John Adams, 2nd President of the USA, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

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John Adams, Jr.

Also Known As: "President John Adams", "2nd US President"
Birthdate: (90)
Birthplace: Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Death: July 4, 1826 (90)
Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States (debility - old age; most likely heart failure caused by arteriosclerosis)
Place of Burial: Quincy, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Deacon John Adams, Sr. and Susanna Adams (Boylston)
Husband of Abigail (Smith) Adams, First Lady of the United States
Father of Hon. John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the USA; Susanna Boylston Adams; Charles Francis Adams; Elizabeth Adams; Mary Ann Adams and 3 others
Brother of Capt. Peter Boylston Adams; Capt. Elihu Adams; Peter Adams; James Adams; Margaret Peggy Adams and 3 others

Occupation: 2nd President of the United States, Writer, Vice President under Washington, Harvard Graduate 1755, Politician, Lawyer, founding father
Managed by: Gene Daniell
Last Updated:

About John Adams, 2nd President of the USA, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Please note: He passed away July 4, 1826 at the age of 90= Middle name was Edmund in some records.

A Patriot of the American Revolution for MASSACHUSETTS. (SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ) DAR Ancestor # A000585Find A Grave Memorial# 6

John Adams, 2nd President of the USA, met Abigail Smith and by 1762 they were exchanging frankly affectionate love letters full of mischievous humor. Their wedding, on October 25, 1764, began one of history's great partnerships. They were lovers, friends, counselors, and mentors to one another into old age. John did not resent his wife's abilities to manage a farm and raise a family without him during his long absences on the nation's business. Rather, he took considerable pride in her accomplishments. He told her she was so successful in budgeting, planting, managing staff, regulating live-stock, buying provisions, nursing and educating her children, that their neighbors would surely remark on how much better things seemed to go in his absence.

From 1783-88, Abigail accompanied her husband on diplomatic missions to France and England. Afterwards, she was glad to return to their farm in Braintree (Quincy). She told Thomas Jefferson she preferred her farm to "the court of St. James, where I seldom meet with characters so inoffensive as my hens and chickens, or minds so well improved as my garden."

The following anecdote, related by him, even to the last days of his life, with all the good humour which was so charactistic of him, it is presumed, has not yet passed away from the minds of many who have heard it from his own lips.

"When I was a boy, I had to study the Latin Grammar, but it was dull and I hated it. My father was anxious to send me to College, and therefore I studied the Grammar till I could bear with it no longer; and going to my father, I told him I did not like study, and asked for some other employment. It was opposing his wishes and he was quick in his answer, "Well John," said he, "if Latin Grammar does not suit you, you may try ditching, perhaps that will; my meadow yonder needs a ditch, and you may put by Latin and try that." This seemed a delightful change, and to the meadow I went. But I soon found ditching harder than Latin, and the first forenoon was the longest I ever experienced. That day I ate the bread of labour, and glad was I when night came on. That night I made some comparison between Latin Grammar and ditching, but said not a word about it. I dug the next afternoon, and wanted to return to Latin at dinner, but it was humiliating, and I could not do it. At night, toil conquered pride, and I told my father, one of the severest trials of my life, that if he chose, I would go back to Latin Grammar. He was glad of it, and if I have since gained any distinction, it has been owning to the two days labour in that abominable ditch."

From the "History of Quncy" by the Rev. George Whitney

He Graduated Harvard in 1755

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He was Samuel Adams, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, 2nd Cousin (according to Geni)

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He died at 6 PM on the 4th of July, 1826. It is well-known that he and his friend, Thomas Jefferson, another drafter of the Declaration of Independence, died on the same day, on the 50th anniversary of that Declaration. Previous to the 4th of July, he had been solicited to give a sentiment for his fellow townsmen on that days' celebration. "I will give," said he, "Independence forever." On being asked if he would add anything, he answered, "not a syllable." That sentiment was being shouted at the celebrations, perhaps at the very moment of his death.

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Learned and thoughtful, John Adams was more remarkable as a political philosopher than as a politician. "People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity," he said, doubtless thinking of his own as well as the American experience.

Adams was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1735. A Harvard-educated lawyer, he early became identified with the patriot cause; a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, he led in the movement for independence.

During the Revolutionary War he served in France and Holland in diplomatic roles, and helped negotiate the treaty of peace. From 1785 to 1788 he was minister to the Court of St. James's, returning to be elected Vice President under George Washington. Adams' two terms as Vice President were frustrating experiences for a man of his vigor, intellect, and vanity. He complained to his wife Abigail, "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the Nation.

His administration focused on France, where the Directory, the ruling group, had refused to receive the American envoy and had suspended commercial relations.

Adams sent three commissioners to France, but in the spring of 1798 word arrived that the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand and the Directory had refused to negotiate with them unless they would first pay a substantial bribe. Adams reported the insult to Congress, and the Senate printed the correspondence, in which the Frenchmen were referred to only as "X, Y, and Z."

The Nation broke out into what Jefferson called "the X. Y. Z. fever," increased in intensity by Adams's exhortations. The populace cheered itself hoarse wherever the President appeared. Never had the Federalists been so popular.

Congress appropriated money to complete three new frigates and to build additional ships, and authorized the raising of a provisional army. It also passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, intended to frighten foreign agents out of the country and to stifle the attacks of Republican editors.

President Adams did not call for a declaration of war, but hostilities began at sea. At first, American shipping was almost defenseless against French privateers, but by 1800 armed merchantmen and U.S. warships were clearing the sea-lanes.

Despite several brilliant naval victories, war fever subsided. Word came to Adams that France also had no stomach for war and would receive an envoy with respect. Long negotiations ended the quasi war.

Sending a peace mission to France brought the full fury of the Hamiltonians against Adams. In the campaign of 1800 the Republicans were united and effective, the Federalists badly divided. Nevertheless, Adams polled only a few less electoral votes than Jefferson, who became President.

On November 1, 1800, just before the election, Adams arrived in the new Capital City to take up his residence in the White House. On his second evening in its damp, unfinished rooms, he wrote his wife, "Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof."

Adams retired to his farm in Quincy. Here he penned his elaborate letters to Thomas Jefferson. Here on July 4, 1826, he whispered his last words: "Thomas Jefferson survives." But Jefferson had died at Monticello a few hours earlier.


Second president of the United States.


Early life

John Adams, Jr., the eldest of two brothers, was born on October 30, 1735 (October 19, 1735 by the Old Style, Julian calendar), in Braintree, Massachusetts, to John and Susanna Boylston Adams. The location of Adams's birth became part of Quincy, Massachusetts in 1792 and is now part of Adams National Historical Park. His father, also named John (1690–1761), was a fourth-generation descendant of Henry Adams, who immigrated from Barton St David, Somerset, England, to Massachusetts Bay Colony in about 1636, from a Welsh male line called Ap Adam. His father was a farmer, a Congregationalist (that is, Puritan) deacon, a lieutenant in the militia and a selectman, or town councilman, who supervised schools and roads. His mother, Susanna Boylston Adams,[2] was a descendant of the Boylstons of Brookline.

Adams was born to a modest family, but he felt acutely the responsibility of living up to his family heritage: the founding generation of Puritans, who came to the American wilderness in the 1630s and established colonial presence in America. The Puritans of the great migration “believed they lived in the Bible. England under the Stuarts was Egypt; they were Israel fleeing …to establish a refuge for godliness, a city upon a hill.” By the time of John Adams's birth in 1735, Puritan dogma such as predestination no longer convinced many people, and many of their stricter practices had mellowed with time, but John Adams “considered them bearers of freedom, a cause that still had a holy urgency.” It was a value system he believed in, and a heroic model he wished to live up to.

Young Adams went to Harvard College at age sixteen (in 1751). His father expected him to become a minister, but Adams had doubts. After graduating in 1755, he taught school for a few years in Worcester, allowing himself time to think about his career choice. After much reflection, he decided to become a lawyer and studied law in the office of James Putnam, a prominent lawyer in Worcester. In 1758, Adams was admitted to the bar. From an early age, he developed the habit of writing descriptions of events and impressions of men which are scattered through his diary. He put the skill to good use as a lawyer, often recording cases he observed so that he could study and reflect upon them. His report of the 1761 argument of James Otis in the superior court of Massachusetts as to the legality of Writs of Assistance is a good example. Otis’s argument inspired Adams with zeal for the cause of the American colonies.

In 1764, Adams married Abigail Smith (1744–1818), the daughter of a Congregational minister, Rev. William Smith, at Weymouth, Massachusetts. Their children were Abigail (1765–1813), future president John Quincy (1767–1848), Susanna (1768–1770); Charles (1770–1800), Thomas Boylston (1772–1832), and the stillborn Elizabeth (1775).

Adams was not a popular leader like his second cousin, Samuel Adams. Instead, his influence emerged through his work as a constitutional lawyer and his intense analysis of historical examples, together with his thorough knowledge of the law and his dedication to the principles of republicanism. Adams often found his inborn contentiousness to be a constraint in his political career.

Career before the Revolution 19th-century etching of Adams

Opponent of Stamp Act 1765

Adams first rose to prominence as an opponent of the Stamp Act of 1765, which was imposed by the British Parliament to assuage British war debts as well as the expense of keeping a standing army in the American colonies against possible Indian revolt. Popular resistance, he later observed, was sparked by an oft-reprinted sermon of the Boston minister, Dick Mayhew, interpreting Romans 13 so as to elucidate the principle of just insurrection.

