Students of U.S. History should get to know all about John Adams. Who was John Adams? He was lawyer from Massachusetts, an original member of the First Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence (as well as an adviser on its writing), a high-ranking diplomat who represented the United States in negotiations for peace with Britain, and the first Vice President as well as the second President of the United States. He was a leader in the Federalist Party before it was an official party and believed strongly in the role of a powerful, centralized government. What did John Adams do? Before the War of Independence, he gained notoriety for his arguments against the Stamp Act of 1765 and his legal defense of the British soldiers who committed the Boston Massacre; despite his reservations and his views on liberty from Britain, he showed enormous integrity in taking on their case. He was chosen as one of five men to represent Massachusetts at the First Continental Congress and was an early proponent of revolution, helping to win approval for the writing of the Declaration of Independence. At first, many believed he should take on the job, but he was sure that Thomas Jefferson was a better writer and instead played an advisory role. During the war, he was part of the diplomatic team that went to Europe seeking assistance for the Revolution from enemies of England, including France. He was also key in the negotiations in Paris that ended the war. Adams then took up a diplomatic post in London where his wife, Abigail, joined him with their two eldest children.
One of the most important things about John Adams is that he was a prolific writer of letters to his political friends and enemies as well as his highly opinionated wife. Upon returning to America, John Adams was elected as the Vice President under George Washington's administration. During this period, he began to develop a political rivalry with his old friend, Thomas Jefferson, who was now a leader in the Democratic-Republican faction opposed to Federalist policies. In the election of 1796, Adams defeated Jefferson by a very small margin and their friendship deteriorated further. Jefferson had spread information about John Adams that he thought might derail his rivals chances and vice versa. After only one term, Adams was defeated by Jefferson in the election of 1800. For years they did not write to each other at all until finally a mutual friend reminded them how cordially they first met and, in retirement, their friendship was renewed. Some information on Adams proves that he was the one who was more personally hurt by their political rivalry.
Info about John Adams can be found throughout the web and especially in certain books. Many of his letters have been published and more recently an HBO miniseries was produced about John Adams based on a book by historian David McCullough. John Adams information for kids can be found online or in the book "John Adams: Young Revolutionary" by Jan Adkins and Meryl Henderson.