5

Samuel Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Receipts Signed, Plus Elizabeth Adams DS

Receipts dated 1 Feb. 1777, 10 Sept. 1779, and 31 Oct. 1780. All to Richard Devens. The first for "Labour & Coopering twenty seven days in the State Store" in January; the second for "Boating three load[s] Bread from Charlestown & one load Shott & Shells from Watertown;" and the third for two quarts of rum.

Possibly a tax form listing a Chaise and a sleigh, plus something having to do with cows at top. Note at bottom: "Errors excepted in Behalf of my Husband Mr. Saml. Adams / May 8(?), 1778. Elizabeth Adams." This would be Elizabeth Wells Adams, Samuel Adams' second wife. Samuel himself would have been at Philadelphia at the time.

Born in 1722, Samuel Adams was born into a family that held strong Puritan values and supported popular causes. In 1736 he entered Harvard College, ostensibly to prepare for the ministry like his father. But through time he became more and more attracted to politics. His father has served as JP, selectman and member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

After receiving a Master's degree, Adams could not decide what he wanted to do, and he has been described as "utterly uninterested in either making or possessing money." (Maier 1999) He tried going into business, but failed utterly, eventually going to work in the family malthouse. By 1747 he was embarking on a political career, serving as a clerk of the Boston Market and tax collector for the city. He was immensely popular in the latter role, since he was more than lax about collection of the requisite taxes. It landed him in debt again, since he was responsible for the tax shortage, but it also established his political position in the popular party.

When Britain decided to tax her colonies to replenish funds after the Seven Years' War, Adams became one of the most vocal opponents to taxation without representation. he was now a member of the Massachusetts House, as his father had been.As Britain attempted a number of approaches to raising money in the colonies - taxes on sugar, stamps, tea (of course), Adams advocated boycotts on the affected items.

Some have argued that it was the posting of British troops in Boston, nominally to control the economic chaos, that finally sent Adams "over the edge," to advocate independence instead of reconciliation. He also worked for colonial unity, realizing the strength the colonies had in numbers. An active member of many meetings called to deal with these issues, he was a natural choice for representative to the Continental Congress. Although the activities of the Congress were secret, Adams likely was a major voice in that body, also. Thomas Jefferson indicated that it was Adams who was most active in steering the assembly toward independence. After signing the Declaration of Independence, Adams served on the committees that were set up to draft the Articles of Confederation, the Massachusetts Constitution and, later, the United States Constitution. Throughout the war, he served on many committees, many of which were military.

By then end of the war, approaching 60 years of age, he retired from the Continental Congress, but continued to be active in Boston politics. He reportedly focused on Puritan ideals, emphasizing that elected officials had to be virtuous, or democracy would fail. He tangled with John Hancock, who in his earlier years had been an ally, over the perception that Hancock was vain and seeking popularity. He even voted not to thank Hancock for his service as President of the Continental Congress. (In later years, the men would reconcile their differences and become allies once again.) Adams also was opposed to the Society of Cincinnatus, an association of Revolutionary War officers, fearing that it could become the foundation for a "military nobility."

Adams had supported a strong Federal government only if some restrictions were adopted. He worked for the amendments that became the Bill of Rights. In 1789, he became John Hancock's Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, becoming acting governor when his friend died, then elected Governor in his own right in the next election.

He retired from politics in 1797. Now in his seventies, Adams suffered from a tremor that was apparently hereditary (his daughter and other relatives also suffered from it). The first signs of troubles apparently date to his 40s and 50s. By the last decade, he could no longer write. He died in 1803, at 81 years of age.

Condition:Receipts with tape along the edges, as if mounted in a scrapbook previously.The second and third with some toning, especially on verso. The Elizabeth Adams document has been laid down on card. Edges are frayed with some loss of text at top; fold that is separating in center; scattered foxing.

Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$5,400
03/06/2015

 

Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us