Background: Samuel Adams (1722-1803), the American Revolutionist and brewer, is said to have had a tremor. There has not been a formal study of the clinical characteristics and progression of his tremor. Objective: To use historical accounts and original materials to document the clinical characteristics and progression of Adams' tremor. Materials: In addition to historical accounts of Adams, the following materials were reviewed: 1) Samuel Adams' known writings, including personal and political letters, published posthumously in a four-volume book; and 2) original letters and speeches (handwritten by Adams) that are held in collection in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library. Results: Adams had a tremor that affected his hands, head, and voice. Although mild, the tremor was already manifest when Adams was in his early 40s. Adams, who was very prolific, experienced progressive difficulty with his ability to write while in his 50s and early 60s. His letters contain frequent references to his illness and reveal a penmanship that became more compromised with time. By age 71, he was forced to dictate all his correspondence. His tremor was familial, affecting his daughter Hannah and her children. Conclusions: Samuel Adams' progressive tremor rendered him unable to write his own letters for the last 10 years of his life. Adams had one of the earliest documented cases of essential tremor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology