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Samuel Adams – Brewer and First American: Part Two

April 6th, 2009 by Beertheostorian A | 1 Comment | Filed in Biography, Post Gutenberg Press - 1440

By Beertheostorian A

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As I stated in the last installment, appropriate analysis would belie Adams reputation as a brewing slacker.  As we pointed out earlier Adams family had hit a rough patch in the 1740’s.

In 1748 Samuel Adam’s father dies. The estate went to his mother and  Samuel was left in charge of the brewery. His brother and brother-in-law assumed control over the profitable real estate holdings and other assets.  While the will forgave the £1000 debt, Samuel took responsibility for the continuing larger debts of the Land Bank. For the next ten years Adams traveled to and from court constantly losing battles with British officials over these debts as he constantly fell behind in payments.  In short, Samuel lost probably 2/3s of the estate to control by other family members, but assumed probably 75% of the debt, much of this debt created by changes in British policy over which he had no control. The lack of other capital and the constant legal rangling severely hampered his options.

Samuel, nonetheless, engaged in assiduous marketing and market research throughout the years by visiting pubs and taverns all around the Boston waterfront. He hid the obvious mercantile nature of his evening forays by constantly engaging in political discussions, generally anti-mercantilist, as he had when his father was alive. The goodwill this engendered among the public for beer sales, was countered by enmity it engendered with the British government. As a result, they made crushing Adams and his brewery a top priority in the colony. (As pointed out in the first installment of this article,  Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company, that now carries the Sam Adams label, unrestrained by 18th century social conventions against openly acquisitive behavior, and  not tempered by concern for the general welfare, jettisoned the political discussions that Samuel had to carry on, and shamelessly promoted his product.)

In 1764, the British political landscape for North America could not have etched a rosier view: the pesky French  were driven out of Canada; and the pesky Adams was being driven to the poorhouse as his brewery faltered and would close later that year. It would seem that the British position was unassailable. They had the most powerful brewing system in the world. They had control of the whole of the eastern seaboard to Florida, the Midwest and eastern Canada. They had such a brewing “surplus” in England, that they felt safe driving a large colonial brewery out of business.1
Yet, to achieve these goals they had run up huge debts, the legal fees to crush Adams probably amounted to more than the debts upon which they were ostensibly initiated to collect. The legal actions helped keep the brewery afloat longer, but it came with negative consequences such as taking Adams away from his duties at the brewery. With the closing of the brewery, Adams no longer was a powerful member of New England Society. Yet, through his extensive contacts developed from his marketing efforts, he successfully campaigned for the office of Boston Tax Collector. From this lesser position, Adams could begin to even the score with the British, by collecting far less in taxes from his fellow Bostonians, than was customarily expected by the British. Yet this was not enough, after all he had been a brewer, so virtually no position could replace that. He had to really stick it to the British. It was during this time between the close of the brewery and the beginning of the revolution that Adams recognized that he would have to lead a successful independence movement to adequately recompense him for the loss of the brewery.

This is what Adams did. He lead the Boston Tea Party, the Sons of Liberty and the Committees of Correspondence. He created a buzz that lead to the British occupying Boston, committing the Boston Massacre, 1770, and engaging in the disastrous Battles at Lexington, Concord, and the Battle Road route back to Boston, 1775. This last event demonstrated the weakness of the British Empire in the 13 colonies. But the underlying weakness stemmed from the majority of colonial brewers who faced stiff taxes and competitive restrictions. This allowed brewers exporting from Britain  to be price competitive with colonial brewers, despite the relatively astronomical transportation costs of the era. This only encouraged colonial brewers to swing behind the patriot cause.2 They saw what happened to Adams and realized Britain would not protect them, only destroy them. The basis for civilization had been undermined and the patriots had to recapture it, even if it meant creating an independent nation. Samuel Adams had his revenge; a new nation for his brewery. His successful efforts on behalf of American independence establish Adams as one of the earliest, most effective, and vocal leaders of the independence movement. A man who clearly deserves the moniker “First American.”3

1It is well established that local breweries were essential engines to colonial growth. See Generally, Smith, Gregg, Beer in America, The Early Years – 1587- 1840, Siris Book/Brewers Publications, 1998. After developing treaties with the Native Americans to slow colonial expansion west of the Appalachians as part of the settlement of the French and Indian War, the British must have recognized that brewery development, especially west of the Appalachians at this time could only threaten those treaties. Taking down a few established breweries east of the Appalachians could encourage ambitious new brewers to stay put rather than setting up shop west of the Appalachians. Moreover, it could have the added benefit of providing more of a market for English brews in the colonies. On the other hand it could scare all brewers and their fans into believing the only way to protect their beer was to drive the British from the colony.

