Stacy Schiff’s Revolutionary Samuel Adams


This Sonoma Valley Authors Festival Students Day, SVHS welcomed New York Times best selling historian and Pulitzer prize winner Stacy Schiff, interviewed by celebrated journalist Julia Flynn Siler. They discussed Schiff’s most recent book, The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, detailing the life of one of the most prominent, but often overlooked, fathers of the American Revolution.

Described by Schiff as, “the patron saint of late bloomers, Adams would prove a political genius.” Schiff spoke about how Adams had an initially slow start to his success, running a small, unsuccessful shop in Britain with a wife and child before he decided to move to what were the colonies at the time. He would go on to become a  prominent writer, often using several pseudonyms (at least 30 in Schiff’s count) to encourage people to take up arms against the increasingly strict and taxing British.

Schiff first took interest in Samuel Adams after writing her 2015 book The Witches: Salem, 1692, searching for a voice of reason after spending years researching the Salem witch trials. Her previous books have profiled Cleopatra, Ben Franklin, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of The Little Prince).

Unlike his more famous second cousin, John Adams (second president of the United States), Samuel Adams faded in influence and recognition following the end of the Revolutionary War. Still, Schiff portrays and believes him to have been a, “master propagandist,” whose connections between rebel cells in Boston made him an invaluable member of the increasing anti-monarchy discourse. 

Schiff dedicated her most recent book to her eleventh grade history teacher who helped spark her interest in American history. Likewise, with the AP United States History test just days away, many soon to be test takers paid close attention, asking clarifying questions, and picking Schiff’s colonial history mind.