The Sam Adams running to be Portland’s next Mayor is getting some free publicity from the flap over two websites registered for his campaign by two local radio hosts. It seems that The Boston Beer Company, the makers of Samuel Adams Beer, objected to possible infringement on their trademarks.
But this shouldn’t be just a Sam Adams the candidate vs. Sam Adams the beer dispute. What would Founding Father Samuel Adams say about this flap over his name?
Founder Samuel Adams did hold elected office, and did own a brewery in Boston. But he was best known for organizing opposition to British rule in America. He was chief instigator of the Boston Tea Party (No taxation without representation) in 1773, and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Samuel Adams is the Founder who told us:
“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Perhaps the truest descendents of Founder Samuel Adams today are the activists who founded The Sam Adams Alliance, a grassroots group you can join online.
On its website, the Alliance explains that “Sam Adams inspired the American Revolution by encouraging ordinary people to take extraordinary steps to defend their liberty.” It sums up its position with this stirring statement:
We stand for the people, not the bureaucrat; for the property owner, not the government planner; for the freedom of citizens, not an ever-expanding government.
Founder Sam Adams died in 1803. If he were alive today, I doubt he would pay much attention to the dispute between the Portland mayoral candidate and the Boston beer company that claim his name. I think he would cast his lot with the activists at The Sam Adams Alliance. How about you?
Steve Buckstein is Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank.