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Archive for March, 2009

Samuel Adams – Brewer and First American: Part One

March 19th, 2009 by Beertheostorian A | 2 Comments | Filed in Biography, Essentials of Beertheostory

By Beertheostorian A

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“If ye love wealth greater than [good beer], the tranquility of [adjuncts] greater than the animating [forces of robust malt and hops], go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your [presence at our taverns]. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” Samuel Adams to Anheuser Busch and Coors “Brewing” Companies.
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As the label on the bottle says Samuel Adams was a brewer and a patriot.  Yet, what the hell does this have to do with the beer theory of history? Simple, before he became a famous patriot1, even more famous in some circles than Tom Brady; Samuel Adams was a brewer. This raises a significant issue, why would a brewer, later a tax collector, and a patriot, a man with his hands on the levers of power in, the richest colony of, what was at that time the largest and most successful unified beer brewing nation in the world, Great Britain, risk it all to defy that nation? The answer is simple, he lost those levers of power.

Samuel Adams, born into a wealthy family which owned one of the best breweries and rum distilleries of its day, entered the business around 1744. Traditional biographers claim he had no heart for the business and that it failed, around 1764, because of Sam’s negligence and deep interest in radical politics. Beertheostorian A openly disputes this weanie wine drinking pinko liberal interpretation of Adams and points to Adams sub-conscious understanding of the Beer Theory of History as the explanation for his actions. Certain facts undermine this commonly held thesis2, and it is the failure of the brewing business that ultimately lead him to risk all to throw off the yoke of British tyranny in Massachusetts, and the 13 colonies.

As you know the beer theory of history states that the nation that brews the most and best beer is the most powerful nation on earth3. Samuel Adams sensed this theory as reality, maybe not on any conscious level, but at a gut level.

Many biographers implied that he ran the business into the ground. That he caroused around at night tavern hopping discussing politics with his peers. In the morning he was never in any condition to run the business. Before we address this insulting aspersion cast upon one of our founding fathers, lets look at what Samuel Adams inherited4.

Adams entered the brewing business on poor footing, from an aggressive business perspective. First off the business was recognized as one of the great producers of its product in the region, and for rum, possibly the world, since Boston was the home of the world’s greatest rum producers in the mid 1700’s; so there was no place to go but down if he changed too many things. Second, in 1740 Samuel’s father lost almost 1/3 of his wealth when the British Government devalued paper currency and made illegal certain forms of backing paper currency. The “Deacon” Adams, as he was called, was one of the largest partners, in a Land Bank which apparently issued paper money and when the laws came through he was holding or backing the paper currency.

Sam, being a dutiful son, would later join the board of the debt ridden Land Bank assuming some of the debt for himself. In or around 1743, Sam borrowed £1000 from his dad. This was a huge sum in those days. He set up a business with a partner, who he trusted, who then promptly went out and lost the money in what was a rather scandalous manner for mid 18th century Boston. Now he comes in, in 1744, and starts working in his father’s successful brewery. What do you think is going through his mind? That’s right,”Don’t mess this up.” Therefore, he figures his best move is to stay out of the way and not try anything too aggressive.

In the meantime he and his father are out promoting their product by discussing popular subversive  politics in the evening at the local taverns. It would have been impolitic to simply discuss the virtues of their product in the 18th Century5. Jim Koch never had such limitations when promoting his versions of Sam Adams Beer. Yet, this activity did little to endear the younger Adams with British officials. Unfortunately, biographers have interpreted this marketing activity as evidence of Samuel Adams lack of interest in the brewing business, but appropriate analysis of the facts belie this interpretation. We will address some of those issues in the next installment of this article6.

