As a political philosopher, former American President John Adams made more of a mark on current policy making than as a politician. One of his most well-known quotes refers not only to himself, but the newly formed government. He stated, “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.”
A Young John Adams
On October 30, 1735, John Adams was born at the family farm in Quincy, Massachusetts.
John Adams earned a scholarship to attend Harvard University when he was 16 years old. After graduating the first time in four years later, he was able to study law with the well-known lawyer, John Putnam. He did this against his despite his father’s desire for him to become a minister. He re-entered Harvard in 1758, and he earned his master’s degree before being accepted to the bar.
The American President, John Adams
In the 1796 presidential election, John Adams was selected to be the Federalist nominee for the American President. His opposition was Thomas Jefferson for the Democratic-Republican Party. Adams earned the position as the second president by a narrow margin.
During his presidency, the French and British were fighting a war that was caused political problems for the United States. John Adams’s decided to concentrate on talks with France because they suspended trade relations. France refused to negotiate with the three representatives John Adams sent until the US agreed to pay what Adams considered a bribe. When the US citizens learned of this, they decided to support the war.
Congress authorized the creation of a provisional army and they also voted to appropriate money for the completion of three new frigates as well as additional ships. Congress also passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were meant to cause foreign agents to leave the US and to discourage the subversive Republican opinions being spread at the time.
Without a formal declaration of war, hostilities began at sea with American President John Adams’s support. In the beginning, American shipping was practically helpless against the French privateers. By 1800 though, the merchantmen were arming themselves and were working with US warships to successfully clear the waters.
Both the US and France tired from the hostilities and both countries decided to call a stop to the fighting. France accepted an ambassador to conduct negotiations to end the quasi-war.
By the end of 1800, this undeclared war ended causing John Adams to become considerably less popular in public opinion. This was a major factor to the narrow loss he experienced to Thomas Jefferson at the next election in 1800.
The Retirement of John Adams
John Adams was able to retire to his Quincy farm after the loss where he spent many hours writing long letters to Thomas Jefferson. On his deathbed July 4 1826, he uttered his last words: “Thomas Jefferson survives.” Jefferson had already died at Monticello during Adams last few hours. Adams died without the knowledge that Jefferson had already passed.
The following poster provides an attractive and concise summary of John Adams’s achievements throughout his lifetime: