ADAMS, Samuel (1722-1803), Signer (Massachusetts), and Samuel A. OTIS. Manuscript document jointly signed ("S. Adams, Presdt") as President of the Massachusetts Senate and ("Sam. A. Otis, Speaker") as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. [Boston], 1 March 1785. 1 page, folio, 285 x 198mm., integral blank, very minor light stains at right-hand edge of sheet, otherwise in very fine condition.
TWO OLD REVOLUTIONARIES, WITH SHAY'S REBELLION BREWING, COMPLIMENT GOVERNOR HANCOCK ON HIS RECENT, TIMELY RESIGNATION
An interesting order of the Massachusetts legislature, adopted immediately after the resignation of Governor John Hancock, ostensibly for health reasons, but believed, by his enemies, to have been a convenient evasion of the problem of mounting insurrection in the interior counties, known as Shay's Rebellion, which came to a head in August 1786. The document orders that "Mr. [Nathaniel] Gorham, Mr. Bacon & Mr. Stearns shall join, be a Committee to wait on the late Governor Hancock, to thank him for the polite manner in which he resigned the Chair of Government, & to request a Copy of his Patriotick & Elegant Address on that Occasion." Beneath, Samuel A. Otis has written "sent up for concurrence" and signed; and beneath that, is another note "Read and Concurred & Caleb Strong and Willm. Heath Esq. are joined."
As President of the Senate, Adams became a representative of the most conservative elements in the legislature; rural discontent with the state constitution and tariffs caused increasing disaffection: "Like other revolutionists, Sam Adams disapproved of revolutions when they were begun by other people," and when Shay's rebellion broke out "regarded Shay as a rebel who deserved the halter" and was convinced that "there was no justification of forcible resistance to law in a government where voting was free" (J.C. Miller, Sam Adams: Pioneer in Propaganda, p,373). Adams become one of the most vocal advocates of strong action to suppress the rebellion and even gained passage of a bill suspending the right of habeas corpus, and opposed all attempts to propose a Federalist form of government.