He conceived a hatred for the British Empire and a desire for American independence well before anyone else did. Adams skillfully used mobs alongside legal pretense to incrementally spread his agenda. Others followed his example. In the Worcester Revolution of 1774, the local population shut down the normal operations of royal government in west and central Massachusetts and drove royal officials out of those regions (the book to read is Ray Raphael’s The First American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord). The British crown lost control of inland Massachusetts before Lexington and Concord were even fought.
However, eleven years later, when many of the same local residents attempted to do the same thing in protest of the policies of a now independent Massachusetts, the state government put down their rebellion with Samuel Adams’s strong support. The difference? An apocryphal remark attributed to Adams captures some of the truth behind his attitude: “the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death”. Mobs protesting the actions of an unrepresentative government like the British Parliament, Adams argued, were valid. Mobs protesting the actions of a representative government like Massachusetts’s state government, on the other hand, were treasonous. This doctrine, supported by other Revolutionary leaders, especially the cabal behind the Order of the Cincinnati, was eventually enshrined as the higher law of the land in the slow motion coup d’etat that overthrew the Articles of Confederation and replaced it with the more authoritarian United States Constitution in 1787–1788.