Home Free Paper Index
John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Massachusetts Bay. He was born in a well-to-do family of five. He is the eldest son and was named after his father, John Adams. Young Adams was able to receive a proper childhood education, as his father was a deacon of the Congregational church, as well as a lieutenant of the local militia. Despite his busy schedule, his main interest and occupation was farming.
At 1761, Adams’ father passed away due to the flu epidemic. His mother remarried at 1766, but young john did not get along with his stepfather. Young Adams was not very bright at his studies, but through his tutor, Joseph Marsh, guidance, he was able to go to Harvard College at the age of 16. At the age of 1755, he graduated and found his first job, as a teacher in Worcester, Massachusetts. During his teaching career, Adams found his new interests in Latin, history and law and Adams yearned to make his mark upon the world. All along, Adams was wondering if he was able to achieve something great in his life. During these years of his life, Adams begins keeping his famous journal. “After many years of teaching, he married Abigail Smith, a third cousin of his and also the daughter of the minister of Massachusetts, in October 25, 1764, when he was 28 years old.” Soon after the marriage, Abigail becomes his closest friend as well as his political advisor. They had five children and one of them died a few years after birth. Their eldest son, John Quincy Adams, later became the sixth president of the United States.
As Adams interest in studying law increases, he began to take night classes under the tutelage of James Putnam and continued his teaching carrier during daytime. Due to Adams’ intelligence and law knowledge, he was chosen by the people of Braintree to write protest against the Stamp Act. At first, he declined the idea but after persuaded by Samuel Adams, a fellow revolutionary, who was also a second cousin of his, John Adams wrote the protests and essays to the Boston newspaper and used it as a forum to fight the Stamp Act. Finally on February 22, 1766, The British House of Commons ended the Stamp Act. His essays were collected and published in 1768 as “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law”.
In 1769, John Hancock, the richest man in Boston was accused of wine smuggling and Adams was his lawyer. After several days of trial, Adams finally succeeded in clearing John Hancock’s name. Since then, Adams was recognized as a prominent lawyer.
Another case that made Adams famous was the Boston Massacre at 1770. It was the act of British soldiers who fired at mob of Boston citizen. As a result, five civilians were killed, including Cripus Attucks. Upon the event, many political groups and citizens were unhappy. It was the starting of an anti-British fever. Paul Revere made an engraving that depicted captain Thomas Preston gave the order to start firing at the defenseless crowd. “To calm the situation down, Governor Hutchinson, promised the people to imprison the captain and soldiers, and they would also be trial upon their action.” In the afternoon, the Sons of Liberty held a meeting at the Faneuil Hall, demanding that all British should be driven out of Boston. No lawyer was brave enough to take the case except John Adams and another young lawyer Josiah Quincy. Preston and his man should be trial on September, but his men made a petition to the court that they wanted to be trial together at one time. The petition was denied and on October 24, 1770, Preston was the first to be trialed. This was the first case that was held longer than one day in Massachusetts. Adams, leading the defense, had called for at least twenty-two witnesses in one day and none of them had heard Preston ordered his troops to start firing. On October 30, 1770, the juries had dropped the charge on Preston. Soon, it was the soldiers’ trials. Witnesses said that the troops acted on self-defense, as the crowd was throwing snowballs and objects found on the road. After long discussion, the juries read their verdict that only Matthew Kilroy and Hugh Montgomery were found guilty, while the rest of eight soldiers, were found not guilty. Matthew Kilroy and Hugh Montgomery would be branded on their thumbs and the group sailed back to New Jersey. Before the ship set sail, Hugh confessed that he had shouted the word fire. Preston wrote to General Gage about his incredible lawyers and soon Adams became the best lawyer in Boston.
At 1787, the former “Articles of Confederation” was changed to the “New Constitution” at the Philadelphia Convention. This event attracted media attention and showed the urgent need of calling on a national election, which was to be held in February 1789. The election for president and vice president was to be held at the same time. The one who got the highest number of vote would be the President, and the second highest number of vote would be the Vice President. George Washington has the highest number of vote and John Adams came in second. Thus he was made the Vice President. Due to Adams physical appearance, he earned the name “His Rotundity.” Adams was inaugurated as the Vice President on April 30, 1789.
During the first year of Washington’s presidency, disagreement between The Federalists and the Democratic Republicans broke out. They were at each other throat most of the time. The Federalist, led by Alexander Hamilton, believed in central government and developing a good tie with the English, but on the other hand, The Democratic Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, believed states autonomy and having a close relationship with the France. The position Adams the Vice President and his flexibility as a Federalist made him popular. Although, Adams was a strong opposition for the next election, many people disliked him, including his own party member. Rumors about Adams wanted to start a dynasty, by giving his position to his son and so on, was the main cause for people to dislike him. Despite the rumors, in March 4, 1796, Adams was able to take Washington’s place as the President. Surprisingly, the Vice President voted was Thomas Jefferson; never did any country have a government body that was led by two different political parties.
