By Joe Bendel. It is always bad news for an oppressive government when the wealthy elites start making common cause with the drunken rabble. Such was the case at the Second Continental Congress. Bostonians Sam Adams and John Hancock had little in common, but they both loathed paying British taxes. Together with their fellow patriots, they changed history and ultimately founded our great nation. Their early skirmishes on the streets of Boston and the campaign to unify all thirteen colonies are dramatized in the History Channel’s three-night mini-series Sons of Liberty, which begins this Sunday.
Not surprisingly, Sam Adams was a terrible tax collector. When his leniency evolves into outright insurrection, Loyalist Governor Thomas Hutchinson calls for his head. For the sake of stability, the wealthy merchant John Hancock tries to play peacemaker, paying off Adams’ debts and convincing the future revolutionary leader to cool his rhetoric. However, Hutchinson soon radicalizes the moderate Hancock by clamping down on both his legitimate mercantile and smuggling operations (which were largely indistinguishable in duty-despising 1760s Massachusetts). Tensions build until blood is finally shed in 1770, concluding the first night of the series with the Boston Massacre.
At this point Dr. Joseph Warren enters the story, not just to tend to the wounded, but also as a prominent patriot in his own right. Those who know their history will understand what lies in store for him, but at least he gets the mini’s only love scene with Margaret Kemble Gage, the New Jersey-born wife of the brutal new military governor, Gen. Thomas Gage. Their affair may or may not have been true, but there is enough historical speculation to justify its inclusion here.