In 1765, Adams drafted the instructions which were sent by the inhabitants of Braintree to its representatives in the Massachusetts legislature, and which served as a model for other towns to draw up instructions to their representatives. In August 1765, he anonymously contributed four notable articles to the Boston Gazette (republished in The London Chronicle in 1768 as True Sentiments of America and also known as A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law). In the letter he suggested that there was a connection between the Protestant ideas that Adams's Puritan ancestors brought to New England and the ideas behind their resistance to the Stamp Act. In the former he explained that the opposition of the colonies to the Stamp Act was because the Stamp Act deprived the American colonists of two basic rights guaranteed to all Englishmen, and which all free men deserved: rights to be taxed only by consent and to be tried only by a jury of one's peers.

The "Braintree Instructions" were a succinct and forthright defense of colonial rights and liberties, while the Dissertation was an essay in political education.

In December 1765, he delivered a speech before the governor and council in which he pronounced the Stamp Act invalid on the ground that Massachusetts, being without representation in Parliament, had not assented to it.

Boston Massacre: 1770

In 1770, a street confrontation resulted in British soldiers killing five civilians in what became known as the Boston Massacre. The soldiers involved, who were arrested on criminal charges, had trouble finding legal counsel. Finally, they asked Adams to defend them. Although he feared it would hurt his reputation, he agreed. Six of the soldiers were acquitted. Two who had fired directly into the crowd were charged with murder but were convicted only of manslaughter.

As for Adams's payment, Chinard alleges that one of the soldiers, Captain Thomas Preston gave Adams a symbolic "single guinea" as a retaining fee, the only fee he received in the case. However, David McCullough states in his biography of Adams that he received nothing more than a retainer of eighteen guineas. Adams's own diary confirms that Preston paid an initial ten guineas and a subsequent payment of eight, "all the pecuniary Reward I ever had for fourteen or fifteen days labour, in the most exhausting and fatiguing Causes I ever tried."

Despite his previous misgivings, Adams was elected to the Massachusetts General Court (the colonial legislature) in June 1770, while still in preparation for the trial.

Dispute concerning Parliament's authority

In 1772, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson announced that he and his judges would no longer need their salaries paid by the Massachusetts legislature, because the Crown would henceforth assume payment drawn from customs revenues. Boston radicals protested and asked Adams to explain their objections. In "Two Replies of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to Governor Hutchinson" Adams argued that the colonists had never been under the sovereignty of Parliament. Their original charter was with the person of the king and their allegiance was only to him. If a workable line could not be drawn between parliamentary sovereignty and the total independence of the colonies, he continued, the colonies would have no other choice but to choose independence.

In Novanglus; or, A History of the Dispute with America, From Its Origin, in 1754, to the Present Time Adams attacked some essays by Daniel Leonard that defended Hutchinson's arguments for the absolute authority of Parliament over the colonies. In Novanglus Adams gave a point-by-point refutation of Leonard's essays, and then provided one of the most extensive and learned arguments made by the colonists against British imperial policy.

It was a systematic attempt by Adams to describe the origins, nature, and jurisdiction of the unwritten British constitution. Adams used his wide knowledge of English and colonial legal history to show the provincial legislatures were fully sovereign over their own internal affairs, and that the colonies were connected to Great Britain only through the King.

Continental Congress

Massachusetts sent Adams to the first and second Continental Congresses in 1774 and from 1775 to 1778. In June 1775, with a view of promoting the union of the colonies, he nominated George Washington of Virginia as commander-in-chief of the army then assembled around Boston. His influence in Congress was great, and almost from the beginning, he sought permanent separation from Britain. John Adams, as depicted on a two-cent American president postage stamp John Adams, as depicted on a two-cent American president postage stamp

On May 15, 1776 the Continental Congress, in response to escalating hostilities which had commenced thirteen months earlier at the battles of Lexington and Concord, urged that the colonies begin constructing their own constitutions, a precursor to becoming independent states. The resolution to draft independent constitutions was, as Adams put it, "independence itself."

Over the next decade, Americans from every state gathered and deliberated on new governing documents. As radical as it was to actually write constitutions (prior convention suggested that a society's form of government needn't be codified, nor should its organic law be written down in a single document), what was equally radical was the nature of American political thought as the summer of 1776 dawned.

Thoughts on Government

At that time several Congressmen turned to Adams for advice about framing new governments. Adams tired of repeating the same thing, and published the pamphlet Thoughts on Government (1776), which was subsequently influential in the writing of many state constitutions. Many historians argue that Thoughts on Government should be read as an articulation of the classical theory of mixed government. Adams contended that social classes exist in every political society, and that a good government must accept that reality. For centuries, dating back to Aristotle, a mixed regime balancing monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, or the monarch, nobles, and people was required to preserve order and liberty.

Using the tools of Republicanism in the United States, the patriots believed it was corrupt and nefarious aristocrats, in the English Parliament and stationed in America, who were guilty of the British assault on American liberty. Unlike others, Adams thought that the definition of a republic had to do with its ends, rather than its means. He wrote in Thoughts on Government, "there is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; because the very definition of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.'" Thoughts on Government defended bicameralism, for "a single assembly is liable to all the vices, follies, and frailties of an individual." He also suggested that the executive should be independent, as should the judiciary. Thoughts on Government was enormously influential and was referenced as an authority in every state-constitution writing hall. Trumbull's Declaration of Independence depicts the five-man committee presenting the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. Adams is standing in the center with his hand on his hip. Trumbull's Declaration of Independence depicts the five-man committee presenting the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. Adams is standing in the center with his hand on his hip.

Declaration of Independence

On June 7, 1776, Adams seconded the resolution of independence introduced by Richard Henry Lee that "these colonies are, and of a right ought to be, free and independent states," and championed the resolution until it was adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776.

He was appointed to a committee of FIVE with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman, to draft a Declaration of Independence. Although that document was written primarily by Jefferson, Adams occupied the foremost place in the debate on its adoption. Many years later, Jefferson hailed Adams as "the pillar of [the Declaration's] support on the floor of Congress, it’s [sic] ablest advocate and defender against the multifarious assaults it encountered."

In 1777, Adams resigned his seat on the Massachusetts Superior Court to serve as the head of the Board of War and Ordnance, as well as many other important committees.

In Europe

Congress twice dispatched Adams to represent the fledgling union in Europe, first in 1777, and again in 1779. Accompanied by his oldest son, Adams sailed for France aboard the Continental Navy frigate Boston on February 15, 1778. Although chased several times by British warships, the only action seen during the voyage was the bloodless capture of a British privateer.

His first stay in Europe, between April 1, 1778, and June 17, 1779, was largely unproductive, and he returned to his home in Braintree in early August 1779.

Between September 1 and October 30, 1779, he drafted the Massachusetts Constitution together with Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin. He was selected in September 1779 to return to France and, following the conclusion of the Massachusetts constitutional convention, left on November 15 aboard the French frigate Sensible.

On the second trip, Adams was appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary charged with the mission of negotiating a treaty of peace and a treaty of commerce with France. The French government, however, did not approve of Adams’s appointment and subsequently, on the insistence of the French foreign minister, the Comte de Vergennes, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay and Henry Laurens were appointed to cooperate with Adams, although Jefferson did not go to Europe and Laurens was posted to Holland (the Netherlands). In the event Jay, Adams and Franklin played the major part in the negotiations. Overruling Franklin and distrustful of Vergennes, Jay and Adams decided not to consult with France. Instead, they dealt directly with the British commissioners.

Throughout the negotiations, Adams was especially determined that the right of the United States to the fisheries along the Atlantic coast should be recognized. The American negotiators were able to secure a favorable treaty, which gave Americans ownership of all lands east of the Mississippi, except Florida, which was transferred to Spain as its reward. The treaty was signed on November 30, 1782.

After these negotiations began, Adams had spent some time as the ambassador in the Netherlands, then the only other well-functioning Republic in the world. In July 1780, he had been authorized to execute the duties previously assigned to Laurens. With the aid of the Dutch patriot leader Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, Adams secured the recognition of the United States as an independent government at The Hague on April 19, 1782.[25] During this visit, he also negotiated a loan of five million guilders financed by Nicolaas van Staphorst and Wilhelm Willink.[ In October 1782, he negotiated with the Dutch a treaty of amity and commerce, the first such treaty between the United States and a foreign power following the 1778 treaty with France. The house that Adams purchased during this stay in The Netherlands became the first American embassy on foreign soil anywhere in the world.[ For two months during 1783, Adams lodged in London with radical publisher John Stockdale.

In 1785, John Adams was appointed the first American minister to the Court of St. James's (ambassador to Great Britain). When he was presented to his former sovereign, George III, the King intimated that he was aware of Adams's lack of confidence in the French government. Adams admitted this, stating: "I must avow to your Majesty that I have no attachment but to my own country.”

Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain referred to this episode on July 7, 1976 at the White House. She said, "John Adams, America's first Ambassador, said to my ancestor, King George III, that it was his desire to help with the restoration of 'the old good nature and the old good humor between our peoples.' That restoration has long been made, and the links of language, tradition, and personal contact have maintained it."

Adams's British residence, a house off London's Grosvenor Square, still stands and is commemorated by a plaque. He returned to the United States in 1788 to continue his domestic political life.

Constitutional ideas

Massachusetts's new constitution, ratified in 1780 and written largely by Adams himself, structured its government most closely on his views of politics and society. It was the first constitution written by a special committee and ratified by the people. It was also the first to feature a bicameral legislature, a clear and distinct executive with a partial (2/3) veto (although he was restrained by an executive council), and a distinct judicial branch.

