Title [Samuel Adams]
Number 53260
Size 14" x 17"
Date 1796
Place Massachusetts
Category Signers of the Declaration
Price $4,500.00
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Scarce 1796 official broadside of the controversial Massachusetts resolution on the upcoming presidential election that placed John Adams in office and named Jefferson his Vice-President, signed in print by Declaration Signer and Massachusetts Governor Samuel Adams.
Broadside, Signed in Print by Samuel Adams, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, [Massachusetts Resolution on the Presidential Elections]. In Senate, June 4, 1796. Resolved, That the Selectmen… shall, in Manner the Law directs for calling Town Meetings, cause the Inhabitants thereof, duly qualified to vote… to assemble on Monday, the seventh Day of November next, to give in their Votes… for one Elector of President and Vice-President of the United States. [Boston]: Young and Minns, [1796]. Folio, original broadside leaf , 14" x 17" ), printed in two columns, inked notation of “Lincoln” on verso, untrimmed. Text expertly cleaned. Fine Condition.

“Revolutionary politician, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Massachusetts governor… Adams was one of the first Americans to accept the designation of ‘politician.’” This official 1796 broadside of a Massachusetts resolution on the first contested presidential election—a watershed in American politics—also possesses an intriguing history. As governor Adams would provoke a quarrel over his legislators’ decision, herein, to allow “the state’s presidential electors to replace any of their number who might die or resign. Adams signed the resolution the day he received it but soon reconsidered… Saying he had approved the resolution ‘prematurely,’ he maintained that permitting the electors to fill vacancies in their own ranks ‘appears to be dangerous to the Liberties of the People, and ought not to form a precedent in a free government’… Two days later Adams returned to the issue by emphasizing that he sought to avoid establishing ‘a dangerous Precedent’… Adams was clearly attempting to force the legislators to rescind their resolution by placing them on the wrong side of a basic rights issue” (Alexander, Samuel Adams, 215-6).

Although Adams failed to rescind the resolution, his insistence on the authority of the people, evidenced by his influence on the 1780 Massachusetts state constitution, affirms that “he was no less committed to the successful establishment of American republican government than he had been to that of colonial rights” (ANB). Adams retired from office in 1797 and at his death in 1803 was proclaimed as “the Father of the American Revolution” (Alexander, 221). This broadside is printed by Young and Minns, “printers to the state” and publishers of the Massachusetts Mercury, who also were the official printers of the Massachusetts Acts and Laws for each session: published the same year in Boston by Adams and Larkin, no priority established. With woodcut engraved state arms centered above the two-column printed text. The printed names of Samuel Phillips, President of the State Senate, Edward H. Robbins, Speaker of the Legislature, Samuel Adams, Governor, and John Avery, Secretary, appear at the end of the document. Ford, Broadsides, 2785. See Evans 30761. Contemporary inked notation of “Lincoln” on the verso.


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