Tuesday, February 7, 2023

the watermark.......................

      Adams banked on the sage deliberations of a band of hard-working farmers reasoning their way toward rebellion.  That was how democracy worked.  He dreaded disunity. "Neither religion nor liberty can long subsist in the tumult of altercation, and amidst the noise and violence of faction," he warned.  There was nothing feigned about his zeal for liberty, "the best cause," he assured his wife, "that virtuous men contend for."  In his case it was bred deep in the Calvinist bone.  Adams could not live in the house with a slave and arranged for the one who arrived on his doorstep to be freed.  He refused to believe that prejudice and private interest would ultimately trample knowledge and benevolence.  Self-government was in his view inseparable from governing the self; it demanded a certain asceticism.  He wrote anthem after anthem to the qualities he believed essential to a republic—austerity, integrity, selfless public service—qualities that would become more military than civilian.  The contest was never for him less than a spiritual struggle.  It is impossible with Adams to determine where piety ended and politics began: the watermark of Puritanism shines through everything he wrote.  Faith was there from the start, as was the scrappy, iconoclastic spirit, as were the daring, disruptive excursions beyond the law.

-Stacy Schiff, The Revolutionary Samuel Adams

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