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John Quincy Adams

Early Years

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Jefferson was portrayed as an apostle of liberty and man of the people, while Adams was labelled a monarchist. He was accused of insanity and marital infidelity. Callender , a Republican propagandist secretly financed by Jefferson, launched strong attacks on Adams's character and accused him of attempting to make war with France.

Callender was arrested and jailed under the Sedition Act, which only further inflamed Republican passions. Opposition from the Federalist Party was at times equally intense. Some, including Pickering, accused Adams of colluding with Jefferson so that he would end up either president or vice president. Planning an indictment of Adams's character, he requested and received private documents from both the ousted cabinet secretaries and Wolcott.

Upon seeing a draft, several Federalists urged Hamilton not to send it. Wolcott wrote that "the poor old man" could do himself in without Hamilton's assistance. Hamilton did not heed their advice. Hamilton denounced many of Adams's policy decisions, including the "precipitate nomination" of Murray, the pardoning of Fries, and the firing of Pickering. He also included a fair share of personal insults, vilifying the President's "disgusting egotism" and "ungovernable temper. When the electoral votes were counted, Adams finished in third place with 65 votes, and Pinckney came in fourth with 64 votes.

Jefferson and Burr tied for first place with 73 votes each. Because of the tie, the election devolved upon the House of Representatives, with each state having one vote and a supermajority required for victory. On February 17, — on the 36th ballot — Jefferson was elected by a vote of 10 to 4 two states abstained. To compound the agony of his defeat, Adams's son Charles, a long-time alcoholic, died on November Anxious to rejoin Abigail, who had already left for Massachusetts, Adams departed the White House in the predawn hours of March 4, , and did not attend Jefferson's inauguration.

Since him, only three out-going presidents having served a full term have not attended their successors' inaugurations. Adams appointed two U. Supreme Court associate justices during his term in office: At the time, it was not yet certain whether Jefferson or Burr would win the election.

Regardless, Adams believed that the choice should be someone "in the full vigor of middle age" who could counter what might be a long line of successive Republican presidents. Adams chose his Secretary of State John Marshall. He maintained a carefully reasoned nationalistic interpretation of the Constitution and established the judicial branch as the equal of the executive and legislative branches.

After the Federalists lost control of both houses of Congress along with the White House in the election of , the lame-duck session of the 6th Congress in February approved a judiciary act, commonly known as the Midnight Judges Act , which created a set of federal appeals courts between the district courts and the Supreme Court. Adams filled the vacancies created in this statute by appointing a series of judges, whom his opponents called the "Midnight Judges," just days before his term expired.

Most of these judges lost their posts when the 7th Congress , with a solid Republican majority, approved the Judiciary Act of , abolishing the newly created courts. Adams resumed farming at Peacefield in the town of Quincy and began work on an autobiography. The work had numerous gaps and was eventually abandoned and left unedited. His frugal lifestyle left him with a considerable fortune by Adams generally stayed quiet on public matters.

He did not publicly denounce Jefferson's actions as president, [] believing that "instead of opposing Systematically any Administration, running down their Characters and opposing all their Measures right or wrong, We ought to Support every Administration as far as We can in Justice. Shortly thereafter, both he and his father crossed party lines to support Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase.

After the Federalists denounced John Quincy as no longer being of their party, Adams wrote to him that he himself had long since "abdicated and disclaimed the name and character and attributes of that sect.

Warren, an old friend, had attacked Adams in a pamphlet for his "partiality for monarchy" and "pride of talents and much ambition. In time, their friendship healed. After Jefferson's retirement from public life in , Adams became more vocal. He published a three-year marathon of letters in the Boston Patriot newspaper, refuting line-by-line Hamilton's pamphlet.

The initial piece was written shortly after his return from Peacefield and "had gathered dust for eight years. Although Hamilton had died in in a duel with Aaron Burr , Adams felt the need to vindicate his character against his charges. With his son having broken from the Federalist Party and joined the Republicans, he felt he could safely do so without threatening his political career.

