About John Adams
The second president of the US, John Adams, like many of the founding fathers was as much, if not more, a thinker than a politician. Born in 1735 in Massachusetts he was taught early on by his father and excelled in his studies. Establishing himself at a young age in Boston he played a major role in the independence of the colonies. During the Revolutionary War he served as minister to Holland and France and helped negotiate the peace treaty of Paris. He even helped write the Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson.
The Stamp Act and the Boston Massacre
Two events helped propel him early in his career. The first was his articulate denunciation of the British Stamp Act of 1765, a clumsy attempt by Britain to gather more revenue from the colonies. The second was his defending of the British soldiers who committed the Boston Massacre. He got six of the eight acquitted defending them using sound reasoning, the law, and the facts, pointing out that regardless of the emotions, justice must be fair.
The Continental Congress
He was a part of the first Continental Congress, representing Massachusetts and was a major figure from then on in each successive congress that formed the various steps towards independence and full nationhood. His “Thoughts on Government,” essay was instrumental in helping each state write their own constitution. Among his ideas were those of governing for the good of the many as well as bicameral congresses.
Adams as Vice President and President
After the Revolutionary War he served as minister to England until the US held its first presidential elections in 1788. When the US voted to elect its first president, George Washington unanimously won the electoral vote, but Adams was a runner up and became his Vice President for two terms, a job he did not particularly like for it’s lack of influence and action.
He ran for the presidency when Washington retired. running against his longtime collaborator in founding the nation, Thomas Jefferson. The two held some radically divergent points of view and were a part of what were becoming two distinct parties. At this time the runner up became the Vice President, an honor bestowed on Jefferson after Adams won. He only served one term as the political winds changed to favor Jefferson’s fortunes.
Retiring after his loss he returned to Massachusetts. He later became good friends with Jefferson and they kept up an active correspondence. Adams had also founded a political dynasty and his son Quincy became the sixth president of the United States.