John Adams – Presidency, Facts & Children – HISTORY
- early years
- john adams and the american revolution
- diplomatic missions to europe
- John Adams: First Vice President of the United States
- john adams, second president of the united states
- the writings of john adam
John Adams (1735-1826) was a leader of the American Revolution and was the second leader of the United States. President from 1797 to 1801. Born in Massachusetts and educated at Harvard, Adams began his career as a lawyer. Intelligent, patriotic, headstrong, and forceful, Adams became a critic of Britain’s authority in colonial America, viewing Britain’s imposition of high taxes and duties as a tool of oppression.
during the 1770s, he was a delegate to the continental congress. In the 1780s, Adams served as a diplomat in Europe, helping to negotiate the Treaty of Paris (1783), which officially ended the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). From 1789 to 1797, Adams was the first Vice President of the United States. he later served one term as the nation’s second president. He was defeated for another term by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). His letters to his wife, Abigail Adams, left a vivid portrait of his time among the founding fathers.
Born in Braintree (present-day Quincy), Massachusetts, on October 30, 1735, to the descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims, John Adams was the eldest of three children born to John and Susanna Boylston Adams. Elder Adams was a farmer and shoemaker who also served as a Congregationalist deacon and local government official.
did you know? In November 1800, John Adams became the first President to reside in the White House. Construction began on the Presidential House, which was designed by Irish architect James Hoban, in 1792. President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) officially named it the White House in 1901.
A great student, Adams graduated from Harvard College in 1755. He then taught school for several years and studied law with a lawyer in Worcester, Massachusetts. Adams began his legal career in 1758 and eventually became one of Boston’s foremost lawyers.
In 1764, he married Abigail Smith (1744-1818), a minister’s daughter from Weymouth, Massachusetts, with whom he had six children, four of whom survived to adulthood: Abigail Amelia Adams, known as ” naby” ; Charles Adams; thomas boylston adams and future president john quincy adams.
Abigail Adams would prove to be her husband’s trusted confidante. Well-educated and possessed of her own intellectual gifts, she corresponded regularly with Adams, especially when he was in Europe for long periods of time. surviving letters from her show that she was a pragmatic thinker and influential in her husband’s career.
john adams and the american revolution
during the 1760s, adams began to challenge the authority of great britain in colonial america. He came to see the British imposition of high taxes and duties as a tool of oppression, and he no longer believed that the British government had the colonists’ best interests in mind. He was a critic of the 1765 Stamp Act, in which the British imposed a tax on legal documents, newspapers, and playing cards in the North American colonies. Adams also spoke out against the Townshend Acts of 1767, which placed tariffs on goods such as paper, glass, and tea imported into America.
Despite his objection to what he thought were unfair taxes by the British, Adams, a man of principle, represented British soldiers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre of March 1770. Adams wanted to make sure that the soldiers, who were accused of shooting into an unruly mob of civilians in Boston and killing five people, received a fair trial.
in 1774, adams attended the first continental congress in philadelphia as a delegate from massachusetts. (The Continental Congress served as the government of the 13 American Colonies, and later of the United States, from 1774 to 1789.) In 1775, as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, Adams appointed George Washington (1732-99) to serve as Commander of the colonial forces in the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), which had just begun. As a delegate to Congress, Adams would later nominate Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence (which Adams signed along with his second cousin, Samuel Adams).
diplomatic missions to europe
in 1778, adams was sent to paris, france, to obtain aid for the colonists’ cause. The following year, he returned to America and served as the chief draftsman of the Massachusetts Constitution (the oldest written constitution in the world). In the early 1780s, Adams was back in Europe, serving in a diplomatic capacity.
In 1783, he, along with John Jay (1745-1829) and Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended hostilities between America and Great Britain. Franklin had served as the American minister to France since 1776, and while Adams often felt that he worked harder than Franklin, it was the older man’s charm that opened the diplomatic doors for his more forthright and combative colleague. p>
adams remained in europe after the war and served as the first united states ambassador to great britain from 1785 to 1788. after returning to the united states, he participated in the constitutional convention that nominated washington to serve as the nation’s first president. Adams lobbied for the vice presidency and won. (In early elections, the president and vice president were elected separately.)
John Adams: First Vice President of the United States
Although Washington and Adams shared many political views, the role of vice president seemed largely ceremonial, and Adams spent the next eight years, from 1789 to 1797, in frustration. Adams once commented: “My country, in its wisdom, has devised for me the most insignificant trade that man’s invention ever devised or his imagination conceived.” When Washington retired in 1796, Adams ran for president, winning over Thomas Jefferson, who became vice president.
john adams, second president of the united states
Adams took office in March 1797, and his presidency quickly turned to foreign affairs. Great Britain and France were at war, which directly affected American trade. During his tenure, Washington had managed to maintain neutrality, but tensions had risen when Adams became president.
In 1797, he sent a delegation to France to negotiate a treaty, but the French refused to meet with the delegates and the French foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838), demanded a large bribe . Adams refused to deal with the French on these terms, and the bribery scandal, which became known as the XYZ Affair, greatly boosted Adams’ popularity. an undeclared naval war broke out between the us. and France in 1798 and lasted until 1800 when a peace treaty was signed.
adams squandered his popularity by enacting the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. Apparently written to protect American interests, the laws gave the government sweeping powers to deport “enemy” aliens and arrest anyone who disagreed with the government. Jefferson and his allies, calling themselves Democratic-Republicans, attacked these laws, declaring them unconstitutional. many Americans, having thrown off an oppressive government, feared that their new government would resort to similar tactics. Although he never abused the laws and, in fact, they had built-in deadlines, they hurt Adams and helped cost him the election in 1800.
the writings of john adam
After his presidency, Adams had a long and productive retirement. He and his wife lived in Quincy, Massachusetts, and the former president spent the next quarter century writing columns, books, and letters. In 1812, he was encouraged to begin exchanging letters with his old rival Thomas Jefferson, and their voluminous correspondence lasted for the rest of his lives.
abigail adams died in 1818 but john adams lived long enough to see her son john quincy adams (1767-1848) become the sixth president of the united states in 1824. at the time, elder adams and jefferson were among the last living signers of the declaration of independence. On July 4, 1826 (the 50th anniversary of the declaration), the 90-year-old founding father uttered his last words: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” he died later that day. What he didn’t know was that that same morning Jefferson had also passed away.