Having worried over the rise of sectionalism, he celebrated the growth of a "national character" that accompanied it. Daughter Abigail "Nabby" was married to Representative William Stephens Smith , but she returned to her parents' home after the failure of the marriage; she died of breast cancer in In early , Adams sent Thomas Jefferson a brief note after returning to Quincy wishing him a happy and prosperous presidency. Jefferson failed to respond, and they did not speak again for nearly 12 years.

In , Abigail wrote to Jefferson to express her condolences upon the death of his daughter Polly , who had stayed with the Adamses in London in This initiated a brief correspondence between the two which quickly descended into political rancor. Jefferson terminated it by not replying to Abigail's fourth letter. Aside from that, by there had been no communication between Peacefield and Monticello since Adams left office. In early , Adams reconciled with Jefferson. The previous year had been tragic for Adams; his brother-in-law and friend Richard Cranch had died along with his widow Mary, and Nabby had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

These events mellowed Adams and caused him to soften his outlook. On New Year's Day, Adams sent a brief, friendly note to Jefferson to accompany the delivery of "two pieces of homespun," a two-volume collection of lectures on rhetoric by John Quincy Adams. Jefferson replied immediately with a cordial letter, and the two men revived their friendship, which they sustained by mail. The correspondence that they resumed in lasted the rest of their lives, and has been hailed as among their great legacies of American literature.

Their letters represent an insight into both the period and the minds of the two revolutionary leaders and presidents. The missives lasted fourteen years, and consisted of letters — from Adams and 49 from Jefferson.

Early on, Adams repeatedly tried to turn the correspondence to a discussion of their actions in the political arena. Adams accepted this, and the correspondence turned to other matters, particularly philosophy and their daily habits. As the two grew older, the letters became fewer and farther between.

There was also a great deal that they kept to themselves. Jefferson said nothing about his construction of a new house, domestic turmoil, slave ownership, or poor financial situation, while Adams did not mention the troublesome behavior of his son Thomas, who had failed as a lawyer and become an alcoholic, resorting afterwards to living primarily as a caretaker at Peacefield.

Abigail died of typhoid on October 28, The Marquis de Lafayette toured the country and met briefly with Adams, who greatly enjoyed the conversation. The results became official in February after a deadlock was decided in the House of Representaties. He did remark, "No man who ever held the office of President would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.

Less than a month before his death, Adams issued a statement about the destiny of the United States, which historian Joy Hakim characterized as a warning for his fellow citizens: On July 4, , the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Adams died at his home in Quincy at approximately 6: When Adams died, his last words included an acknowledgement of his longtime friend and rival: During the First Continental Congress, Adams was sometimes solicited for his views on government.

While recognizing its importance, Adams had privately criticized Thomas Paine 's pamphlet Common Sense , which attacked all forms of monarchy, even constitutional monarchy of the sort advocated by John Locke. It supported a unicameral legislature and a weak executive elected by the legislature. According to Adams, the author had "a better hand at pulling down than building.

This was incompatible with the system of checks and balances that conservatives like Adams would implement. He did so in separate letters to these colleagues. So impressed was Richard Henry Lee that, with Adams's consent, he had the most comprehensive letter printed. Published anonymously just after mid-April , it was titled simply Thoughts on Government and styled as "a Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend.

Adams advised that the form of government should be chosen to attain the desired ends — the happiness and virtue of the greatest number of people. He wrote that, "There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so because the very definition of a republic is an empire of laws, and not of men. Thoughts on Government was referenced as an authority in every state-constitution writing hall.

Adams also used the letter to attack opponents of independence. He claimed that John Dickinson 's fear of republicanism was responsible for his refusal to support independence, and wrote that opposition from Southern planters was rooted in fear that their aristocratic slaveholding status would be endangered by it. After returning from his first mission to France, Adams was elected to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention with the purpose of establishing a new constitution for Massachusetts.

He served on a committee of three, also including Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin , to draft the constitution. The task of writing it fell primarily to John Adams. The resulting Constitution of Massachusetts was approved in It was the first constitution written by a special committee, then ratified by the people; and was also the first to feature a bicameral legislature.

Included were a distinct executive — though restrained by an executive council — with a qualified two-thirds veto, and an independent judicial branch. The judges were given lifetime appointments, allowed to "hold their offices during good behavior. The Constitution affirmed the "duty" of the individual to worship the "Supreme Being," and that he had the right to do so without molestation "in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience. He believed that people "in a State of Ignorance" were more easily enslaved while those "enlightened with knowledge" would be better able to protect their liberties.

