Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 24, 2011

Freedom of Speech—Samuel Adams Shouted Down

American Debate

 
On the evening of October 26, 1791, Samuel Adams rose to speak against repealing the prohibition of theaters in Boston. Those of the town meeting wishing the repeal refused to allow him the courtesy.


Long may Americans revere the Saviours of their country, and on the records let the occasion be noted with the marked disapprobation of the town. Thus shall future generations of Americans, taught by our example the virtues of 1791, be ashamed to move their tongues, or their feet, when future ADAMS’S shall rise to speak.

From the Argus, November 1, 1791.

 

“TELL IT NOT IN GATH.”

—————

ON the morning after your last town-meeting, I was on Beacon-Hill, and casting my eyes on the Eastern side of the Monument, read these words—“AMERICANS, WHILE FROM THIS EMINENCE, SCENES OF LUXURIANT FERTILITY, OF FLOURISHING COMMERCE, AND THE ABODES OF SOCIAL HAPPINESS, MEET YOUR VIEW, FORGET NOT THOSE, WHO, BY THEIR EXERTIONS, HAVE SECURED TO YOU THESE BLESSINGS.

You need not wonder that the singular occurrence of the preceding evening, at Faneuil-hall, rushed into my mind. Shall Europe hear, shall our Southern brethren be told, that Samuel Adams rose to speak in the midst of his fellow citizens, and was silenced!

That, while others, who were born but in season to enjoy the blessings, which he earned, were applauded, SAMUEL ADAMS could not be heard!

Long may we remember that he rose to speak against the THEATRE in Boston, and could not be heard! Was he in fault that he wished to speak the sentiments of his heart, and to deliver the language of enlightened religion and truth? Do you blame him, that he wished at death, to leave his country virtuous as well as free?

RICHLY HAS HE EARNT THE RIGHT TO SPEAK, AND TO BE HEARD!

Is his voice weak?—That voice once made the proudest kingdom in Europe tremble to its centre. Does his hand shake?—That hand was once firm, strong were its sinews, and ably did it enforce the feelings of a firm heart.—In whose service has he grown grey? Was it difficult to hear him? We would have listened with double attention.—Did we doubt whether he would speak with wisdom? Then we had lost our memories.

Did we doubt whether he would speak the truth?—Then we must have lost our senses. Had such a thing happened in the days of enlightened Greece, we should never have read it, without being told of the marked disapprobation, with which the good, the virtuous, and the free regarded it. Such, I am happy to say, did on this occasion, discover (some by looks, and some in words) this generous spirit. Our measures are not to be carried by noise and cabal; not by silencing and drowning the voices of those who oppose us. The well-informed advocates of a Theatre did not wish nor attempt it. Judicious arguments and eloquence were used on both sides; but several men as well as boys, did unite to silence an eminent patriot.

It remains that I make a proposal, which will terminate this affair to the honour of the town.

Let the inscription which I have quoted, be copied into the vacant niche, left in the hall door, and under it these words,

“Translated from the monument, to this place,
“In honour of Samuel Adams. The name needs
“No title, nor testimony of applause.”

Long may Americans revere the Saviours of their country, and on the records let the occasion be noted with the marked disapprobation of the town. Thus shall future generations of Americans, taught by our example the virtues of 1791, be ashamed to move their tongues, or their feet, when future ADAMS’S shall rise to speak.

—J.P. Marten.


 


 

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