Thursday, December 29, 2022

Opening paragraphs.................

Samuel Adams delivered what may count as the most remarkable second act in American life.  It was all the more confounding after the first:  he was a perfect failure until middle age.  He found his footing at forty-one, when, over a dozen years, he proceeded to answer to Thomas Jefferson's description of him as "truly the man of the Revolution."  With singular lucidity Adams plucked ideas from the air and pinned them to the page, layering in moral dimensions, whipping up emotions, seizing and shaping the popular imagination. On a wet 1774 night when a group of Massachusetts farmers settled in a tavern before the fire, and pipes in hand, discussed what had driven Bostonians mad—reasoning that Parliament might soon begin to tax horses, cows, and sheep; wondering what additional affronts could come their way; and concluding that it was better to rebel sooner rather than later—it was because the long arm of Samuel Adams had reached them.  He muscled words into deeds, effecting, with various partners, a revolution that culminated, in 1776, with the Declaration of Independence.  It was a sideways, looping, secretive business.  Adams steered New Englanders where he was certain they meant, or should mean, to head, occasionally even revealing the destination along the way.  As a grandson acknowledged: "Shallow men called this cunning, and wise men wisdom."  The patron saint of late bloomers, Adams proved a political genius.

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