Samuel Adams, the beer company, caused a Yankee Doodle dust-up on the Fourth of July when it aired its new commercial featuring an actor paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence but leaving God out of the quote.
In the commercial, the actor says, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The actual quote from the Declaration reads, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Samuel Adams, the Founding Father, would no doubt be appalled, as are many customers of the beer company, which has been receiving numerous complaints on its Facebook page.
In its defense, the beer company’s representatives say that the rules governing beer ads prevent them from mentioning God in beer commercials.
The company issued a statement that said, “The Beer Institute Advertising Code says, ‘Beer advertising and marketing materials should not include religion or religious themes.’ We agree with that and try to adhere to these guidelines. While we understand your objection to the omission of the phrase ‘by our creator’ in other circumstances (after all, they occur in the Declaration of independence which Samuel Adams signed and helped author), we believe it would be outside our industry guidelines to invoke those religious words in a beer commercial.”
It seems more like an instance of political correctness at the beer company than something that would have resulted in any real problems, to change a quote from the Declaration of Independence that every school child should know. (Then again, the Freedom From Religion Foundation does love to file frivolous lawsuits over the least little mention of God.)
Whatever the case, it is true the Founding Fathers enjoyed their beer … and their rum … and their wine. But they didn’t talk about it that much considering how much alcohol they consumed.
Ben Franklin is often misquoted as saying that beer is a sign that God loves us, but he was actually talking about wine. In a 1779 letter to Andre Morellet, Franklin wrote, “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
Samuel Adams, after whom the beer company is named, is not known for any quotes about beer. That’s not surprising, since he lost the family brewery. The modern beer company was founded in 1985.
Adams was the Oscar Madison of the Founding Fathers. Not only was he a poor businessman, but he was a sloppy dresser, albeit he was popular in Boston social circles. When he was first nominated to office, a group of his supporters came to his door in the middle of the night with a new suit and shoes so he wouldn’t embarrass them in public.
As a political leader, Adams was a firebrand. For years, there was a rumor circulating that the first shot at the Boston Massacre was actually fired by him from a hiding spot in some bushes. In fact, he was the one who coined the term “Boston Massacre” as part of his propaganda effort to stir up hatred against the British.
The beer company’s statement about Adams correctly names him a signer of the Declaration, though it is incorrect about him being an author. It was his cousin John Adams who was on the Declaration Committee with Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman.
Samuel Adams, however, would no doubt have something to say about a rule that restricts free speech and prevents a company from mentioning God in advertisements:
“If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.”
As for beer, Ben Franklin did say, “There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.” And he should know.