I've complained about how many authors have painted a distorted picture of Samuel Adams, squeezing a Puritan gentleman politician of the late 1700s into the mold of a radical street organizer of the late 1800s. At least Buckeye Hamburger at the Daily Kos noticed.
On the other hand, the flame-broiled one repeats the "Adams was the most radical" picture, with approval instead of regret:
Among the Founding Fathers, none of whom was a slouch when it came to patriotic passion, Adams was undoubtedly the most radical, uncompromising and inflammatory.I'd score that as one out of three. Adams was indeed loath to compromise on his principles and his conviction that the London ministry and its appointees were up to no good.
But Adams's political program wasn't as radical as that of Dr. Thomas Young, who was a deist and perhaps even a democrat. Active in Boston from 1768 to 1774, Young actually thought it would be a good idea to build spectator galleries in legislatures so that people could watch their laws being made and voice their own ideas. Imagine! Adams's program was basically conservative: returning to when Massachusetts men largely governed themselves with a lot of guidance from their Congregationalist traditions.
Nor was Adams the most inflammatory in his rhetoric of the Massachusetts Whigs. James Otis, Jr., allowed Adams—and only Adams—to hold him back in the legislature and edit his newspaper essays because he knew he could get carried way. (And eventually he was—straitjacketed in a coach, reportedly.)
Also more inflammatory than Adams was Dr. Joseph Warren, whose modern biographer John Cary has written:
In comparison with other contemporaries such as Samuel Adams,…Warren’s style is more personal, bombastic, and emotional. He uses the personal pronoun "I" more frequently and an inordinate number of imperative sentences charging the people to action. . . . A striking contrast to Warren’s style is that of Samuel Adams, whose writings are easily identifiable by his extraordinary number of long sentences and extensive use of the semicolon.Long sentences and semicolons are hardly the hallmark of incendiary prose.
Dr. Warren was one of the Boston Whigs who came closest to being charged with a crime for his political writings. (Adams was never in that danger.) In the 29 Feb 1768 Boston Gazette he published a letter that ended:
We never can treat good and patriotic rulers with too great reverence. But it is certain that men totally abandoned to wickedness can never merit our regard, be their stations ever so high.Gov. Francis Bernard and Chief Justice/Lt.-Gov. Thomas Hutchinson tried to get a grand jury to indict Warren for libel, but the locals refused.
"If such men are by God appointed, The Devil may be the Lord's anointed."
A TRUE PATRIOT.
After he became governor himself, Hutchinson tried the same tactic against Joseph Greenleaf, a country magistrate who had moved to Boston and become a partner of printer Isaiah Thomas. Again, the grand jury resisted, and Hutchinson dropped the case.
Those examples provide a parallel to today's events worthy of the Daily Kos. The White House and Republicans in Congress, smarting from criticism, have accused newspaper publishers of "treason." In pre-Revolutionary Boston royal appointees opposed political opinions, but today's authorities object to accurate accounts of our government's controversial activities overseas. Those officials claim that they're upset to see information about tracking international finances made public—which seems odd since they've boasted about such efforts for years. And, of course, have disclosed even more tightly classified information.
Could it be that there's an election coming up in the U.S. of A.? And whom do we have to thank for those elections? Men like Adams, Young, Otis, Warren, and Greenleaf.