Monday, August 09, 2004

Adams, John

By then Adams's legal career was on the rise, and he had become a visible member of the resistance movement that questioned Parliament's right to tax the American colonies. In 1765 Adams published d, which justified opposition to the recently enacted Stamp Act—an effort to raise revenue by requiring all publications and legal documents to bear a stamp—by arguing that Parliament's intrusions into colonial affairs exposed the inherently coercive and corrupt character of English politics. Intensely combative, full of private doubts about his own capacities but never about his cause, Adams became a leading figure in the opposition to the Townshend Acts (1767), which imposed duties on imported commodities (i.e., glass, lead, paper, paint, and tea). Despite his hostility toward the British government, in 1770 Adams agreed to defend the British soldiers who had fired on a Boston crowd in what became known as the Boston Massacre. His insistence on upholding the legal rights of the soldiers, who in fact had been provoked, made him temporarily unpopular but also marked him as one of the most principled radicals in the burgeoning movement for American independence. He had a penchant for doing the right thing, most especially when it made him unpopular.

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