While in London, Adams published a work entitled A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States (1787). In it he repudiated the views of Turgot and other European writers as to the viciousness of the framework of state governments. Turgot argued that countries that lacked aristocracies needn't have bicameral legislatures. He thought that republican governments feature “all authorities into one center, that of the nation.” In the book, Adams suggested that "the rich, the well-born and the able" should be set apart from other men in a senate—that would prevent them from dominating the lower house. Wood (2006) has maintained that Adams had become intellectually irrelevant by the time the Federal Constitution was ratified. By then, American political thought, transformed by more than a decade of vigorous and searching debate as well as shaping experiential pressures, had abandoned the classical conception of politics which understood government as a mirror of social estates. Americans' new conception of popular sovereignty now saw the people-at-large as the sole possessors of power in the realm. All agents of the government enjoyed mere portions of the people's power and only for a limited period of time. Adams had completely missed this concept and revealed his continued attachment to the older version of politics.[ Yet Wood overlooks Adams's peculiar definition of the term "republic," and his support for a constitution ratified by the people.[34] He also underplays Adams's belief in checks and balances. "Power must be opposed to power, and interest to interest,” Adams wrote; this sentiment would later be echoed by James Madison's famous statement that "[a]mbition must be made to counteract ambition" in The Federalist No. 51, in explaining the powers of the branches of the United States federal government under the new Constitution. Adams did as much as anyone to put the idea of "checks and balances" on the intellectual map.

Adams never bought a slave and declined on principle to employ slave labor. Abigail Adams opposed slavery and employed free blacks in preference to her father's two domestic slaves. He spoke out against a bill to emancipate slaves in Massachusetts, opposed use of black soldiers in the Revolution, and tried to keep the issue out of national politics.

Vice Presidency

While Washington won unanimously in the popular vote and won 69 votes in the electoral college, Adams came in second in the electoral college with 34 votes and became Vice President in the presidential election of 1789. He played a minor role in the politics of the early 1790s and was re-elected in 1792. Washington seldom asked Adams for input on policy and legal issues during his tenure as vice president.

Adams's main task while in office was presiding over the Senate. Subsequent Vice Presidents were also generally not powerful or significant members of their President's administrations until after the Second World War.

In the first year of Washington's administration, Adams became deeply involved in a month-long Senate controversy over what the official title of the President would be. Adams favored grandiose titles such as "His Majesty the President" or "His High Mightiness" over the simple "President of the United States" that eventually won the debate. The pomposity of his stance, along with his being overweight, led to Adams earning the nickname "His Rotundity."

As president of the Senate, Adams cast 29 tie-breaking votes—a record that only John C. Calhoun came close to tying, with 28. His votes protected the president's sole authority over the removal of appointees and influenced the location of the national capital. On at least one occasion, he persuaded senators to vote against legislation that he opposed, and he frequently lectured the Senate on procedural and policy matters. Adams's political views and his active role in the Senate made him a natural target for critics of the Washington administration. Toward the end of his first term, as a result of a threatened resolution that would have silenced him except for procedural and policy matters, he began to exercise more restraint. When the two political parties formed, he joined the Federalist Party, but never got on well with its dominant leader Alexander Hamilton. Because of Adams's seniority and the need for a northern president, he was elected as the Federalist nominee for president in 1796, over Thomas Jefferson, the leader of the opposition Democratic-Republican Party. His success was due to peace and prosperity; Washington and Hamilton had averted war with Britain with the Jay Treaty of 1795.

Adams's two terms as Vice President were frustrating experiences for a man of his vigor, intellect, and vanity. He complained to his wife Abigail, "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

Election of 1796

   Main article: United States presidential election, 1796

During the presidential campaign of 1796 Adams was the presidential candidate of the Federalist Party and Thomas Pinckney, the Governor of South Carolina, was also running as a Federalist (at this point, the vice president was whoever came in second, so no running mates existed in the modern sense). The Federalists wanted Adams as their presidential candidate to crush Thomas Jefferson's bid. Most federalists would have preferred Hamilton to be a candidate. Although Hamilton and his followers supported Adams, they also held a grudge against him. They did consider him to be the lesser of the two evils. However, they thought Adams lacked the seriousness and popularity that had caused Washington to be successful, and also feared that Adams was too vain, opinionated, unpredictable, and stubborn to follow their directions.

Adams's opponents were former Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who was joined by Senator Aaron Burr of New York on the Democratic-Republican ticket.

As was customary, Adams stayed in his home town of Quincy rather than actively campaign for the Presidency. He wanted to stay out of what he called the silly and wicked game. His party, however, campaigned for him, while the Republicans campaigned for Jefferson.

It was expected that Adams would dominate the votes in New England, while Jefferson was expected to win in the Southern states. In the end, Adams won the election by a narrow margin of 71 electoral votes to 68 for Jefferson (who became the vice president).

Presidency: 1797–1801

Foreign policy

When Adams entered office, he realized that he needed to protect Washington’s policy of staying out of the French and British war. Because the French helped secure American independence from Britain, they had greater popularity with America. After the Jay Treaty, the French became angry and began seizing American merchant ships that were trading with the British in what became known as the "Quasi-War." Adams sent a commission to negotiate an understanding with France. However, Adams urged the Congress to augment the navy and army in case of diplomatic failure.

Domestic policies

   See also: 1797 State of the Union Address

As President Adams followed Washington's lead in making the presidency the example of republican values, and stressing civic virtue, he was never implicated in any scandal. Some historians consider his worst mistake to be keeping the old cabinet, which was controlled by Hamilton, instead of installing his own people, confirming Adams's own admission he was a poor politician because he "was unpractised in intrigues for power."[43] Yet, there are those historians who feel that Adams's retention of Washington's cabinet was a statesman-like step to soothe worries about an orderly succession. As Adams himself explained, "I had then no particular object of any of them." That would soon change. Adams's combative spirit did not always lend itself to presidential decorum, as Adams himself admitted in his old age: "[As president] I refused to suffer in silence. I sighed, sobbed, and groaned, and sometimes screeched and screamed. And I must confess to my shame and sorrow that I sometimes swore."

Adams's four years as president (1797–1801) were marked by intense disputes over foreign policy. Britain and France were at war; Adams and the Federalists favored Britain, while Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans favored France. An undeclared naval war between the U.S. and France, called the Quasi-War, broke out in 1798. The humiliation of the XYZ Affair, in which the French demanded huge bribes before any discussions could begin, led to serious threats of full-scale war with France and embarrassed the Jeffersonians, who were friends to France. The Federalists built up the army under George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, built warships, such as USS Constitution, and raised taxes. They cracked down on political immigrants and domestic opponents with the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were signed by Adams in 1798.

These Acts were composed of four separate and distinct units:

   * The Naturalization Act, passed on June 18
   * The Alien Act, passed on June 24
   * The Alien Enemies Act, passed on July 6
   * The Sedition Act, passed on July 14

These four acts were brought about to suppress Republican opposition. The Naturalization Act doubled the period required to naturalize the foreign born to American citizenship to 14 years. Since most immigrants voted republican they thought by initiating this act it would decrease the proportion of people who voted republican. The Alien Friends Act and the Alien Enemies Act allowed the president to deport any foreigner that he thought was dangerous to the country.

The Sedition Act criminalized anyone who publicly criticized the federal government. Some of the punishments included 2–5 years in prison and fines of $2,000 to $5,000. Adams had not designed or promoted any of these acts but he did sign them into law.

Those acts, and the high-profile prosecution of a number of newspaper editors and one Congressman by the Federalists, became highly controversial. Some historians have noted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were relatively rarely enforced, as only 10 convictions under the Sedition Act have been identified and as Adams never signed a deportation order, and that the furor over the Alien and Sedition Acts was mainly stirred up by the Democratic-Republicans. However, other historians emphasize that the Acts were highly controversial from the outset, resulted in many aliens leaving the country voluntarily, and created an atmosphere where opposing the Federalists, even on the floor of Congress, could and did result in prosecution. The election of 1800 became a bitter and volatile battle, with each side expressing extraordinary fear of the other party and its policies.

The deep division in the Federalist party came on the army issue. Adams was forced to name Washington as commander of the new army, and Washington demanded that Hamilton be given the second position. Adams reluctantly gave in. Major General Hamilton virtually took control of the War department. The rift between Adams and the High Federalists (as Adams's opponents were called) grew wider. The High Federalists refused to consult Adams over the key legislation of 1798; they changed the defense measures which he had called for, demanded that Hamilton control the army, and refused to recognize the necessity of giving key Democratic-Republicans (like Aaron Burr) senior positions in the army (which Adams wanted to do in order to gain some Democratic-Republican support). By building a large standing army the High Federalists raised popular alarms and played into the hands of the Democratic-Republicans. They also alienated Adams and his large personal following. They shortsightedly viewed the Federalist party as their own tool and ignored the need to pull together the entire nation in the face of war with France.

For long stretches, Adams withdrew to his home in Massachusetts. In February 1799, Adams stunned the country by sending diplomat William Vans Murray on a peace mission to France. Napoleon, realizing the animosity of the United States was doing no good, signaled his readiness for friendly relations. The Treaty of Alliance of 1778 was superseded and the United States could now be free of foreign entanglements, as Washington advised in his own Farewell Letter. Adams avoided war, but deeply split his own party in the process. He brought in John Marshall as Secretary of State and demobilized the emergency army.

