John Adams

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John Adams, the second president of the United States of America, born in October 1735, he died July 4th 1826. Well educated, he was an Enlightenment political theorist who promoted republicanism, as well as a strong central government, and wrote prolifically about his often seminal ideas, both in published works and in letters to his wife and key adviser Abigail Adams, as well as to other Founding Fathers.

 

Adams was a lifelong opponent of slavery, having never bought a slave. He assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and was its primary advocate in the Congress.

 

Later, as a diplomat in Europe, he helped negotiate the eventual peace treaty with Great Britain, and was responsible for obtaining vital governmental loans from Amsterdam bankers.

 

A political theorist and historian, Adams largely wrote the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780, which together with his earlier Thoughts on Government, influenced American political thought.

 

In 1800, Adams was defeated for re-election by Thomas Jefferson and retired to Massachusetts. He later resumed his friendship with Jefferson. He and his wife founded an accomplished family line of politicians, diplomats, and historians now referred to as the Adams political family.

 

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.

 

Though raised in materially modest surroundings, Adams felt acutely that he had a responsibility to live up to his family heritage: he was a direct descendent of the founding generation of Puritans, who came to the American wilderness in the 1630s, established colonial presence in America, and had a profound effect on the culture, laws, and traditions of their region.

 

Journalist Richard Brookhiser, drawing on the relevant historiography, has written that these Puritan ancestors of Adams’s “believed they lived in the Bible. In 1785, John Adams was appointed the first American minister to the Court of St. James’s (ambassador to Great Britain).

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In his diary he mentions an exchange between himself and another ambassador who asked if he had often been in England and if he had English relations to which Adams explained he had only been to England once for a two-month visit back in 1783 and that he had no relations in the country.

 

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 centre, 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.

 

John Adams lived for over 25 years after failing to be re-elected to the presidency. He returned home to Massachusetts. He spent his time learning and corresponding with old friends including mending fences with Thomas Jefferson and beginning a vibrant letter friendship. He lived to see his son, John Quincy Adams, to become president. He died on July 4, 1826, the same day as Jefferson’s death.