> 29:21.166
 But he dies young.
 
 29:21.646 --> 29:30.611
 And in a strange list of events, Samuel, his father, Samuel Adams, will come into a fortune or a lot of money because of the army pension very late in life.
 
 29:31.191 --> 29:33.512
 So sort of twisted irony at the end.
 
 29:34.585 --> 29:35.525
 That's very interesting.
 
 29:35.545 --> 29:41.186
 We're talking with Stacy Schiff, author of The Revolutionary, a biography of Samuel Adams.
 
 29:41.747 --> 29:49.348
 Now, of course, the image of Samuel Adams on the beer bottles is almost inescapable.
 
 29:49.368 --> 29:51.869
 Can we talk a little bit about, was he a brewer?
 
 29:51.909 --> 29:54.569
 You mentioned that he was a malster, his father was a malster.
 
 29:55.809 --> 29:59.510
 He inherits the malting business, so he was never a brewer.
 
 29:59.570 --> 30:02.791
 No one in the family had been a brewer, but malsters for many generations.
 
 30:03.613 --> 30:09.857
 And he does at one point, because of having lost the money that he would have inherited, attempt to take over that business.
 
 30:10.377 --> 30:12.799
 And so far as I can tell, he pretty much runs it into the ground.
 
 30:13.339 --> 30:16.741
 But it is not as a brewer ever that he makes his money.
 
 30:18.483 --> 30:18.843
 Thank you.
 
 30:20.124 --> 30:21.004
 Moreover, it's even worse.
 
 30:21.024 --> 30:21.985
 He didn't seem to drink.
 
 30:22.285 --> 30:23.566
 So on both counts, I guess.
 
 30:24.066 --> 30:28.489
 But if you want a steely American figure, he's the perfect person to put on your beer bottle.
 
 30:29.332 --> 30:30.212
 He definitely is.
 
 30:31.713 --> 30:36.415
 I don't think is there a recorded instance of him cracking a joke or smiling.
 
 30:37.856 --> 30:39.677
 He does seem a very stern character.
 
 30:40.337 --> 30:41.698
 There's a lot of dry humor
 
 30:43.369 --> 30:44.890
 There are quite a few incidents.
 
 30:44.910 --> 30:49.975
 There are quite a few moments of, you know, his daughter at one point comes across him writing a petition to the crown.
 
 30:50.515 --> 30:57.782
 And she says something in this exalted way about this is going to be read, you know, held by the divine hands or read by the regal hands.
 
 30:57.922 --> 31:00.564
 He says much more likely to be spurned by the royal foot.
 
 31:00.944 --> 31:04.247
 So, you know, we have glimpses of humor.
 
 31:04.408 --> 31:06.089
 He's not necessarily Ben Franklin.
 
 31:06.850 --> 31:07.550
 I will grant you that.
 
 31:07.570 --> 31:07.911
 That's true.
 
 31:08.496 --> 31:10.037
 But who was, right?
 
 31:10.398 --> 31:11.339
 Who was, exactly.
 
 31:11.359 --> 31:14.562
 And even unsure if Franklin was Franklin.
 
 31:14.662 --> 31:16.824
 I mean, he is such an extraordinary character.
 
 31:17.284 --> 31:20.207
 How did they get along, by the way, Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin?
 
 31:20.916 --> 31:25.141
 You know, you ask a question that I spent an enormous amount of time thinking about.
 
 31:25.681 --> 31:28.745
 I couldn't be certain that they had ever met before Congress.
 
 31:29.946 --> 31:34.451
 It's a really fascinating relationship in that I don't know that they ever crossed paths.
 
 31:35.052 --> 31:40.077
 Adams, as did many people, believed Franklin insufficiently revolutionary for most of these years.
 
 31:40.137 --> 31:42.300
 He doesn't really think that Franklin is revolutionary.
 
 31:42.700 --> 31:48.467
 feeling quite the urgency that many in the colonies are feeling because Franklin, of course, is based in London at this time.
 
 31:49.108 --> 31:55.316
 Interestingly, it will be Samuel Adams and the Boston Tea Party that will make of Ben Franklin a real patriot.
 
 31:55.356 --> 31:59.421
 So there's almost a sort of direct link between the two in terms of political activism
 
 31:59.821 --> 32:06.225
 because Franklin will be held up before the Privy Council as responsible, which is, of course, not for the destruction of the tea.
 
 32:06.845 --> 32:10.708
 And that is, I'm sure, the humiliating moment that makes of him a really radical.
 
 32:11.888 --> 32:14.910
 In Congress, there's almost no indication of the two of them.
 
 32:15.150 --> 32:18.833
 We know that at one point when the Middle Atlantic states are really
 
 32:19.873 --> 32:30.423
 hesitating to go along with this idea of independence or with any kind of declaration, Franklin and Adams have discussed the idea of the New England colonies and Pennsylvania going off on their own.
 
 32:30.483 --> 32:38.591
 So we know that there's a rapport between the two of them and that they are discussing, that they are very much on the same page in terms of independence and that they are discussing plans together.
 