Re-election campaign 1800

   Main article: United States presidential election, 1800

The death of Washington, in 1799, weakened the Federalists, as they lost the one man who symbolized and united the party. In the presidential election of 1800, Adams and his fellow Federalist candidate, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, went against the Republican duo of Jefferson and Burr. Hamilton tried his hardest to sabotage Adams's campaign in hopes of boosting Pinckney's chances of winning the presidency. In the end, Adams lost narrowly to Jefferson by 65 to 73 electoral votes. Just before his loss, he became the first President to occupy the new, but unfinished President's Mansion on November 1, 1800.

Among the causes of his defeat were distrust of him by "High Federalists" led by Hamilton, the popular disapproval of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the popularity of his opponent, Thomas Jefferson, and the effective politicking of Aaron Burr in New York State, where the legislature (which selected the electoral college) shifted from Federalist to Democratic-Republican on the basis of a few wards in New York City controlled by Burr's machine.

Midnight Judges

As his term was expiring, Adams appointed a series of judges, called the "Midnight Judges" because most of them were formally appointed days before the presidential term expired. Most of the judges were eventually unseated when the Jeffersonians abolished their offices. But John Marshall remained, and his long tenure as Chief Justice of the United States represents the most lasting influence of the Federalists, as Marshall refashioned the Constitution into a nationalizing force and established the Judicial Branch as the equal of the Executive and Legislative branches.

Major presidential actions

   * Built up the U.S. Navy
   * Fought the Quasi War with France
   * Signed Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
   * Ended war with France through diplomacy

Speeches

Inaugural Addresses

   * Inaugural Address (March 4, 1797)

State of the Union Address

   * First State of the Union Address (November 22, 1797)
   * Second State of the Union Address, (December 8, 1798)
   * Third State of the Union Address, (December 3, 1799)
   * Fourth State of the Union Address, (November 22, 1800)

Cabinet The Adams Cabinet Office Name Term President John Adams 1797–1801 Vice President Thomas Jefferson 1797–1801 Secretary of State Timothy Pickering 1797–1800 John Marshall 1800–1801 Secretary of Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr. 1797–1801 Samuel Dexter 1801 Secretary of War James McHenry 1796–1800 Samuel Dexter 1800–1801 Attorney General Charles Lee 1797–1801 Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert 1798–1801

Supreme Court appointments

Adams appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

   * Bushrod Washington – 1799
   * Alfred Moore – 1800
   * John Marshall (Chief Justice) – 1801

Post presidency

Following his 1800 defeat, Adams retired into private life. Depressed when he left office, he did not attend Jefferson's inauguration. He went back to farming at his farm, Peacefield, in the Quincy area.

In 1812, Adams reconciled with Jefferson. Their mutual friend Benjamin Rush, who had been corresponding with both, encouraged Adams to reach out to Jefferson. Adams sent a brief note to Jefferson, which resulted in a resumption of their friendship, and initiated a correspondence that lasted the rest of their lives.

Their letters are rich in insight into both the period and the minds of the two Presidents and revolutionary leaders. Their correspondence lasted fourteen years, and consisted of 158 letters.[52] It was in these years that the two men discussed "natural aristocracy." Jefferson said that "The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of society. May we not even say that the form of government is best which provides most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government?" Adams wondered if it ever would be so clear who these people were, "Your distinction between natural and artificial aristocracy does not appear to me well founded. Birth and wealth are conferred on some men as imperiously by nature, as genius, strength, or beauty. . . . When aristocracies are established by human laws and honour, wealth, and power are made hereditary by municipal laws and political institutions, then I acknowledge artificial aristocracy to commence." It would always be true, Adams argued, that fate would bestow influence on some men for reasons other than true wisdom and virtue. That being the way of nature, he thought such "talents" were natural. A good government, therefore, had to account for that reality.

Sixteen months before his death, his son, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth President of the United States (1825–1829), the only son of a former President to hold the office until George W. Bush in 2001.

His daughter Abigail ("Nabby") was married to Congressman William Stephens Smith. She died of cancer in 1813. His son Charles died as an alcoholic in 1800. Abigail, his wife, died of typhoid on October 28, 1818. His son Thomas and his family lived with Adams and Louisa Smith (Abigail's niece by her brother William) to the end of Adams's life.

Death Tombs of Presidents John Adams (distance) and John Quincy Adams (foreground) and their wives, in a family crypt beneath the United First Parish Church.

On July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Adams died at his home in Quincy. His last words are often quoted as "Jefferson lives." Only the word "Jefferson" was clearly intelligible, however. Adams was unaware that Jefferson, his compatriot in their quest for independence, then great political rival, then later friend and correspondent, had died a few hours earlier on the very same day.

His crypt lies at United First Parish Church (also known as the Church of the Presidents) in Quincy. Until his record was broken by Ronald Reagan in 2001, he was the nation's longest-living President (90 years, 247 days) maintaining that record for 175 years. The record is currently held by former President Gerald Ford, who served less than one term, and who died December 26, 2006 at 93 years, 165 days.

John Adams remains the longest-lived person ever elected to both of the highest offices in the United States.

Religious views The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. (September 2008) Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved.

Adams was raised a Congregationalist, becoming a Unitarian at a time when most of the Congregational churches around Boston were turning to Unitarianism. Everett (1966) argues that Adams was not a deist,[need quote] but he used deistic terms in his speeches and writing. He believed in the essential goodness of the creation, but did not believe in the divinity of Christ or that God intervened in the affairs of individuals. He also believed that regular church service was beneficial to man's moral sense. Everett concludes that "Adams strove for a religion based on a common sense sort of reasonableness" and maintained that religion must change and evolve toward perfection. United First Parish Church

Adams often railed against what he saw as overclaiming of authority by the Catholic church.

In 1796, Adams denounced political opponent Thomas Paine's criticisms of Christianity, saying, "The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard Paine say what he will."

The Unitarian Universalist Historical Society sheds some light on Adams’s religious beliefs. They quote from his letter to Benjamin Rush, an early promoter of Universalist thought, “I have attended public worship in all countries and with all sects and believe them all much better than no religion, though I have not thought myself obliged to believe all I heard.” The Society also relates how Rush reconciled Adams to his former friend Thomas Jefferson in 1812, after many bitter political battles. This resulted in correspondence between Adams and Jefferson about many topics, including philosophy and religion. In one of these communications, Adams told Jefferson, "The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion." In another letter, Adams reveals his sincere devotion to God, “My Adoration of the Author of the Universe is too profound and too sincere. The Love of God and his Creation; delight, Joy, Tryumph, Exaltation in my own existence, tho' but an Atom, a molecule Organique, in the Universe, are my religion.” He continues by revealing his Universalist sympathies, rejection of orthodox Christian dogma, and his personal belief that he was a true Christian for not accepting such dogma, “Howl, Snarl, bite, Ye Calvinistick! Ye Athanasian Divines, if You will. Ye will say, I am no Christian: I say Ye are no Christians: and there the Account is ballanced. Yet I believe all the honest men among you, are Christians in my Sense of the Word." The Society also demonstrates that Adams rejected orthodox Christian doctrines of the trinity, predestination, yet equated human understanding and the human conscience to “celestial communication” or personal revelation from God. It is also shown that Adams held a strong conviction in life after death or otherwise, as he explained, “you might be ashamed of your Maker.”



John Adams From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search This article is about the politician and second president of the United States. For other uses, see John Adams (disambiguation). John Adams

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2nd President of the United States In office March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801 Vice President Thomas Jefferson Preceded by George Washington Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson

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1st Vice President of the United States In office April 21, 1789 – March 4, 1797 President George Washington Preceded by None Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson

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United States Ambassador to Great Britain In office 1785 – 1788 Appointed by Congress of the Confederation Preceded by New office Succeeded by Thomas Pinckney In office 1782 – 1788 Appointed by Congress of the Confederation Preceded by New office Succeeded by Charles W. F. Dumas

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Delegate from Massachusetts to the Second Continental Congress In office May 10, 1775 – 1778

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Delegate from Province of Massachusetts Bay to the First Continental Congress In office September 5, 1774 – October 26, 1774

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links

Vice President [Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of The United States Of America Thomas Jefferson

Predecessor: George Washington Successor: Thomas Jefferson

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John Adams & Family Abigail Adams Letters http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007156093

John Adams Family Papers http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/

John Adams Letters to Abigail http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000365217

John Adams Papers and Addresses http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/adamspap.asp

John Adams Works http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Fperson=3791&Itemid=28

John Quincy Adams Diaries http://www.masshist.org/jqadiaries/

John Quincy Adams Memoirs http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000405801


John Adams was an American patriot who served as the second President of the United States (1797–1801) and the first Vice President (1789–97).[1] He was a lawyer, diplomat, statesman, political theorist, and, as a Founding Father, a leader of the movement for American independence from Great Britain. He was also a dedicated diarist and correspondent, particularly with his wife and closest advisor Abigail.

John Adams collaborated with his cousin, revolutionary leader Samuel Adams, but he established his own prominence prior to the American Revolution. After the Boston Massacre, he provided a successful (though unpopular) legal defense of the accused British soldiers, in the face of severe local anti-British sentiment and driven by his devotion to the right to counsel and the "protect[ion] of innocence".[2] Adams was a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress, where he played a leading role in persuading Congress to declare independence. He assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and was its foremost advocate in the Congress. As a diplomat in Europe, he helped negotiate the eventual peace treaty with Great Britain, and acquired vital governmental loans from Amsterdam bankers. Adams was the primary author of the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780. This influenced the development of America's own constitution, as did his earlier Thoughts on Government (1776).