1(The Editors) First off Adams died before the first football game was ever played, so how can you call him a Patriot. Secondly, even if he played some variation of football the term patriot should be placed in quotes because the legitimate governing authority during most of Samuel Adams life was Great Britain, not the United States. Moreover, what Samuel Adams is most remembered for is not his service to the United States, as a member of the Continental Congress and various other positions including Governor of Massachusetts, but his efforts to undermine the power and authority of the British government in the North American colonies, more specifically Massachusetts. The true patriots of this time were the “Tories,” because they remained loyal to their nation of citizenship, Great Britain. In other words Samuel Adams was a “revolutionary”, an “insurgent”, a “freedom fighter, ” yet it is technically questionable to call him a patriot. We refrain from placing the term patriot in quotes because Beertheostorian A, being a jingoistic Alpha male dog type would probably threaten to rip our heads off. More importantly, he would probably stop buying the beer.

(Beertheostorian A) Damn Skippy on the buying of the beer!

2(The Editors) Most facts tend to support this commonly held thesis.

3See Beer Theory of History – An Introduction

4(The Editors) It seems that Beertheostorian A thinks that any negative analysis of one of the icons of the American revolution is a dastardly act of sniveling cowards.
(Beertheostorian A) Such aspersions of our cultural icons are dastardly acts of sniveling cowards. The kind of wine drinking pinko analysis I would expect from the likes of Max Nelson, Bonaventure Porter or Lev Beerstein.
(The Editors) Did we mention that Beertheostorian A is a pompous jingoistic misanthropic, misogynistic, homophobic Euro-centric Alpha male dog type who pays for our beer.

5 It should be noted that in Colonial America while rich people were the center of power, the older medieval structure where power centered on the birthright of individuals of military descent still held sway. This power structure still overlaid the power structures in colonial America. By those standards the ideas that all men of wealth or property regardless of their family descent, should have an equal voice in the government was a radical idea. Both Adams took this a step further and even advocated for the artisans and skilled workers, probably realizing that failure to advocate for them would leave them short of bargaining chips in the case a non-violent political solution could be achieved and foot soldiers if violence became necessary.

6Bibliography
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

(The Editors) First off Adams died before the first football game was ever played, so how can you call him a Patriot. Secondly, even if he played some variation of football the term patriot should be placed in quotes because the legitimate governing authority during most of Samuel Adams life was Great Britain, not the United States. Moreover, what Samuel Adams is most remembered for is not his service to the United States, as a member of the Continental Congress and various other positions including Governor of Massachusetts, but his efforts to undermine the power and authority of the British government in the North American colonies, more specifically Massachusetts. The true patriots of this time were the “Tories,” because they remained loyal to their nation of citizenship, Great Britain. In other words Samuel Adams was a “revolutionary”, an “insurgent”, a “freedom fighter, ” yet it is technically questionable to call him a patriot. We refrain from placing the term patriot in quotes because Beertheostorian A, being a jingoistic Alpha male dog type would probably threaten to rip our heads off. More importantly, he would probably stop buying the beer.

(Beertheostorian A) Damn Skippy on the buying of the beer!

(The Editors) Most facts tend to support this commonly held thesis.
(The Editors) It seems that Beertheostorian A thinks that any negative analysis of one of the icons of the American revolution is a dastardly act of sniveling cowards.
(Beertheostorian A) Such aspersions of our cultural icons are dastardly acts of sniveling cowards. The kind of wine drinking pinko analysis I would expect from the likes of Max Nelson, Bonaventure Porter or Lev Beerstein.
(The Editors) Did we mention that Beertheostorian A is a pompous jingoistic misanthropic, misogynistic, homophobic Euro-centric Alpha male dog type who pays for our beer.
It should be noted that in Colonial America while rich people were the center of power, the older medieval structure where power centered on the birthright of individuals of military descent still held sway. This power structure still overlaid the power structures in colonial America. By those standards the ideas that all men of wealth or property regardless of their family descent, should have an equal voice in the government was a radical idea. Both Adams took this a step further and even advocated for the artisans and skilled workers, probably realizing that failure to advocate for them would leave them short of bargaining chips in the case a non-violent political solution could be achieved and foot soldiers if violence became necessary.
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