 32:39.131 --> 33:00.338
 but as to socializing um as more than that there's very little on paper it's interesting and then of course alexander wedderburn who's the one who excoriates franklin accounts then he's conducting an investigation into this conspiracy in boston putting in 1774 really putting samuel adams at the center of it it's he who really um
 
 33:01.405 --> 33:21.472
 without sort of naming Adams as the sole malefactor, but very much holding him up that way, essentially credits Adams with being the person who has identified, as he puts it, a thousand rights of which these Americans have never considered, a thousand grievances of which they have never, and a thousand grievances of which they have never felt, and a thousand grievances of which they had, a thousand...
 
 33:23.172 --> 33:24.333
 Insults of which they have never heard.
 
 33:24.393 --> 33:25.734
 Sorry, I just mangled it three times.
 
 33:26.895 --> 33:33.080
 So yes, he's very much watching this and with enormous consternation, wondering what is going on.
 
 33:34.381 --> 33:47.591
 But with that same sense of cluelessness that most of the British, most of the Crown administration has at this point, because it doesn't, none of this seems to tally with their sense of the colonies, or for that matter, with anything to which they have paid attention for the previous decade.
 
 33:47.611 --> 33:48.992
 Right, thank you.
 
 33:49.508 --> 33:50.829
 We've been talking with Stacey Shipp.
 
 33:50.869 --> 33:52.170
 I know we could go on all day.
 
 33:52.650 --> 33:53.951
 And it's a terrific book.
 
 33:54.011 --> 33:56.133
 And Samuel Adams is a fascinating character.
 
 33:56.193 --> 33:58.955
 But I know you have other things to do.
 
 33:59.035 --> 34:03.778
 I wonder if there's anything else we should say.
 
 34:03.838 --> 34:04.318
 This is great.
 
 34:04.338 --> 34:08.962
 I wonder if there's anything else we should say before we let people go aside from to read the book.
 
 34:10.002 --> 34:17.007
 You know, I think that sometimes we get extremely... Adams is a face from the record in so many places.
 
 34:17.287 --> 34:18.008
 And I think one of the
 
 34:18.812 --> 34:26.918
 moments of which we can be certain of his presence is in the meetings at the Boston, when the tea is destroyed in 1773.
 
 34:27.158 --> 34:37.807
 And I think the very fact that we can actually know where he is at that moment speaks volumes about how essential he was on that particular evening and in those particular weeks.
 
 34:38.227 --> 34:42.950
 Because of course, there's such emphasis on the fact that he's there in the meeting house at that moment.
 
 34:42.970 --> 34:46.533
 He's not on the pier, as was most of the rest of Boston, exactly.
 
 34:58.912 --> 35:18.157
 thank you uh and i know okay okay just want to mention that on the 23rd of october you'll be at old south meeting house where samuel adams was back in 1773 and on the 24th of october the next night you'll be down in newport actually with brooke barbier the who's written a great biography of john hancock the old colony house charter books which should be fun
 
 35:19.022 --> 35:28.269
 And Jonathan points out that Samuel Adams' grave is going to be marked, I think, on the 28th of October by the date or the 28th of November, the day that ships arrived.
 
 35:28.369 --> 35:31.792
 The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is doing a marking of his grave.
 
 35:31.832 --> 35:34.514
 You may know they've been marking the graves of participants.
 
 35:34.574 --> 35:38.076
 And this is the final one, even though, as you said, he wasn't on the ships.
 
 35:38.276 --> 35:41.399
 He definitely was the person responsible for this.
 
 35:41.479 --> 35:42.840
 And they're recognizing that on the 28th.
 
 35:43.797 --> 35:49.721
 And then on November 5th, you'll be at Port Washington, New York, at the library at Port Washington, New York.
 
 35:49.741 --> 35:52.003
 I know you have other speaking engagements.
 
 35:52.043 --> 35:58.267
 I'm just pointing that to folks who want to get a chance to talk to you and hear you talk and get a copy of the book, which is well worth reading.
 
 35:58.587 --> 36:00.108
 So thank you for joining us, Stacey.
 
 36:00.149 --> 36:01.690
 It's been fun talking to you.
 
 36:02.190 --> 36:02.690
 Thanks, Bob.
 
 36:02.730 --> 36:03.571
 It's always a pleasure.
 
 36:03.611 --> 36:04.031
 Thank you.
 
 36:04.972 --> 36:05.833
 And fun reading the book.
 
 36:05.853 --> 36:06.413
 And I want to thank
 
 36:06.843 --> 36:26.170
 Jonathan Lane, our man behind the curtain, as well as our listeners around the world, Lancaster, Ohio, and West Milford, New Jersey, Wake Forest, North Carolina, a lot of towns in Massachusetts, Milton and Acton, and of course, Brooklyn, New York, and Manhattan itself.
 
 36:26.270 --> 36:28.171
 We have friends all around the world.
 
 36:28.211 --> 36:31.392
 I want to thank you all for joining us and places beyond in between.
 
 36:31.432 --> 36:33.213
 If you're interested in some of our Revolution 250
 
 36:34.460 --> 36:50.019
 regalia send jonathan lane an email jay lane at revolution250.org we'll send you one of our refrigerator magnets with an inspirational quote from the town responses to the boston report and now we will be piped out on the road to boston thanks for joining us