Adams's credentials as a revolutionary secured for him two terms as President George Washington's vice president (1789 to 1797) and also his own election in 1796 as the second president. In his single term as president, he encountered fierce criticism from the Jeffersonian Republicans, as well as the dominant faction in his own Federalist Party, led by his rival Alexander Hamilton. Adams signed the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts, and built up the army and navy in the face of an undeclared naval "Quasi-War" with France. The major accomplishment of his presidency was a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the face of Hamilton's opposition. Due to his strong posture on defense, Adams is "often called the father of the American Navy".[3] He was the first U.S. president to reside in the executive mansion, now known as the White House.

In 1800, Adams lost re-election to Thomas Jefferson and retired to Massachusetts. He eventually resumed his friendship with Jefferson upon the latter's own retirement by initiating a correspondence which lasted fourteen years. He and his wife established a family of politicians, diplomats, and historians now referred to as the Adams political family. Adams was the father of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States. He died on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and the same day as Jefferson. Modern historians in the aggregate have favorably ranked his administration.

John Adams was born on October 30, 1735 (October 19, 1735 Old Style, Julian calendar) to John Adams Sr. (1691–1761) and Susanna Boylston (1708–1797). He had two younger brothers, Peter and Elihu.[4] Adams' birthplace was then in Braintree, Massachusetts (now Quincy, Massachusetts), and is preserved at Adams National Historical Park. Adams' mother was from a leading medical family of present-day Brookline, Massachusetts.[4] His father was a deacon in the Congregational Church, a farmer, a cordwainer, and a lieutenant in the militia. His great-grandfather, Henry Adams, emigrated to Massachusetts from Braintree, Essex, England around 1638.[5] John Sr. also served as a selectman (town councilman) and supervised the building of schools and roads. Adams often praised his father and recalled their close relationship.[4]

Though raised in modest surroundings, Adams felt an acute responsibility to live up to his family's heritage of reverence. He was a direct descendant of Puritans who came to the American wilderness in the 1630s, established a colonial presence in America, and profoundly affected the culture, laws, and traditions of their region. Journalist Richard Brookhiser wrote that Adams' Puritan ancestors "believed they lived in the Bible. England under the Stuarts was Egypt; they were Israel fleeing ... to establish a refuge for godliness, a city upon a hill."[6] By the time of John Adams' birth in 1735, Puritan tenets such as predestination were no longer as widely accepted, and many of their stricter practices had moderated with time, but Adams "considered them bearers of freedom, a cause that still had a holy urgency." It was a value system which he believed in and wished to live up to.[6] Adams emphatically recalled that his parents "held every Species of Libertinage in... Contempt and horror," and portrayed "pictures of disgrace, or baseness and of Ruin" from any debauchery.[7]

Adams, as the eldest child, was under a mandate from his parents to obtain a formal education. This began at age six at a Dame school for boys and girls, which was conducted at a teacher's home and centered upon The New England Primer. Shortly thereafter, Adams attended Braintree Latin School under Joseph Cleverly, where studies included Latin, rhetoric, logic, and arithmetic. Adams' reflections on early education were in the negative mostly, including incidents of truancy, a dislike for his master, and a desire to become a farmer. All questions on the matter ended when his father commanded that he remain in school saying, "You shall comply with my desires." Deacon Adams also retained a new school master named Joseph Marsh, and his son responded positively.[4]

College education and adulthood At age sixteen, Adams entered Harvard College in 1751. He studied under Joseph Mayhew.[8] He did not share his father's expectation that he become a minister. After graduating in 1755 with an A.B. degree, he taught school for a few years in Worcester, Massachusetts while pondering his permanent vocation. In the next four years, he discerned a passion for prestige, saying that he craved "Honour or Reputation" and "more defference from [his] fellows" and, at age twenty-one, he was determined to become "a great Man".[4] He decided to become a lawyer to further those ends, writing his father that he found among lawyers "noble and gallant achievements" but, among the clergy, the "pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces." Doctrinally, he later became a Unitarian, and dropped belief in predestination, eternal damnation, the divinity of Christ, and most other Calvinist beliefs of his Puritan ancestors. Nevertheless, his remnant Puritanism frequently prompted reservations about his hunger for fame, which he once referred to as mere "trumpery", and he questioned his not properly attending to the "happiness of [his] fellow men."[4]

The French and Indian War began in 1754 and Adams began to struggle with the issue of a young man's responsibility in the conflict; contemporaries of his social position were largely spectators, while those who were less solvent joined the battle as a means to make some money. Adams later said, "I longed more ardently to be a Soldier than I ever did to be a Lawyer." He was acutely aware that he was the first in his family that "degenerated from the virtues of the house so far as not to have been an officer in the militia."[4]

Law practice and marriage Woman with deep black hair and dark eyes wearing a blue and pink dress Mrs. Abigail Smith Adams – 1766 Portrait by Benjamin Blythe Adams followed the usual course of reading the law in order to obtain his license to practice. In 1756, he became an apprentice in the office of John Putnam, a leading lawyer in Worcester.[4] In 1758, he earned an A.M. from Harvard,[9] and the following year was admitted to the Massachusetts bar, having completed his studies under Putnam.[10] From an early age, he developed the habit of writing descriptions of events and impressions of men which are scattered through his diary, which included his report of the 1761 argument of James Otis Jr. in the Massachusetts Superior Court as to the legality of Writs of Assistance. Otis's argument inspired Adams to the cause of the American colonies.[11]

In 1763, he had published seven essays in Boston newspapers, treatises that represented his forging into the convoluted realm of political theory. The essays were offered anonymously, with Adams using the nom de plume "Humphrey Ploughjogger"; this author reappeared in the Boston Gazette in 1765 to oppose the Stamp Act.[12] Adams was initially not as well known as his cousin Samuel, but his influence emerged through his work as a constitutional lawyer and his in-depth analysis of historical examples, together with his dedication to the principles of republicanism. Even so, Adams often found his inborn contentiousness to be a constraint in his political career.[13]

Adams married his third cousin Abigail Smith (1744–1818) on October 25, 1764. Her parents were Elizabeth Quincy and Rev. William Smith, a Congregational minister at Weymouth, Massachusetts.[14] They had six children: Abigail "Nabby" in 1765,[15] future president John Quincy Adams in 1767,[16] Susanna in 1768, Charles in 1770, Thomas in 1772,[17] and Elizabeth in 1777.[18] Susanna died after about a year,[17] while Elizabeth was stillborn.[18]

Career before the Revolution Opponent of Stamp Act 1765 Man in dark gray clothing with dark hair John Adams – 1766 Portrait by Benjamin Blyth Adams first rose to prominence leading widespread opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765, imposed by the British Parliament without consulting the American legislatures, and requiring payment of a direct tax by the colonies for various stamped documents. Adams authored the "Braintree Instructions" in 1765, a letter sent to the representatives of Braintree in the Massachusetts legislature which served as a model for other towns' instructions.[12] In the piece, he explained that the Stamp Act should be opposed since it denied two fundamental rights guaranteed to all Englishmen, and which all free men deserved: rights to be taxed only by consent and to be tried only by a jury of one's peers. The instructions were a succinct and forthright defense of colonial rights and liberties.[12]

In August 1765, he reprised his pen name "Humphrey Ploughjogger" and contributed four articles to the Boston Gazette (republished in The London Chronicle in 1768 as True Sentiments of America, also known as A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law). He delivered a speech in December before the governor and council in which he pronounced the Stamp Act invalid on the ground that Massachusetts had not given its assent to it, being without representation in Parliament.[19][20] He later observed that many protests were sparked by an oft-reprinted sermon of Boston minister Jonathan Mayhew, invoking Romans 13 to justify insurrection.[21] In 1766, a town meeting of Braintree elected John Adams as a selectman.[22] Adams strongly supported the right of all Americans to jury trials. Adams protested the 1765 passage of the Stamp Act, which gave jurisdiction to British Vice Admiralty Courts, rather than common law courts.[23] Many colonists, including Adams, believed these courts, which operated without a jury, were corrupt and unfair.[24]

Adams moved the family to Boston in April 1768, renting a clapboard house on Brattle Street that was known locally as the "White House." He and Abigail and the children lived there for a year, then moved to Cold Lane; still later, they moved again to a larger house in Brattle Square in the center of the city.[16]

Counsel for the British: Boston Massacre On March 5, 1770, a street confrontation resulted in British soldiers killing five civilians in what came to be known as the Boston Massacre.[25] The accused soldiers were arrested on criminal charges and had trouble finding legal representation. Adams ultimately agreed to defend them, though he feared that it would hurt his reputation. In arguing their case, Adams made his legendary statement regarding jury decisions: "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."[2] He also expounded upon Blackstone's Ratio: "It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, 'whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,' and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever." Adams won an acquittal for six of the soldiers. Two of them who had fired directly into the crowd were charged with murder but were convicted only of manslaughter. Adams was paid a small sum by his clients.[26][27]

Biographer John Ferling suggests that Adams made the most of juror selection during the jury selection stage of the trial, saying that Adams "expertly exercised his right to challenge individual jurors and contrived what amounted to a packed jury. Not only were several jurors closely tied through business arrangements to the British army, but five ultimately became Loyalist exiles." Hiller B. Zobel is a scholar who has closely studied the trial, and he concluded, "we can be fairly sure that before a single witness had been sworn, the outcome of the trial was certain." Ferling also surmises that Adams may have been encouraged to take the case in exchange for political office; one of Boston's seats opened three months later in the Massachusetts legislature, and Adams was the town's first choice to fill the vacancy.[25]