In the Europe, conflicts between British and French became more and more tense.
American merchants who were trading with the French faced many difficulty as the
British were seizing any ships that were trading with French. To overcome this problem, the American signed the Jay’s Treaty that allowed the British to trade with the American ships. The French was unhappy and blindly accused that the Americans were helping the British. Soon the French began to capture American trading ship. John Adams senses the urgency to stop this problem before it led to a war with French. He sent three representatives to negotiate with the France. Out of the three representatives, two were Federalist, Pinckney and John Marshall, and one was a Republican, Elbridge Gerry. French Foreign Minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, received them unofficially upon their arrival on October 4, 1798. A few weeks later, Talleyrand, in return, sent three foreign ministers, Jean Conrad Hottinguer and Hauteval, Swedish and Mr. Bellamy, an American, back to America. Talleyrand did not take this matter seriously and instead he seen this negotiation agreement as an opportunity to accumulate his wealth. So, he gave out the rule that there should be no further negotiation with the Americans except that the Americans were willing to pay a bribery to Talleyrand as much as $ 250,000 and a loan of $ 10 million to his country. This was known as the XYZ affair. Many Americans were shocked and angered by this insult. Without any further thought, the Americans declined France request. Soon, Talleyrand made another request to the Americans who still wanted a peace negotiation with France. Talleyrand demanded that France should be granted the same privilege like the British on their sea trading and that the Americans should pay for the damage of the France’s ship. Further insult was shown when Talleyrand said that he wanted to hold a negotiation only with Gerry as he viewed that the other two representatives were not friendly enough with the France. This insult angered Pinckney and Marshall, who were soon fed up and returned to America. Adams saw that the negotiation plan was not going anywhere, therefore on March 19; he publicized the failure of the negotiation. The first fighting began between the Americans and the France, began at sea. It was a victory for the France at first, but soon enough, the American navy was able to turn the situation and held the victory for America. Despite Americans victory at sea, Adams
Despite the triumphant at sea, Adams still did not support the Federalists idea of having a war with the France. Adams made another attempt of negotiation and sent another three man including Murray, the President of the Federalists Party. Unlike the first attempt, as soon as the three representatives reached France, they were welcomed with respect by Napoleon Bonaparte, the new Emperor of France. During that time, neither country wanted an actual war. After a long and hard discussion, they came up with the treaty of Montfortaine that ended the Quasi war. Peace was finally achieved between France and America, therefore, the special army that was formed by Alexander Hamilton for the preparation of war, was cancelled and unused. This made Hamilton looked like a fool in front of American citizen and caused a split in the Federalists Party. Soon after the peace treaty, Hamilton led an open rebellion against Adams and did everything necessary to throw Adams from his position. To Adams, saving the America from a war with France was his greatest achievement during his time as a President of the United States.
The relationship between the Federalist and the Republican changed for the worst. In 1798, president John Adams had signed the “Alien and Sedition Act.” The purpose of the Sedition Act was to reduce the critics that were directed to the federalist by the Republican. This law was to restrain people right for freedom of speech. The alien act was designed to empower the president to arrest and deport any alien who is considered to be dangerous. This bill expired in 1800. The Act also made it more difficult for immigrants to become citizens. This was the first law to limit the number of immigrants staying in the United States. Soon there were protests against the act and this made the incident made the federalist became unfavorable to win the next election. Furthermore, during this period, President Adams forced two federalist leaders to resign as they were found to be more loyal to Alexander Hamilton than to him.
The third Presidential election was held on the first of November 1800. By that time, the federalist was collapsing. As a result, Adams was not re-elected for neither president nor vice president post. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the most number of votes and tied at 75 votes each. Hence the House of Representatives made the final vote and Jefferson won the election. Jefferson became the third president of United States, succeeding Adams and Burr was made the vice president. Adams was disappointed and he did not wish to the inauguration of the new President. Before he stepped down, he appointed federalist judges in the new government. This was known as the “Midnight Judges.”
During his retirement, he returned to his old farm in Massachusetts and started writing. Although he lived in rather secluded environment, he was still active and well informed about the development of this young nation. When his eldest son, John Quincy Adams, was elected for president in 1824, his only goal in life was to hear the national song in the 50th independent day celebration. He fought bitterly just to achieve this goal. He fell into a coma and awakens just to say, “Thomas Jefferson survives.” He died in July 4, 1826. Ironically Thomas Jefferson also died earlier in the noon.
Due to his aloofness when he was still the president of United States, people tend to forget his achievements. It is true that he made several mistakes when he was serving the country. However I think he has not been given fair credits for all his great deeds. He had avoided the outbreak of war with France. Instead of going to war, he is able to solve the problem in a peaceful way, by negotiating, and hence ties good relationship with France. He also shows great compassion by giving amnesty to the fries’s rebellion. In conclusion, I think John Adams s one of the greatest American Presidents.
The American Presidency,
John Adams: Critical Review,
Biography of John Adams,