2(The Editors) As previously stated the exact calculus of the combination of quantity and quality beer production to create imbeerialist power is unknown. Figuring out the total percentage of colonial brewers who fell in line with the revolutionary cause might go a long way towards helping determine the dividing lines. We do believe that someday, scientists and historians more intrepid than ourselves shall someday discover the exact formulas utilizing such statistical information.
Hopefully this will prevent governments from conducting wars that waste so much in lives, time, energy, and money, against nations that produce little beer and virtually none of any greatly redeeming quality, like Iraq and Vietnam. Instead they will be forced to invest that money and labor in the production of more great beer to the mutual benefit of all, including those living in nations like Vietnam and Iraq.
Undoubtedly the beer theory of history will be attacked as a Euro-centric historical theory supporting European colonialism, white supremacy and its attendant garbage. While it is an undisputed fact within the beer theory of history that native European based beer types are vastly superior to native American, native African or native Asian styles, this in no way justifies the gross misuse and abject misunderstanding of the source of that power by Europeans over the past four hundred years. Had native Europeans and their colonial descendants on other continents truly understood what they were literally holding in their hand the world would be a much better place.

(Beertheostorian A) Did I mention that the guys I take drinking are pompous liberal weanies. European and Euro-American cultures are superior because European style beers are superior. If it was not for European Imbeerialism, the world would be awash in second rate maize and millet beers.

3Bibliography
Lewis, Paul a/k/a Gerson, Noel B.: The Grand Incendiary, A Biography of Samuel Adams, The Dial Press, New York, 1973

http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95sep/adams.html

http://www.americanrevwar.homestead.com/files/ADAMS2.HTM

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/adams_s.htm

http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/samueladams2.htm

http://www.whitehouse.gov/kids/dreamteam/samueladams.html

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761569134/Samuel_Adams.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Adams

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=A000045

http://www.colonialhall.com/adamss/adamss3.php

It is well established that local breweries were essential engines to colonial growth. See Generally, Smith, Gregg, Beer in America, The Early Years – 1587- 1840, Siris Book/Brewers Publications, 1998. After developing treaties with the Native Americans to slow colonial expansion west of the Appalachians as part of the settlement of the French and Indian War, the British must have recognized that brewery development, especially west of the Appalachians at this time could only threaten those treaties. Taking down a few established breweries east of the Appalachians could encourage ambitious new brewers to stay put rather than setting up shop west of the Appalachians. Moreover, it could have the added benefit of providing more of a market for English brews in the colonies. On the other hand it could scare all brewers and their fans into believing the only way to protect their beer was to drive the British from the colony.
(The Editors) As previously stated the exact calculus of the combination of quantity and quality beer production to create imbeerialist power is unknown. Figuring out the total percentage of colonial brewers who fell in line with the revolutionary cause might go a long way towards helping determine the dividing lines. We do believe that someday, scientists and historians more intrepid than ourselves shall someday discover the exact formulas utilizing such statistical information.
Hopefully this will prevent governments from conducting wars that waste so much in lives, time, energy, and money, against nations that produce little beer and virtually none of any greatly redeeming quality, like Iraq and Vietnam. Instead they will be forced to invest that money and labor in the production of more great beer to the mutual benefit of all, including those living in nations like Vietnam and Iraq.
Undoubtedly the beer theory of history will be attacked as a Euro-centric historical theory supporting European colonialism, white supremacy and its attendant garbage. While it is an undisputed fact within the beer theory of history that native European based beer types are vastly superior to native American, native African or native Asian styles, this in no way justifies the gross misuse and abject misunderstanding of the source of that power by Europeans over the past four hundred years. Had native Europeans and their colonial descendants on other continents truly understood what they were literally holding in their hand the world would be a much better place.

(Beertheostorian A) Did I mention that the guys I take drinking are pompous liberal weanies. European and Euro-American cultures are superior because European style beers are superior. If it was not for European Imbeerialism, the world would be awash in second rate maize and millet beers.

Bibliography
Lewis, Paul a/k/a Gerson, Noel B.: The Grand Incendiary, A Biography of Samuel Adams, The Dial Press, New York, 1973

http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95sep/adams.html

http://www.americanrevwar.homestead.com/files/ADAMS2.HTM

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/adams_s.htm

http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/samueladams2.htm

http://www.whitehouse.gov/kids/dreamteam/samueladams.html

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761569134/Samuel_Adams.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Adams

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=A000045

http://www.colonialhall.com/adamss/adamss3.php

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Pg. 45 – Eames, Alan, The Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore and Little Known Facts, Storey Publishing, Pownal, VT 1995