His law practice increased greatly from this exposure, as did the demands on his time. In 1771, he moved Abigail and the children to Braintree, but he kept his office in Boston, saying, "I shall spend more Time in my Office than ever I did." He also noted on the day of the family's move, "Now my family is away, I feel no Inclination at all, no Temptation, to be any where but at my Office. I am in it by 6 in the Morning – I am in it at 9 at night.... In the Evening, I can be alone at my Office, and no where else. I never could in my family." Nevertheless, after some time in the capital, he became disenchanted with the rural and "vulgar" Braintree as a home for his family. In August 1772, therefore, Adams moved his family back to Boston. He purchased a large brick house on Queen Street, not far from his office.[25] In 1774, Adams and Abigail returned the family to the farm due to the increasingly unstable situation in Boston, and Braintree remained their permanent Massachusetts home.[28]

Objections to British Parliament's authority Governor Thomas Hutchinson and his judges until 1772 received their salaries from the Massachusetts legislature. The Coercive Acts and the Tea Act were then passed by Parliament, and the British Crown assumed payment of those wages, drawn from customs revenues imposed upon that colony. According to biographer Ferling, the British government thus singled out Massachusetts for reprisals of previous rebellion and hoped in the process to force the other colonies into line. Boston radicals protested and asked John Adams to proclaim their objections. In "Two Replies of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to Governor Hutchinson" Adams argued that the colonists had never been under the sovereignty of Parliament. Their original charter, as well as their allegiance, was exclusively with the king. If a workable line could not be drawn between parliamentary sovereignty and the total independence of the colonies, he continued, the colonies would have no other choice but independence from England.[25]

In 1775, in response to a set of essays by Daniel Leonard (writing under the pen name "Massachusettensis") defending Hutchinson's arguments for the absolute authority of Parliament over the colonies, Adams (writing as "Novanglus") composed a series of essays addressed to the people living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In them, he gave a point-by-point refutation of Leonard's essays, and then provided one of the most extensive and learned arguments made by the colonists against British imperial policy. It was a systematic attempt by Adams to describe the origins, nature, and jurisdiction of (unwritten) British concepts of constitutionality. Adams used his wide knowledge of English and colonial legal history to argue that the provincial legislatures were fully sovereign over their own internal affairs, and that the colonies were connected to Great Britain only through the king.[29] (Full text of essays Wikisource has information on "Novanglus Essays" )

The Boston Tea Party, a historic demonstration against the British enactments, took place on December 16, 1773. The British schooner Dartmouth, loaded with tea to be traded subject to the new tea tax, had previously dropped anchor. By 9:00 PM, the work of the protesters was done – they had demolished 342 chests of tea worth about ten thousand pounds – today's equivalent of about $1 million. Adams was briefly retained by the Dartmouth owners regarding the question of their liability for the destroyed shipment. Adams applauded the destruction of the tea. There had been no choice, he thought, and he called the defiant boarding of the vessels and the quick obliteration of the dutied beverage the "grandest Event" in the history of the colonial protest movement. He wrote the following day that the destruction of the dutied tea by the protesters had been an "absolutely and indispensably" necessary action.[30]

Continental Congress Member of Continental Congress 56 figures stand or sit in a room. Five lay papers on a table. Trumbull's Declaration of Independence – committee presents draft to Congress. Adams at center with his hand on hip. Massachusetts sent Adams to the first and second Continental Congresses in 1774 and from 1775 to 1777 respectively. The Massachusetts delegation resolved to assume a largely passive role in the first Congress. But Adams felt strongly that the conservatives of 1774, men like Joseph Galloway and James Duane, were no different than Hutchinson and Peter Oliver, and he denigrated such men, telling Abigail that "Spiders, Toads, Snakes, are their only proper Emblems." Yet at that point his views were similar to those of conservative John Dickinson. He sought repeal of objectionable policies, but at the early stage he continued to see positive benefits for America remaining part of the British empire.[30]

In 1774, as a delegate to the First Continental Congress,[31] John Adams renewed his push for the right to a jury trial, stating "Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Without them, we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swines and hounds.”[32] Adams did not generally like the other delegates to the Congress. He complained of what he considered to be their pretentiousness, writing to Abigail, "I believe if it was moved and seconded that We should come to a Resolution that Three and two make five We should be entertained with Logick and Rhetorick, Law, History, Politicks and Mathematicks, concerning the Subject for two whole Days, and then We should pass the Resolution unanimously in the Affirmative."[33]

The absence of Adams from home was hard on Abigail, who was left alone to care for the family. But she encouraged her husband in his task, writing: "You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you an inactive Spectator, but if the Sword be drawn I bid adieu to all domestick felicity, and look forward to that Country where there is neither wars nor rumors of War in a firm belief that thro the mercy of its King we shall both rejoice there together."[34]

By early 1775, Adams became convinced that Congress was moving in the proper direction – away from its relationship with Great Britain. "Reconciliation if practicable," he said publicly, yet he agreed with Benjamin Franklin's confidential observation that independence was inevitable. In the fall of 1775 no one in Congress labored more ardently than Adams to hasten America's separation from Great Britain.[30]

In June 1775, with a view of promoting union among the colonies, he nominated George Washington of Virginia as commander-in-chief of the army then assembled around Boston. His influence in Congress was great, and he then argued in favor of permanent severance from Britain. In October 1775, he was also appointed the chief judge of the Massachusetts Superior Court, but he never served, and resigned in February 1777.[35]

Over the next decade, Americans from every state gathered and deliberated on new governing documents, employing many of Adams' innovative positions. Prior tradition suggested that a society's form of government need not be codified in a single document. As radical as it was to write constitutions, what was equally profound was the revolutionary nature of American political thought as the summer of 1776 dawned.[36]

Thoughts on Government A number of delegates sought Adams' advice about forming new governments.[37] Adams had privately criticized Thomas Paine's 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, saying that the author had "a better hard at pulling down than building."[38] Yet, some delegates found his views so convincing they urged him to commit them to paper. He did so in separate letters to these colleagues, each missive a bit longer and more thoughtful. So impressed was Richard Henry Lee that, with Adams's consent, he had the most comprehensive letter printed. Published anonymously just after mid-April 1776, it was titled simply Thoughts on Government and styled as "a Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend." Many historians agree that none of Adams' other compositions rivaled the enduring influence of this pamphlet.[37]

Adams advised that the form of government should be chosen to attain the desired ends–the happiness and virtue of the greatest number of people. He wrote that, "There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so because the very definition of a republic is an empire of laws, and not of men." The treatise also defended bicameralism, for "a single assembly is liable to all the vices, follies and frailties of an individual".[39] He also suggested that there should be a separation of powers between the executive, the judicial and the legislative branches, and further recommended that if a continental government were to be formed then it "should sacredly be confined" to certain enumerated powers. Thoughts on Government was referenced as an authority in every state-constitution writing hall.[40]

Declaration of Independence Adams in the 1776 session of Congress drafted the preamble to the Lee resolution of colleague Richard Henry Lee (Virginia), which called on the colonies to adopt new independent governments.[41] On June 7, 1776 he seconded the resolution, which stated, "These colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states."[42] Adams also championed the measure until it was adopted by Congress on July 2. Once the resolution passed, independence became inevitable, though it still had to be declared formally. The commitment was, as Adams put it, "independence itself."[42]

A Committee of Five was charged with drafting the Declaration, and included Adams, along with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman.[43] The Committee, after discussing the general outline that the document should follow, decided that Jefferson would write the first draft.[44] Jefferson particularly thought Adams should write the document; but Adams persuaded the Committee to choose Jefferson while agreeing to consult with Jefferson personally. Adams recorded his exchange with Jefferson on the question: Jefferson asked, "Why will you not? You ought to do it." To which Adams responded, "I will not – reasons enough." Jefferson replied, "What can be your reasons?" And Adams responded, "Reason first, you are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second, I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third, you can write ten times better than I can." "Well," said Jefferson, "if you are decided, I will do as well as I can." Adams concluded, "Very well. When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting."[37] The Committee left no minutes, and the drafting process itself is uncertain – accounts written many years later by Jefferson and Adams, although frequently cited, are otherwise contradictory.[45] Although the first draft was written primarily by Jefferson, Adams assumed a primary role in its completion. After editing the document further, Congress approved it on July 4. Many years later Jefferson hailed Adams as "the pillar of [the Declaration's] support on the floor of Congress, [its] ablest advocate and defender against the multifarious assaults it encountered."[46]

Government during revolution Black and white sketch of four men standing in a row beside a window Adams (left)–Staten Island Conference by Chappel After defeating the Continental Army at the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776, British Admiral Richard Howe mistakenly assumed a strategic advantage to be at hand, and requested the Second Continental Congress send representatives in an attempt to negotiate peace. A delegation, including Adams and Benjamin Franklin, met with Howe at the Staten Island Peace Conference on September 11.[47] Howe's authority was premised on the Colonists' submission, so no common ground was to be found.[48] When Lord Howe unhappily stated he could view the American delegates only as British subjects, Adams replied, "Your lordship may consider me in what light you please, ...except that of a British subject."[49] Adams learned many years later that his name was on a list of people specifically excluded from Howe's pardon-granting authority.[50] Being quite unimpressed with General Howe, and also after payments to colonial volunteers were increased, Adams in September 1776 said about the war, "We shall do well enough." Indeed, if Washington got his men, the British would be "ruined".[51]

In 1777, Adams began serving as the head of the Board of War and Ordnance; in fact, he sat on no less than ninety committees, chairing twenty-five. No other congressman approached the assumption of such a work load. As Benjamin Rush reported, he was acknowledged "to be the first man in the House."[30] He was also referred to as a "one man war department",[52] working eighteen-hour days and mastering the details of raising, equipping and fielding an army under civilian control. He also authored the "Plan of Treaties," laying out the Congress's requirements for the crucial treaty with France.[53]