Adams's preoccupation with political and governmental affairs—which caused considerable separation from his wife and children—had a distinct familial context, which he articulated in While in London, Adams learned of a convention being planned to amend the Articles of Confederation.

He 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. Adams's Defence is described as an articulation of the theory of mixed government. Adams contended that social classes exist in every political society, and that a good government must accept that reality.

For centuries, dating back to Aristotle , a mixed regime balancing monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy — that is, the king, the nobles, and the people — was required to preserve order and liberty. Wood has maintained that Adams's political philosophy had become irrelevant by the time the Federal Constitution was ratified.

By then, American political thought, transformed by more than a decade of vigorous debate as well as formative experiential pressures, had abandoned the classical perception of politics as a mirror of social estates. Americans' new understanding of popular sovereignty was that the citizenry were the sole possessors of power in the nation.

Representatives in the government enjoyed mere portions of the people's power and only for a limited time. Adams was thought to have overlooked this evolution and revealed his continued attachment to the older version of politics. On separation of powers , Adams wrote that, "Power must be opposed to power, and interest to interest. He wrote that a strong executive would defend the people's liberties against "aristocrats" attempting to take it away.

There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves. Adams first saw the new United States Constitution in the fall of To Jefferson, he wrote that he read it "with great satisfaction. Adams never owned a slave and declined on principle to utilize slave labor, saying, "I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in such abhorrence, that I have never owned a negro or any other slave, though I have lived for many years in times, when the practice was not disgraceful, when the best men in my vicinity thought it not inconsistent with their character, and when it has cost me thousands of dollars for the labor and subsistence of free men, which I might have saved by the purchase of negroes at times when they were very cheap.

He spoke out in against a bill to emancipate slaves in Massachusetts, saying that the issue was presently too divisive, and so the legislation should "sleep for a time. Throughout his lifetime Adams expressed controversial and shifting views regarding the virtues of monarchical and hereditary political institutions. Many of these attacks are considered to have been scurrilous, including suggestions that he was planning to "crown himself king" and "grooming John Quincy as heir to the throne.

He was leaning toward monarchy and aristocracy as distinct from kings and aristocrats Decidedly, sometime after he became vice-president, Adams concluded that the United States would have to adopt a hereditary legislature and a monarch If you suppose that I have ever had a design or desire of attempting to introduce a government of King, Lords and Commons, or in other words an hereditary Executive, or an hereditary Senate, either into the government of the United States, or that of any individual state, in this country, you are wholly mistaken.

There is not such a thought expressed or intimated in any public writing or private letter of mine, and I may safely challenge all of mankind to produce such a passage and quote the chapter and verse. According to Luke Mayville, Adams synthesized two strands of thought: To counter that danger, the power of the wealthy needed to be channeled by institutions, and checked by a strong executive.

Adams was raised a Congregationalist , since his ancestors were Puritans. According to biographer David McCullough , "as his family and friends knew, Adams was both a devout Christian, and an independent thinker, and he saw no conflict in that.

Everett concludes that "Adams strove for a religion based on a common sense sort of reasonableness" and maintained that religion must change and evolve toward perfection.

Adams at one point said that Christianity had originally been revelatory , but was being misinterpreted in the service of superstition, fraud, and unscrupulous power. Frazer notes that while he shared many perspectives with deists and often used deistic terminology, "Adams clearly was not a deist.

Deism rejected any and all supernatural activity and intervention by God; consequently, deists did not believe in miracles or God's providence. Adams, however, did believe in miracles, providence, and, to a certain extent, the Bible as revelation. In his retirement years, Adams moved away from some of the Puritan sentiments of his youth and closer to more mainstream Enlightenment religious ideals.

He blamed institutional Christianity for causing much suffering but continued to be an active Christian while maintaining that religion was necessary for society. He became a Unitarian , rejecting the divinity of Jesus. Holmes argued that Adams, while adopting central tenets of the Unitarian creed, accepted Jesus as the redeemer of humanity and the biblical accounts of his miracles as true.

