Thursday, June 4, 2009

John Adams, founding father and Sons of Liberty

We need to read and reread the original sources of our history. I’m reading the life of John Adams. In my opinion, he was the most profound intellectual stimulus in the American Revolution.

The following is an excerpt from the book John Adams, by Page smith, from vol.1 pages 110 and 111.

The entire quote is in red below. Please excuse any typos.

Take note of the informal creed they affirmed with their toasts, and the song they sang. Both of these cemented into their hearts and minds the need to be willing to fight for their freedoms. This all happened close to a decade before the actual war of the revolution took place.

The author is describing the events along with John Adam’s opinion of them.

There was no sign that the crisis with England would soon be dissipated. Rather, there was every indication that common action in behalf of colonial liberties would be a continued necessity. Such action must be guided and directed, must be turned from meaningless violence to restrained and orderly protest; a feeling of solidarity must be created and a temper that would, if worst came to worst, dare the utmost. This spirit must be forged and the day of testing anticipated. On the fourth anniversary of the founding of the Sons of Liberty, three hundred and fifty Sons gathered at Robinson’s Liberty Tree Tavern in Dorchester. Two large tables were laid in the open field beside a barn with an awning of sailcloth stretched overhead. A little “Tory” rain fell on the patriots but not enough to dampen their spirits. Philemon Dickinson, brother of the famous Philadelphia lawyer, John Dickinson, who had written an eloquent attack on the Townshend duties under the title of “Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer,” was guest of the Sons along with Joseph Reed of New Jersey.

After a dinner washed down with generous quantities of cider came the toasts. These were the central feature of the patriotic festivals. They usually numbered forty-five in honor of the forty-fifth issue of the North Briton, the paper of John Wilkes, enemy of tyranny and advocate of the colonial cause. Forty-five gave the toastmaster a good deal to work with and considerably elevated the temper of the company. On this occasion as on most others, the toasts started with one to the King and then to the Queen, the Prince of Wales, Pitt, Conway, Barre and other “friends to colonial liberties,” to John Wilkes himself, to the thirteen sister colonies, to Runnymede and Magna Carta, to trial by jury and the classic inventory of an Englishman’s rights, and finally to “the speedy removal of all task-masters, and the redress of all grievances…the abolition of all craft and low cunning in Church and State,” and threateningly, “strong halters, firm blocks, and sharp axes, to such as deserve either,” followed by the discharge of a small cannon and three loud, if ragged cheers.

The toasts at such gatherings served as a kind of creedal statement. They were educational (in case some lately recruited patriots were slightly muddled about the principles of liberty) and inspiring, as they served to fix in men’s minds the main points at issue between the Mother Country and the colonies.

After the toasts there was other entertainment. John Balch, famous as a mimic, diverted the company with “The Lawyer’s Head” and “The Hunting of a Bitch Fox.” Then came the Liberty Song, written by John Dickinson and set to the tune of an old English drinking ballad:

Come, join hand in hand, brave Americans all,

And rouse your bold hearts at fair liberty’s call.

No tyrannous acts shall suppress your just fame,

Or stain with dis

honor America’s name.

Then the chorus …

In freedom we’re born and in freedom we’ll live,

Our right arms are ready,

Steady, men, steady.

Not as slaves but as freemen, our lives we will give.


  1. How nice! I'm a direct descendant of Joseph Reed, and hadn't heard of his involvement at this Sons of Liberty meeting. He was known later for other stuff, while his wife was known as a Daughter of Liberty. They were both uppity sorts.

  2. Thats pretty cool im a relative of John Adams and i have to do a paper on him so i am learning all i can about him. Sierra

  3. This should be the attitude and mind set of todays Americans. Unfortunately it is of very few. The average American today is to busy or to preoccupied by frivolous distractions and their own lives to REALLY uphold the love and need for liberty that these men lived every day. Our nation is in tragic times and the majority of citizens today take their freedom and liberties for granted and believe that such things can never be taken from them. Although everyday our rights and civil liberties are being slowly stripped away from us. The constitution of the United States has been deserted for what seems to be the Corporate Constitution of the United States. People today see militias as an enemy of the government instead of what they are. The right and the DUTY of Americas citizens to uphold the Constitution and what it stands for against any threat to our liberties from outsiders and from our own government. Any man who would give up even a small amount of his liberties for safety, deserves niether liberty or safety. Ben Franklin. People do not seem to understand that the 2nd amendment was not given to us for us to go hunting or protect our homes from burglars. It was given for the assurance that the Citizuns of the US would never have to live in fear or have the inability to fight back the oppression of thier own government. An awakening is needed in the masses in order for our children's children to inherit what our founding fathers intended and fought for. Long Live The Republic...