Diplomat in Europe Commissioner to France and Minister Plenipotentiary In the spring of 1776 Adams advocated in Congress that independence was necessary in order to establish trade, and conversely trade was essential for the attainment of independence; he specifically urged negotiation of a commercial treaty with France. He was then appointed, along with Franklin, Dickinson, Benjamin Harrison V of Virginia and Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, "to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers". Indeed, while Jefferson was laboring over the Declaration of Independence, Adams worked on the Model Treaty.[54]

Adams joined Franklin and Arthur Lee in 1778 as a commissioner to France, replacing Silas Deane. He sailed for France with his 10-year-old son John Quincy aboard the frigate Boston early that year.[54] The stormy trip was treacherous, with lightning injuring 19 sailors and killing one. Adams' ship was later pursued by several British frigates in the mid-Atlantic, but evaded them. Near the coast of Spain, Adams himself took up arms to help capture a heavily armed British merchantman ship, the Martha. Later, a cannon malfunction killed one and injured five more of the crew before the ship arrived in France.[55]

Adams did not speak French, the international language of diplomacy at the time.[56] He therefore assumed a less visible role, but emerged as the commission's chief administrator, imposing order and methods lacking in his delegation's finances and record-keeping affairs. His first stay in Europe, between April 1, 1778, and June 17, 1779, was otherwise unremarkable, and he returned to his home in Braintree in early August 1779.[54] Back home, Adams became one of the founders and charter members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1780.[57][58]

In 1779, after returning from France, Adams was also elected to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, to create a new constitution for Massachusetts. Once there, he served on a committee of three, also including Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin, to draft the constitution. The task of writing it fell primarily to John Adams. The resulting Constitution of Massachusetts was approved in 1780. It was the first constitution written by a special committee, then ratified by the people; and was also the first to feature a bicameral legislature. Included were a distinct executive–though restrained by an executive council–with a partial (two-thirds) veto, and a separate judicial branch.[40]

In the fall of 1779 Adams was unanimously appointed a Minister Plenipotentiary, charged with negotiating a "treaty of peace, amity and commerce" with peace commissioners from Britain.[40] Following the conclusion of the Massachusetts constitutional convention, he departed for Europe in November[59] aboard the French frigate Sensible – accompanied by John Quincy and 9-year-old son Charles. In France, constant disagreement between Lee and Franklin eventually resulted in Adams assuming the role of tie-breaker in almost all votes on commission business; Adams also increased his usefulness by mastering the French language. In time Lee was recalled and Adams later developed his own enmity towards the older Franklin, whom the younger, more aggressive Adams felt was overly deferential to the French.[54]

The French foreign minister, the comte de Vergennes, disapproved of Adams, so Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, and Henry Laurens were appointed to collaborate with Adams; nevertheless, Jefferson did not go to Europe and Laurens was posted to the Dutch Republic. Jay, Adams, and Franklin played the major part in the final negotiations. Overruling Franklin and distrustful of Vergennes, Jay and Adams decided not to consult with France; instead, they dealt directly with the British commissioners.[60]

Throughout the negotiations, Adams successfully demanded that the right of the United States to the fisheries along the Atlantic coast be recognized. The American negotiators were able to secure a favorable treaty securing most lands east of the Mississippi, and the document was signed on September 3, 1783.[40]

Ambassador to Holland

Medallion given to John Adams in 1782 by Johann Georg Holtzhey to mark United States as an independent nation by The Netherlands In July 1780 Adams replaced Laurens as the ambassador to the Dutch Republic, then one of the few other Republics in the world. With the aid of the Dutch Patriot leader Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, Adams secured the recognition of the United States as an independent government at The Hague on April 19, 1782. In February 1782 the Frisian states was the first Dutch province to recognize the United States, while France had been the first European country to grant diplomatic recognition in 1778. He also negotiated a loan of five million guilders financed by Nicolaas van Staphorst and Wilhelm Willink. By 1794 a total of eleven loans were granted in Amsterdam to the United States with a value of 29 million guilders. In October 1782, he negotiated with the Dutch a treaty of amity and commerce, the first such treaty between the United States and a foreign power following the 1778 treaty with France.[61] The house that Adams bought during this stay in The Netherlands became the first American-owned embassy on foreign soil.[62]

In 1784 and 1785, he was one of the architects of extensive trade relations between the United States and Prussia. The Prussian ambassador in The Hague, Friedrich Wilhelm von Thulemeyer, was involved, as were Jefferson and Franklin, who were in Paris.[63]

Ambassador to Great Britain Adams was appointed in 1785 the first American minister to the Court of St James's (ambassador to Great Britain). When a counterpart seemed to assume that Adams had some family members in England, Adams replied, "Neither my father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, great grandfather or great grandmother, nor any other relation that I know of, or care a farthing for, has been in England these one hundred and fifty years; so that you see I have not one drop of blood in my veins but what is American."[64]

Adams had his first audience with King George III on June 1, and recorded the event as he saw it in great detail in a letter to Foreign Minister John Jay on June 2. Adams approached the King, telling him that he felt greatly honored by his appointment, and promised to do all that he could to restore friendship and cordiality "between People who, tho Seperated by an Ocean and under different Governments have the Same Language, a Similar Religion and kindred Blood." After hearing this, King George, promised to "receive with Pleasure, the Assurances of the friendly Dispositions of the United States." He added that "while he had been the last to consent" to American independence, he wished Adams to know that he had always done what he thought right and proper. Towards the end of the interview, the King said, which to Adams appeared very sudden, "There is an Opinion, among Some People, that you are not the most attached of all Your Countrymen, to the manners of France." Adams replied, "That Opinion sir, is not mistaken, I must avow to your Majesty, I have no Attachments but to my own Country." To this King George responded, "An honest Man will never have any other."[65]

During her visit to Washington to mark the bicentennial of American independence in 1976, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom gave historical perspective to Adams' service: "John Adams, America's first ambassador, said to my ancestor, King George III, that it was his desire to help with the restoration of 'the old good nature and the old good humour between our peoples.' That restoration has long been made, and the links of language, tradition, and personal contact have maintained it."[66]

Adams was joined by his wife while in London; they suffered the stares and hostility of the Court, and chose to escape it when they could by seeking out Richard Price, minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church and instigator of the Revolution Controversy.[67]

Conceptions of constitutional government

Adams – 1785 Mather Brown Portrait Adams' preoccupation with political and governmental affairs–which caused considerable separation from his wife and children–ironically had a distinct familial context, which he articulated in 1780: "I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have the liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecutre, Statuary, Tapestry, and Porcelaine."[68]

While in London, Adams published a work entitled A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States (1787).[69] In it he repudiated the views of Turgot and other European writers as to the viciousness of state government frameworks. In the book, Adams suggested that "the rich, the well-born and the able" should be set apart from other men in a senate—that would prevent them from dominating the lower house. Adams' Defence is described as an articulation of the classical republican theory of mixed government. Adams contended that social classes exist in every political society, and that a good government must accept that reality. For centuries, dating back to Aristotle, a mixed regime balancing monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy—that is, the king, the nobles, and the people—was required to preserve order and liberty.[70]

Wood (2006) has maintained that Adams' political philosophy had become irrelevant by the time the Federal Constitution was ratified. By then, American political thought, transformed by more than a decade of vigorous debate as well as formative experiential pressures, had abandoned the classical perception of politics as a mirror of social estates. Americans' new understanding of popular sovereignty was that the citizenry were the sole possessors of power in the nation. Representatives in the government enjoyed mere portions of the people's power and only for a limited time. Adams was thought to have overlooked this evolution and revealed his continued attachment to the older version of politics.[71] Yet Wood ignored Adams' peculiar definition of the term "republic," and his support for a constitution ratified by the people.[72] He also underestimated Adams' belief in checks and balances, such as Adams' statement that, "Power must be opposed to power, and interest to interest." This sentiment was later echoed by James Madison's famous statement that, "[a]mbition must be made to counteract ambition", in The Federalist No. 51, explaining the separation of powers established under the new Constitution.[73][74] Adams was unsurpassed in his dedication to establishing checks and balances as a governing strategem.

On the government's role in education Adams offered unambiguously that, "The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.[75]

Vice Presidency, 1789–97 Each state's presidential electors gathered in their state's capital on February 4, 1789 to cast their votes for the president. As originally prescribed by Article II of the Constitution, each state chose a number of electors equal to its representation in Congress. Each elector then cast two votes for president, though the electors were not allowed to cast both votes for the same person, and were prohibited from casting both their ballots for persons from their own state. The individual who won the most electoral votes would become president while the individual with the second-most electoral votes would become vice president. Each state's votes were sealed and delivered to Congress to be counted.[76] Adams received 34 electoral college votes in the presidential election of 1789, finishing in second place behind George Washington, who garnered 69 votes. As a result, Washington became the nation's first president, and Adams became the it's first vice president.

