Watchman Willie Martin Archive

John  Adams,

                                                      1735 ‑‑ 1826


    John Adams the second US president, born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts,

    He studied at Harvard and settled into law practice in Boston.   Although he defended

   British soldiers after  the Boston Massacre (1770), he had also shown "patriot' sympathies     by pamphleteering against the Stamp Act in 1765. Having gained prominence as a political   thinker and writer, he was sent as a Massachusetts delegate to the First (1774) and Second (1775‑‑7) Continental Congresses; he helped edit Jefferson's Declaration of Independence and led   the debate that ratified it (1776). During the American Revolution he chaired several

  committees and served on many more, was commissioner to France and Holland, and in

1779 drafted the influential Massachusetts constitution. After the war he was ambassador

  to England (1785‑‑8), where he wrote the Defense of the Constitution of the United States.

  After eight frustrating years as vice‑president under Washington (1789‑‑97), he assumed

  the presidency (1797‑‑1801). The prickly Adams proved less able as a practical politician

  than as a theorist; his regime was torn by partisan wrangles between Hamiltonian

  Federalists and Jeffersonian Democrat‑Republicans, all of whom he antagonized; his

  persistence in negotiating peace with France when his fellow Federalists were urging war

  cost him their support. Meanwhile his Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), which virtually

  forbade criticism of the government, outraged many citizens. Defeated for reelection by

  Jefferson in 1800, Adams retired from public life. In later years he pursued an extensive

  correspondence with many men, including his one‑time opponent Thomas Jefferson, and

  both men died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of


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