The Influence Samuel Adams use of Propaganda and Strategy Loyalists toward Adopting Anti-British Policies?
To what extent did Samuel Adams’ use of propaganda and strategy influence loyalists toward adopting anti-British policies? A. Plan of Investigation. The purpose of this investigation is to evaluate whether or not Samuel Adams’ use of propaganda had a substantial influence upon loyalists who were wary of change.
The main body of this document will analyze Adams’ use of communication to affect the opinions of others. It will also assess the extent to which said communication influenced loyalists toward revolutionary motives. Personal letters, as well as accounts of historians, will be used to evaluate Samuel Adams’ role as a political incendiary.
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Two sources used in this essay, a personal letter written by Richard Henry Lee to Adams and Samuel Adams’s Revolution, 1765-1776; with the assistance of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George III, and the people of Boston by Cass Canfield will be evaluated according to their origins, purposes, values, and limitations. B. Summary of Evidence. Adams’ Use of Propaganda and Social Standing
- Adams won his first political office in 1746 (Canfield 6).
- In 1747 Adams created a club for discussing political problems (Alexander 7).
- Adams published his Independent Advertiser essays in the 1740s based upon the works of John Locke (Alexander 8).
- Adams was sympathetic toward the taxpayers. However, he failed to collect the amount required, which resulted in conflict with the British (Canfield 7).
- Adams was reelected by the town meeting as a tax collector for Boston multiple times despite failing to collect his quota (Lewis 24).
- During this period, Adams carefully challenged Parliament while avoiding being declared disloyal (Alexander 20).
- Adams was appointed clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1766 (Canfield 25).
- In 1768 Adams wrote the circular letter (Puls i).
- Adams wrote over 40 articles for the Boston Gazette from August 1770 to December 1772 (Canfield 27).
- Peter Oliver, a loyalist, believed that Samuel Adams sounded moderate, but his initial desire for independence made him a radical (Alexander 23).
- Adams sought ways to exploit British mistakes after non-importation failed during the “quiet period” in the 1770s (Alexander 93).
- The “quiet period” was years in which relatively no conflicts occurred among the British and the colonists (Alexander 93).
- In 1773, a failed British attempt at forcing the British East India Company resulted in Adams writing two essays for the Boston Gazette criticizing loyalist governor Hutchinson (Alexander 94).
- Adams wrote to James Warren and Richard Henry Lee concerning the protection of natural rights (Alexander 154, democraticthinker.wordpress.com).
Anti-British Policies Adopted
- In 1765, Stamp Act Congress was formed after Adams’ suggestion (Puls, I).
- Several colonists followed Adam’s protest against the Stamp and Sugar Acts (Puls 47, 59).
- British merchants aided in the repeal of the Stamp Act (Puls, 62).
- Adams’ correspondents challenged the claim that colonists were represented in Parliament upon his urging (Alexander 36).
- The first Continental Congress was called together by Adams in 1773 (Puls i).
- After correspondence with Adams, Richard Henry Lee offered a resolution to the delegates in the Second Constitutional Congress that stated that the colonies should be independent (Alexander 154).
- Congress appointed a committee to draft a declaration of independence (democraticthinker.wordpress.com).
- James Warren writes a letter to Adams expressing a belief that patriots are the underlying strength in the colonies and that monarchial powers are abominations (democratic thinker wordpress.com).
C. Evaluation of Sources. Richard Henry Lee was a member of the First Continental Congress. He is noted for proposing American Independence and having a significant role in adopting the Declaration of Independence. His letter to Samuel Adams was written on October 5, 1787, from New York, and was sent to Samuel Adams in Boston. This letter’s purpose was to assure Adams that Lee had proposed his patriot ideas to the Second Continental Congress.
Therefore, this correspondence was for assessing whether or not the ideas of Adams had been brought to the attention of those who could pass legislation based upon said ideas. This primary resource is valuable because it clearly illustrates that although Adams was not directly involved in persuading every loyalist, he was able to persuade patriots who could, in turn, ensure that his influence continued to spread; thus proving that Adams’ communication was effectively circulating.
However, it is limited because, in his writing, Lee establishes that he is dissatisfied because the Constitutional Convention had rejected what he had proposed at this time; and later contradicts his own standpoint by stating that the current draft of the Constitution was good, which makes his point of view concerning the necessity of Adams’ ideas vague and the validity of his report difficult to assess.
Samuel Adams’s Revolution, 1765-1776; with the assistance of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George III, and the people of Boston is Cass Canfield’s historical account of the events surrounding the American War for Independence with a focus on Samuel Adams’ activity and was published in 1976. This book’s purpose was to trace the extensive influence of Adams as a leader throughout these ten years. This source is valuable because it notes Adams’ use of words and the words of other colonists about Adams, which together serve as a basis to determine the extent to which he was able to influence others.
This source is limited because it focuses heavily upon establishing the social and political effects of Adams’ role in society with little references to the causes of said effects, such as his published works in newspapers. Therefore, this resource illustrates the final result of Adam’s influence while barely noting the process by which this result was obtained, thus making it difficult to assess which significant events, if any, during this period were influenced by Adams.
D. Analysis. Samuel Adams’ role as a public figure and a famous writer had a significant influence in convincing colonists to adopt Anti-British policies. Prior to the American War for Independence, Adams had gained a role in local Massachusetts politics as a tax collector (Canfield 6). As a tax collector, Adams developed a relationship with the taxpayers and often allowed them to pay less than required. As a result, he continuously failed to reach his quota, which led to conflict with the British (Canfield 7).
Despite this, Adams was re-elected as the Boston tax collector multiple times (Lewis 24). Although he was reprimanded for not doing his job correctly, Adams established a deep connection with the commoner. During this time, Adams was affiliating himself with the ordinary person and his problems. Therefore, he was learning how to appeal to the masses, and the masses were fond of Adams.
Simultaneously, Adams began to publish his opinions about British policies in public newspapers (Alexander 8). Colonists at the time were having difficulties with accepting the British tribute that was forced upon them, therefore, Adams used the press to carefully challenge and criticize the decisions of Parliament and its colonial supporters (Alexander 20). He often chose to publish works based upon the philosophy of John Locke in order to ensure that the people of Boston were aware of philosophies other than that of Britain (Alexander 8).
At this point in time, Adams was already considering an America free of British regulation, but in order to get to this point, he knew there would have to be a significant amount of others who wanted this as well. Thus, by educating the public in the concept of natural rights, the very rights that were being infringed upon, Adams could combine a common economic hardship with an ideological one, allowing people to have an informed opinion about the circumstances surrounding their lives.
In the latter half of that century, Samuel Adams’s popularity brought him to a higher political position as the Massachusetts House of Representatives clerk in 1766 (Canfield 25). Adams wrote the Massachusetts Circular letter, which declared the Townshend Acts unconstitutional (Puls i). Though Adams was not directly a part of the legislative process in Massachusetts, he was able to extend his influence by ensuring that several important figures believed in his patriot ideas.
These figures, such as Richard Henry Lee and James Warren, could, in turn, ensure that his ideas were proposed to become legislature, thus proving that Adams’ communication was effectively circulating (Lee, Warren democraticthinker.wordpress.com). While Samuel Adams spent time with the Massachusetts House of Representatives, he consistently utilized the press to support his ideas. He wrote over 40 articles for the Boston Gazette from August 1770 to December 1772 (Canfield 27). Therefore, he ensured that his ideas were never far from the eyes of the public.
Boycotts on British goods and non-importation agreements failed during the “quiet period” in the 1770s (Alexander 93). Colonists had become weary of conflicts with the British and sought to avoid confrontation (Alexander 93). It was at this time when Adams began to brutally emphasize and exploit British mistakes (Alexander 94). He knew that opposition toward Great Britain was generally diminishing due to fear of repercussions, and so he sought to display every detail that could be considered negative, such as Governor Hutchinson’s attempt to maintain trade with the British East India Company despite public opposition to taxation (Alexander 94).
Thus, Adams singlehandedly kept this social unrest alive. In addition to this, Adams kept correspondence with men such as James Warren and Richard Henry Lee who both were directly involved in the First Continental Congress (Lee, democraticthinker.wordpress.com). By doing this, Adams was able to affect one of the most important legislative bodies during this time period without leaving Boston.
Through correspondence, Adams was able to propose ideas to Lee and Warren, who in turn, proposed them to the entire legislative body. Samuel Adams was indirectly influencing representatives from across the colonies toward anti-British policies, the most noteworthy of which, was the Declaration of Independence (Alexander 154). Therefore, it is evident that Samuel Adams’ use of propaganda and strategy had a significant upon the adoption of anti-British policies.
E. Conclusion. From an early age, Samuel Adams effectively ensured that he was a public figure that the people would both relate to and look up to. By remaining in the forefront of local politics while utilizing the press to spread his ideologies, Adams enabled his ideas to reach the common man, and thus, these ideas such as the boycott of British goods and the formation of a Stamp Act Congress became widely accepted.
Also, the writings of Adams influenced other figures who in turn, proposed revolutionary tactics at crucial meetings such as the proposal of the Declaration of Independence by Richard Henry Lee during the Second Continental Congress. Therefore, it is evident that Samuel Adams’s use of propaganda had a significant influence on the adoption of anti-British policies.
F. Works Cited
- “Letter to James Warren.” Democratic Thinker. Web. < http://democraticthinker.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/samuel-adams%E2%80%94to-james-warren-october-24-1780/>
- “Letter to Richard Henry Lee.” Weblog post. Democratic Thinker. Web. <http://democraticthinker.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/richard-henry-lee-the-national-constitution/ >.
- Alexander, John K. Samuel Adams: America’s Revolutionary Politician. Lanham [u.a.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004. Print.
- Canfield, Cass. Samuel Adams’s Revolution, 1765-1776: with the Assistance of George
- Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George III, and the People of Boston. New York: Harper & Row, 1976. Print.
- Lewis, Paul. The Grand Incendiary; a Biography of Samuel Adams, New York: Dial, 1973. Print.