Partially bald man with white hair in black suit sits John Adams by Gilbert Stuart, c. 1815, oil on canvas – National Gallery of Art, Washington DC The first presidential term and the first vice presidential term both officially started on March 4, 1789, the date set by the Congress of the Confederation for the beginning of operations of the federal government under the new U.S. Constitution.[77][78] However, due to a delay in the counting and certification of the electoral votes, which was not done until April 6 (because although the Senate of the 1st Congress initially convened on March 4, it did not achieve a quorum until April 6, and so could not conduct business),[79][80] they commenced several weeks late. Adams first presided over the Senate on April 21.[81] Washington was inaugurated into office on April 30.[79]

Primarily established to provide a successor in the event of the president's death, disability, or resignation,[82] The vice president's sole constitutionally prescribed responsibility is to preside over the U.S. Senate as its president. The vice president also has the authority (ex officio, for he is not an elected member of the Senate) to cast a tie-breaking vote. Adams played an active role in the Senate's deliberations, particularly during his first term. On at least one occasion, he persuaded senators to vote against legislation he opposed, and he frequently lectured the body on procedural and policy matters. At the start of Washington's presidency, Adams became deeply involved in a month-long Senate controversy over the official titles for the president and executive officers of the new government. Although the House of Representatives agreed in short order that the president should be addressed simply as "George Washington, President of the United States," the Senate debated the issue at some length.[82] Adams favored the adoption of the style of Highness (as well as the title of Protector of Their [the United States'] Liberties) for the president.[83] Others favored the variant of Electoral Highness or the lesser Excellency."[84] Anti-federalists in the Senate objected to the monarchical sound of them all; Jefferson described them as "superlatively ridiculous."[67] In the end, Washington yielded to their objections and the House decided that the title of "Mr. President" would be used.[85]

He supported Washington's policies by casting 29 tie-breaking votes.[82] In doing so, he protected the president's sole authority over the removal of appointees and influenced the location of the nation's capital. But his views did not always align with Washington, who joined Franklin as the object of Adams' ire, as shown in this quote: "The History of our Revolution will be one continued lie. . . . The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklin's electrical Rod smote the Earth and out sprung General Washington. That Franklin electrified him with his Rod—and henceforth these two conducted all the Policy, Negotiations, Legislatures and War." On at least one occasion, he persuaded senators to vote against legislation that he opposed, and he frequently lectured the Senate on procedural and policy matters. Adams' political views and his attempt to assume a more active role in the Senate made him a natural target for critics of the Washington administration. Toward the end of his first term, as a result of a threatened resolution that would have silenced him except for procedural and policy matters, he began to exercise more restraint. When the nation's first two opposing political parties formed, he joined the Federalist Party, though he was consistently in opposition to its dominant leader Alexander Hamilton.[67]

Beyond his role in the Senate, Adams played a minor role in the politics of the early 1790s. During his two vice-presidential terms, Adams attended few cabinet meetings, and the president sought his counsel only infrequently. Nonetheless, the two men, according to Adams biographer, John E. Ferling, "jointly executed many more of the executive branch's ceremonial undertakings than would be likely for a contemporary president and vice-president."[82] Overall, while Adams brought energy and dedication to the office,[86] he found the task "not quite adapted to my character...too inactive, and mechanical."[87] He often lamented what he viewed as the "complete insignificance" of his situation. To his wife Abigail he once wrote, "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man . . . or his imagination contrived or his imagination conceived; and as I can do neither good nor evil, I must be borne away by others and met the common fate."[88]

Presidential election of 1796 Main article: United States presidential election, 1796 1796 electoral vote totals Name Party Votes John Adams Federalist 71 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 68 Thomas Pinckney Federalist 59 Aaron Burr Democratic-Republican 30 Samuel Adams Democratic-Republican 15 Oliver Ellsworth Democratic-Republican 11 George Clinton Democratic-Republican 7 John Jay Federalist 5 James Iredell Federalist 3 John Henry Democratic-Republican 2 Samuel Johnston Federalist 2 George Washington None 2 C. C. Pinckney Federalist 1 The election of 1796 was the first contested American presidential election.[89] Twice, George Washington had been elected to office unanimously; however, during his presidency, deep philosophical differences between the two leading figures in the administration—Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson—regarding domestic economic policy and U.S. foreign policy caused a rift between them,[90][91] and led to the founding of the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party. Thus, when Washington announced that he would not be a candidate for a third term, an intense partisan struggle for control of Congress and the presidency began.

Like the previous two presidential elections, no candidates were put forward for voters to choose between in 1796. The Constitution provided for the selection of electors who would then elect a president.[92] In seven states voters chose the presidential electors. In the remaining nine states, they were chosen by the state's legislature.[93] The clear favorite of Democratic–Republicans was Jefferson, although he was very reluctant to run.[94] There was little doubt that Adams would be the choice of a great majority of the Federalists.[92] Even so, Hamilton also had hoped to lead the party.[95]

The Democratic-Republicans in Congress held a nominating caucus and named Jefferson and Aaron Burr as their presidential choices.[95] Jefferson at first declined the nomination, but he finally agreed to run a few weeks later. Federalist members of Congress held an informal nominating caucus and named Adams and Thomas Pinckney as their candidates for president.[94][96] The campaign, was, for the most part, unorganized and sporadic, confined to newspaper attacks, pamphlets and political rallies;[92]of the four contenders, only Burr actively campaigned.[93] Adams specifically stated that he wanted to stay out of what he called the "silly and wicked game" of campaigning for office.[97]

As the campaign progressed, fears grew among Hamilton and his supporters that Adams was too vain, opinionated, unpredictable and stubborn to follow their directions once elected.[98] Desiring "a more pliant president than Adams," Hamilton maneuvered to tip the election to Pinckney. He coerced South Carolina Federalist electors, pledged to vote for "favorite son" Pinckney, to scatter their second votes among candidates other than Adams. Hamilton's scheme was undone, however, when several New England state electors heard of it, conferred, and agreed not to vote for Pinckney.[99] Adams was nonetheless angered, writing shortly after the election that Hamilton was a "proud Spirited, conceited, aspiring Mortal always pretending to Morality, with as debauched Morals as old Franklin who is more his Model than any one I know."[100]

In the end, Adams won the presidency by a narrow margin, receiving 71 electoral votes to 68 for Jefferson, who became the vice president; Pinckney finished in third with 59 votes, and Burr came in fourth with 30. The balance of the Electoral College votes were dispersed among nine other candidates.[101] This is the only election to date in which a president and vice president were elected from opposing tickets.

Presidency, 1797–1801 Main article: Presidency of John Adams

President's House, Philadelphia. Adams occupied this Philadelphia mansion from March 1797 to May 1800. Adams was sworn into office as the nation's second president on March 4, 1797, by Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth.[102] As president, he followed Washington's lead in using the presidency to exemplify republican values and civic virtue; and his service was free of scandal. He continued to strengthen the central government by expanding the Navy and Army. In July 1798 Adams signed into law the Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen, which authorized the establishment of a government-operated marine hospital service.[103]

Historians debate his decision to retain en masse the members of Washington's cabinet. Many felt he was oblivious to the political danger of such a decision, in light of the cabinet's loyalty to Hamilton. The "Hamiltonians who surround him," Jefferson soon remarked, "you are only a little less hostile to him than to me."[97] Although aware of the Hamilton factor, Adams was convinced their retention ensured a smoother succession.[104] Adams' economic programs maintained those of Hamilton, who indeed had regularly consulted with key cabinet members, especially the powerful Secretary of the Treasury, Oliver Wolcott Jr.[105] Adams was in other respects quite independent of his cabinet, often making decisions despite strong opposition from it. Such self-reliance enabled him to avoid war with France, despite a strong desire among his cabinet secretaries for the conflict. The Quasi-War with France resulted in the detachment from European affairs that Washington had sought. It also had psychological benefits, allowing America to view itself as holding its own against a European power.[97]

Historian George Herring argues that Adams was the most independent-minded of the founders.[106] Though he aligned with the Federalists, he was somewhat a party unto himself, disagreeing with the Federalists as much as he did the Democratic-Republicans.[107] He was often described as "prickly", but his tenacity was fed by good decisions made in the face of universal opposition.[106] Adams was often combative, which diminished presidential decorum, as Adams himself admitted in his old age: "[As president] I refused to suffer in silence. I sighed, sobbed, and groaned, and sometimes screeched and screamed. And I must confess to my shame and sorrow that I sometimes swore."[108] Adams' resolve to advance peace with France, rather than to continue hostilities, especially reduced his popularity.[109] This played an important role in his reelection defeat, however he was so pleased with the outcome that he had it engraved on his tombstone. Adams spent much of his term at home in Massachusetts, ignoring the details of political patronage nursed by other office holders.[110]

Quasi-War and peace with France (1798–1800) See also: XYZ Affair, Quasi-War, and Fries Rebellion The president's term was marked by disputes concerning the country's role, if any, in the expanding conflict in Europe, where Britain and France were at war. Hamilton and the Federalists supported Britain, while Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans favored France.[111] The French had supported Jefferson for president and became even more belligerent at his loss.[112] When Adams entered office, he decided to continue Washington's policy of staying out of the European war. The intense battle over the Jay Treaty in 1795 had previously polarized politics throughout the nation.[113] The French saw America as Britain's junior partner and began seizing American merchant ships that were trading with the British. Nevertheless, most Americans were initially pro-French due to France's assistance during the Revolutionary War, and would not have sufficiently rallied behind anyone to stop France.[

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John Adams, 2nd President of the USA, Signer of the Declaration of Independence's Timeline

1735
October 19, 1735
Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
1751
1751
- 1755
Age 15
Massachusetts, United States
1755
July 16, 1755
Age 19
Cambridge, Middlesex Co, MA; Education: grad. Harvard
July 16, 1755
Age 19
Cambridge, Middlesex, MA/Harvard
1765
July 14, 1765
Age 29
Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts
1767
July 11, 1767
Age 31
Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts

Braintree is now known as Quincy.

1768
December 28, 1768
Age 33
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
1770
May 29, 1770
Age 34
Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
1772
September 15, 1772
Age 36
Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts