Forgotten Founding Father gets well researched biography
Apr 13, 2009
Samuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll shines a light on a forgotten Founder of America. Samuel Adams who has become best known for a brand of beer is one of the least discussed American Founding Fathers, but it was his words that helped form the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and organized the Boston Tea Party. Adams, a cousin of second President John Adams, was a deeply religious man and those beliefs shaped every aspect of his life. Every letter and article he wrote had a basis and reference to God and the Bible. That faith led him to believe that America had certain rights that were being denied by the British, and he wasn't afraid to speak his mind in several newspaper articles about them. He served Massachusetts as a representative for much of his life and helped draft its groundbreaking constitution which helped form the foundation for the American Constitution. Adams did have some prejudices against Catholics and Quakers, but was rather enlightened about the paradox of Americans demanding their freedom while owning slaves. Stoll does a remarkable job of revealing Adams' beliefs through his personal letters as well as his public ones, but he doesn't cover Adams' personal life with as much depth. His children are rarely mentioned, so his relationship with them and his family is undefined. The book loses its focus a bit after the forming of the Constitution, and it was a tough slog through the last chapter or so. Adams is a fascinating part of American history with an incredible amount of drive, and Stoll does a great job of capturing that. As a rather poor man without the money of Washington and Jefferson or the education and culture of John Adams, Adams is a relatable, everyman kind of American hero.