Franklin summed up what many thought of Adams when he said, "He means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but sometimes, and in some things, absolutely out of his senses. Adams strongly felt that he would be forgotten and underappreciated by history.

These feelings often manifested themselves through envy and verbal attacks on other Founders. Historian George Herring argues that Adams was the most independent-minded of the Founders. I sighed, sobbed, and groaned, and sometimes screeched and screamed. And I must confess to my shame and sorrow that I sometimes swore. His signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts is almost always condemned.

According to Ferling, Adams's political philosophy was "out of step" with the way that the country was heading. The country tended further away from Adams's views of order and the rule of law and towards Jeffersonian ideas about liberty and weak central government. In the years following his retirement from public life, as first Jeffersonianism and then Jacksonian democracy grew to dominate American politics, Adams was largely forgotten. In the presidential election , Whig candidate William Henry Harrison was attacked by Democrats on the false allegation that he had once been a supporter of John Adams.

Pollard , a strong supported of the Confederacy during the American Civil War , singled out Adams, writing:. The first President from the North, John Adams, asserted and essayed to put into practice the supremacy of the "National" power over the states and the citizens thereof.

He was sustained in his attempted usurpations by all the New England states and by a powerful public sentiment in each of the Middle States.

The " strict constructionists " of the Constitution were not slow in raising the standard of opposition against a pernicious error. In the 21st century, Adams remains less well known than many of America's other Founding Fathers.

McCullough argued that "[t]he problem with Adams is that most Americans know nothing about him. Ferling says that the man who emerges is one "perpetually at war with himself," whose desire for fame and recognition leads to charges of vanity.

Ferling, in his biography, writes that "Adams was his own worst enemy. He praises Adams for his willingness to acknowledge his deficiencies and for striving to overcome them. McCullough lauds Adams for consistency and honesty, "plays down or explains away" his more controversial actions, such as the dispute over presidential titles and the predawn flight from the White House, and criticizes his friend and rival, Jefferson.

The book sold very well and was very favorably received and, along with the Ferling biography, contributed to a rapid resurgence in Adams's reputation.

Adams is commemorated as the namesake of various counties, buildings, and other items. There is no memorial, no statue It's long past time when we should recognize what he did, and who he was. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the second president of the United States. For his son, the 6th president, see John Quincy Adams. For other uses, see John Adams disambiguation. Diplomacy of John Adams. United States presidential election, Presidency of John Adams.

Alien and Sedition Acts. List of federal judges appointed by John Adams. Bibliography of John Adams. List of memorials to John Adams. Hamilton's critics, including Abigail, saw in his military buildups the signs of an aspiring military dictator. None ever understood so ill the causes of its own power, or so wantonly destroyed them. Kurtz argues that Hamilton and his supporters were primarily responsible for the destruction of the Federalist Party.

They viewed the party as a personal tool and played into the hands of the Jeffersonians by building up a large standing army and creating a feud with Adams. Chernow writes that Hamilton believed that by eliminating Adams, he could eventually pick up the pieces of the ruined Federalist Party and lead it back to dominance: And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of society.

May we not even say that the form of government is best which provides most effectually for a pure selection of these natural [aristocrats] into the offices of government?

Birth and wealth are conferred on some men as imperiously by nature, as genius, strength, or beauty. When aristocracies are established by human laws and honour, wealth, and power are made hereditary by municipal laws and political institutions, then I acknowledge artificial aristocracy to commence. A good government had to account for that reality. Archived from the original on August 1, Retrieved December 5, Archived from the original on April 7, Retrieved June 7, Retrieved November 28, Archived from the original on April 15, Retrieved August 22, Archived from the original on June 14, Retrieved July 5, Archived from the original on September 6, Retrieved September 7, Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Retrieved November 15, Archived PDF from the original on August 6, Retrieved October 8, Archived from the original on June 24, Retrieved September 22, Retrieved October 11, Archived from the original on March 24, The Works of Thomas Jefferson.

Embassy The Hague, Netherlands". Archived from the original on May 27, Retrieved September 18, Architect of the Capitol.

