In Boston in early summer of 1765 a group of shopkeepers and artisans who called themselves The Loyal Nine, began preparing for agitation against the Stamp Act. As that group grew, it came to be known as the Sons of Liberty. And grow it did! These were not the leading men of Boston, but rather workers and tradesmen. It was unseemly that they would be so agitated by a parliamentary act. Though their ranks did not include Samuel and John Adams, the fact may have been a result of a mutually beneficial agreement. The Adams' and other radical members of the legislature were daily in the public eye; they could not afford to be too closely associated with violence, neither could the secretive Sons of Liberty afford much public exposure. However, amongst the members were two men who could generate much public sentiment about the Act. Benjamin Edes, a printer, and John Gill of the Boston Gazette produced a steady stream of news and opinion. Within a very short time a group of some two thousand men had been organized under Ebenezer McIntosh, a South Boston shoemaker.
The first widely known acts of the Sons took place on August 14, 1765, when an effigy of Andrew Oliver (who was to be commissioned Distributor of Stamps for Massachusetts) was found hanging in a tree on Newbury street, along with a large boot with a devil climbing out of it. The boot was a play on the name of the Earl of Bute and the whole display was intended to establish an evil connection between Oliver and the Stamp Act. The sheriffs were told to remove the display but protested in fear of their lives, for a large crowd had formed at the scene. Before the evening a mob burned Oliver's property on Kilby street, then moved on to his house. There they beheaded the effigy and stoned the house as its occupants looked out in horror. They then moved to nearby Fort Hill were they built a large fire and burned what was left of the effigy. Most of the crowd dissipated at that point, however McIntosh and crew, then under cover of darkness, ransacked Oliver's abandoned home until midnight. On that evening it became very clear who ruled Boston. The British Militia, the Sheriffs and Justices, kept a low profile. No one dared respond to such violent force.
By the end of that year the Sons of Liberty existed in every colony. Their most popular objective was to force Stamp Distributors throughout the colonies to resign. The groups also applied pressure to any Merchants who did not comply with the non-importation associations. Wherever these groups existed they were either directed in secret by leading men in the community or actually lead by them. However, there were opportunists everywhere, too, who would use the name Sons of Liberty to carry out acts of revenge and other violence not related to the cause. For example, in South Carolina a group of sailors, calling themselves The Sons of Liberty, formed a mob to coerce money from people on the streets*. Such behavior could certainly undermine the cause, so the Sons spent a great deal of time policing themselves and pretenders. This was the origin on names such as "True Sons," and "True-born Sons" of Liberty.