John Adams


Michael Benton, Contributor

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John Adams was the first Vice President and second President of the United States as well as a member of the First Continental Congress, a signee of the Declaration of Independence and a leading diplomat in securing the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The father of John Adams, John Adams, Sr., was a Deacon of a Congregationalist parish in Braintree, Massachusetts as well as a farmer, cobbler, and town selectman in charge of developing schools and roads. The Adams family was descended directly from early Puritan pilgrims to the Massachusetts Bay Colony who fled religious persecution in England. The elder John Adams was Harvard educated and expected his son to follow in his footsteps by entering the clergy. The younger John Adams would accept a scholarship to Harvard at the age of 16 but did not see himself fitting into the role of a priest and instead committed himself to the study of law.

John Adams was a central figure in the movement for American Independence and the subsequent political decisions that created a nascent nation. Although he defeated Thomas Jefferson in the Presidential Election of 1796, some of his policies were unpopular and he lost his bid for re-election to Jefferson in 1800. The most unpopular move President Adams made was the signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts which outlawed open dissent and severely limited free speech. He made this decision during the crisis of a conflict brewing with France known as the Quasi-War. France had just undergone its bloody Revolution and Adams' Federalist allies feared that their political opponents were preparing a similar revolt in the United States. This legislation was so unpopular it can be seen as a major reason for Adams' loss in 1800. He retired from politics after leaving the White House, but made one last move to spite Jefferson; Adams appointed a number of conservative federal judges in the last hours of his presidency who were all opposed to the policies of President-elect Jefferson. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4th, 1826. Adams lived long enough to witness his son, John Quincy Adams (sometimes misspelled John Quincey Adams), take office as the sixth President of the United States in 1825. John Q. Adams was known for his success as Secretary of State before assuming the role of President.

There are a number of modern examples of people named after John Adams or with names relatively close that get confused during searches on the web. John Adam may refer to a math professor at Old Dominion University; Dr. John A. Adam's website tells us that he has a focus on mathematics in the natural world. John S. Adams may refer to John Stacey Adams, a workplace and behavioral psychologist who put together an equity theory about a worker's output in relation to their perception of deserved benefits. John Joseph Adams is a well-known editor of Science Fiction and Fantasy novels and Adam John is a lesser known artist of electronic music who sometimes goes by Kid Kryptic.