Here's more about Samuel Adams and how he's been caricatured by some historians (as I've discussed previously here and here). This passage is from John Richard Alden's General Gage in America (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1948). Page 110, if you want to be nosy about it.
In May, 1764, under the inspiration of Samuel Adams, a Boston town meeting—Boston town meetings meant nothing but trouble from that time until firing began at Lexington—boldly set forth the doctrine "no taxation without representation." "If taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a legal representative where they are laid, are we not reduced from the character of free subjects to the miserable status of tributary slaves?" Of course, Samuel Adams, having dissipated a rather considerable property inherited from his father, could not suffer very much directly because of taxes levied by Parliament. But the public business had become his private business, and he was contending for a principle. Like most men contending solely for a principle he was distinctly a "trouble-maker."
This Adams character sounds like a terrible man indeed! But when we peel back Alden's rhetoric and look at his evidence and logic, a different picture emerges.
Why were Boston town meetings "nothing but trouble"? Because, apparently, they were forums for objecting to "taxation without representation" and other Crown policies. Alden's criticism of those meetings seems to rest on rejecting the idea that people should have a say in how they're taxed and governed.
Why was Adams "distinctly a 'trouble-maker'"? Because he was "contending for a principle." Indeed, Alden gives us an example of how Adams's principles tripped up Gen. Gage on page 209:
An attempt made by the general shortly after the dismissal of the legislature to bribe Samuel Adams was not merely a failure—it was a farce. Adams received the offer of pelf, made through one Colonel Fenton, with outraged virtue and lofty indignation.(This statement is based only on a story that Adams's daughter told in 1818, but Alden was happy to accept it for his argument.) So Adams was a "trouble-maker" because he refused bribes and otherwise couldn't be swayed from his guiding principle. A principled proponent of self-government—how troubling!
And let's consider the phrase "dissipated a rather considerable property." Authors usually use the word "dissipated" to imply disapproval. Adams did indeed inherit businesses from his father, didn't run them well, and apparently sold them off when he went into politics. His interests, it appears, lay elsewhere. But Adams was hardly known for living luxuriously or spending rashly. According to one tale from the time, wealthy Whig merchants banded together secretly in 1774 to buy him new clothes so that he'd make a respectable show at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Furthermore, when we look again at Alden's sentence, we realize he's saying that Adams's politics were not driven by his own self-interest. Usually, that's a good thing.
Let's imagine this passage with the same facts but written in pro-Adams rhetoric:
In May, 1764, with Samuel Adams presiding, a Boston town meeting—Boston town meetings consistently opposed new Crown revenue laws up to the first shots at Lexington—boldly set forth the doctrine "no taxation without representation." "If taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a legal representative where they are laid, are we not reduced from the character of free subjects to the miserable status of tributary slaves?" Adams did not promote this doctrine for personal gain since he had little wealth left from his father's estate and had chosen politics instead of private business. He was contending for a principle. Like most people driven by principle, Adams meant trouble for governors who expected bribes and positions to sway ambitious men to their side.I'm not saying that paragraph paints a complete image of Samuel Adams. But it doesn't put me on the side of taxation without representation and bribery.