Retrieved July 15, Retrieved on July 23, Retrieved September 29, Dave Leip's Atlas of U. Retrieved 18 July Retrieved August 18, Retrieved March 11, Retrieved August 3, Retrieved November 13, Retrieved September 26, Retrieved August 20, The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, Retrieved August 23, Avalon Project, Yale Law School. Retrieved August 29, President of the United States, [24 October ]". Retrieved June 5, Archived from the original on September 9, Archived from the original on August 12, Retrieved June 29, Retrieved on August 15, Retrieved October 7, Retrieved December 28, United First Parish Church.

Archived from the original on September 11, Retrieved September 25, The First Hundred Years, — Retrieved July 28, Defence of the Constitutions, ". Archived from the original on January 25, Retrieved March 2, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Retrieved July 6, Archived from the original on February 3, Retrieved February 3, Archived PDF from the original on December 19, Archived from the original on July 30, Retrieved July 17, John Adams and the Fear of American Oligarchy.

The Political Theology of the American Founding. Retrieved October 30, Retrieved November 7, The Los Angeles Times. Led by Thomas Jefferson, they wanted a loose governmental structure that granted power primarily to the states. Initially meant to secure the Federalist party and quash opposition, the Acts were composed of four laws, supposedly dealing with the protection of national security: The Alien Enemies Act defined how the government could determine whether foreigners posed a threat in wartime—this Act was not used in The second, the Alien Friends Act, allowed the president to deport any foreigner—in peacetime and in war—whom he deemed a threat to the country.

The third, the Naturalization Act, lengthened the time it took become a citizen of the US from five to fourteen years. The fourth and final act, also the most controversial and unconstitutional, the Sedition Act, forbade any individual to oppose "any measure or measures of the United States," or to speak, write or print anything about the president that caused him "contempt or disrepute.

Of the seventeen people charged under the Act, ten were convicted. The acts were meant to help solidify the Federalists hold on power in the and elections. Although Adams never vigorously enforced these laws, they quickly became synonymous with the Federalist Party and Adams in particular.

Far from helping the Federalists, however, the Alien and Sedition Acts turned much of the country against them. In , he, along with John Jay and Benjamin Franklin helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris , which officially ended hostilities between America and Britain. Adams lobbied for the vice presidency and won.

In early elections, the president and vice president were elected separately. Adams took office in March , and his presidency was quickly taken up with foreign affairs.

Britain and France were at war, which directly affected American trade. During his tenure, Washington had managed to maintain neutrality, but tensions had escalated by the time Adams became president. In , 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-Perigord , demanded a large bribe.

An undeclared naval war broke out between the U. Adams squandered his popularity by signing the Alien and Sedition Acts into law in Jefferson and his allies, who called themselves the Democratic-Republicans, assailed these laws, declaring them unconstitutional. Many Americans, having shed one oppressive government, feared that their new government might resort to similar tactics. Although the laws were never abused and, in fact, had built-in expirations, they hurt Adams and helped cost him the election in 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 , he was encouraged to begin exchanging letters with his old rival Thomas Jefferson, and their voluminous correspondence lasted the rest of their lives. By that point, the elder Adams and Jefferson were among the last living signers of the Declaration of Independence.

What he did not know was that earlier that morning Jefferson, too, had passed away. Start your free trial today. We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!


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John Adams (October 30 [O.S. October 19] – July 4, ) was an American statesman and Founding Father who served as the first Vice President (–) and second President of the United States (–).

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John Adams, a remarkable political philosopher, served as the second President of the United States (), after serving as the first Vice President under President George Washington.

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Feb 04,  · John Adams. Find out about John Adams' political career in the newly formed United States, from his vice presidency under George Washington to his . John Adams served one presidential term from March 3 to March 3. This was the 3rd presidential term ever served, as George Washington served the first 2.

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But he was a one-term president, having entered office under the cloud of a shady bargain involving the electoral college. He died of a stroke while serving in Congress, in the same room as the young Abraham Lincoln who, unfortunately, had never the time to know and learn from him. a. John Adams () 2nd president of the United States. John Adams Fast Facts Second President of the United States. Share Flipboard Email Print Portrait of John Adams, Second President of the United States. Oil by Charles Wilson Peale, Independence National Historical Park 1 Term. First Lady: Abigail Smith. John Adams Quote.