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Lost Episode for April 30

On April 30, 1776, Founding Father Samuel Adams wrote from Philadelphia to John Scollay, one of the Selectmen in Boston, celebrating the recent departure of the occupying British troops:

“Our grateful Acknowledgments are due to the Supreme Being who has not been regardless of the multiplied Oppressions which the Inhabitants of that City have sufferd under the Hand of an execrable Tyrant…

They are now restored to their Habitations & Privileges; and as they are purgd of those Wretches a Part of whose Policy has been to corrupt the Morals of the People, I am perswaded they will improve the happy opportunity of reestablishing ancient Principles and Purity of Manners…

I have long been convincd that our Enemies have made it an Object, to eradicate from the Minds of the People in general a Sense of true Religion & Virtue, in hopes thereby the more easily to carry their Point of enslaving them….

Revelation assures us that “Righteousness exalteth a Nation “—Communities are dealt with in this World by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general Character. The diminution of publick Virtue is usually attended with that of publick Happiness, and the publick Liberty will not long survive the total Extinction of Morals. “The Roman Empire, says the Historian, must have sunk, though the Goths had not invaded it. Why? Because the Roman Virtue was sunk.” Could I be assured that America would remain virtuous, I would venture to defy the utmost Efforts of Enemies to subjugate her. You will allow me to remind you, that the Morals of that City which has born so great a Share in the American Contest, depend much upon the Vigilance of the respectable Body of Magistrates of which you are a Member.”*

Founder Samuel Adams reminded a leader of Boston that part of his duty was to maintain public morality and that is a lost episode in American history.

*Source Citation: Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed., The Writings of Samuel Adams (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), 3:286.

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