Malkin Lecture: The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams

Thomas Jefferson asserted that if there was any leader of the Revolution, “Samuel Adams was the man.” John Adams thought his cousin “the most sagacious politician” of all. With high-minded ideals and bare-knuckle tactics, Adams led what could be called the greatest campaign of civil resistance in American history.

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff returns Adams to his seat of glory, introducing us to the shrewd, eloquent, and intensely disciplined man who supplied the moral backbone of the American Revolution. A singular figure at a singular moment, Adams packaged and amplified the Boston Massacre. He helped to mastermind the Boston Tea Party. He employed every tool in an innovative arsenal to rally a town, a colony, and eventually a band of colonies behind him, creating the cause that created a country. For his efforts he became the most wanted man in America: When Paul Revere rode to Lexington in 1775, it was to warn Samuel Adams that he was about to be arrested for treason.

In The Revolutionary, author Stacy Schiff brings her masterful skills to Adams’s improbable life, illuminating his transformation from aimless son of a well-off family to tireless, beguiling radical who mobilized the colonies. She is joined in conversation by Michael Gately to discuss the life of Samuel Adams and the process of writing this and other biographies.

Stacy Schiff is the author of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, winner of the George Washington Book Prize and the Ambassador Book Award; Cleopatra: A Life, winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for biography; and most recently, The Witches: Salem, 1692. Schiff has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and named a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the French Government.

Michael Gately is Assistant Director of the Center for American Studies at Columbia University and Executive Director of BIO, the international organization of biographers. He is currently writing a book about Woodrow Wilson and cycling in the 1890s.

Image: Samuel Adams, about 1772, by John Singleton Copley. Photograph © 2023 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.



November 14, 2023

Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 6:30pm
Doors open at 6:00pm
$25 (plus fees) General Admission
$22 (plus fees) Seniors and Students
     with Valid ID
$20 (plus fees) Members

Veterans Room

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