Painting of John Adams
|Alma mater:||Harvard University|
|Born||October 30, 1735|
|Died||July 4, 1826 (aged 90)|
He generally was a Federalist, but was not an official member. He was also a Founding father.
As a Founding Father, he was a hero and as president, he is remembered for keeping American out of war with England and France, but power went through his head and became one of the most overlooked presidents.
Before being a delegate to the First Continental Congress, Adams worked as a trial lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts, where he gained notoriety for successfully defending the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre. He persuaded the jury that "law should be deaf to the clamors of the populace." Many angry conservatives at the time were very ticked at this, because they thought that law wasn't real or that Americans shouldn't defend their oppressors. He married Abigail Adams, and had three children.
During the American Revolution, Adams served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and is given credit by such experts such as HBO for "uniting the States of America."
In 1780, John Adams said " There is nothing which I dread so much as division of the republic into two great parties." Ironically by 1797, he would be the leader of the Federalist Party against the Democratic-Republican Party.
During the system of the time, during a presidential election, the person who received the most votes became President, while the runner-up was named the Vice President. George Washington obviously won the election with 69 votes, Adams was second with 34. On April 21, 1789, he was sworn in as the First Vice President of the United States, 9 days before Washington was sworn in.
On July 18, 1789, as President of the Senate, he cast his first tie-breaking vote. The motion before the Senate was whether the President would have to require the advice and consent of the Senate for the removal of Cabinet officers as to the same as to the appointment. What would become the Federalist faction, the faction Adams supported opposed this bill as they felt it endured the president to the Senate's will. The faction that would become the Democratic-Republicans, who favored restriction on the President's power, felt the president already had enough power. Adams actually persuaded a few senators to oppose the bill. The final vote came to 9 in favor, 9 against. Adams voted against the measure, defeating it. In a response letter, Adams was accused of casting his vote with the presidency "only because [he] looked up to the same goal". Adams responded, "I am forced to look up to it and bound by duty to do so, sir, as there is only one breath of one mortal between me and it."
He cast 29 tie-breaking votes in total, more than any vice president besides John C. Calhoun who holds the record at 31.
On at least one occasion, Vice President Adams persuaded senators to vote against legislation he opposed, and at the start of his time in office he frequently lectured the body on procedural and policy matters.
Adams's successfully avoided a war with France and England. This was one of his most notable achievement as President. Many Republicans at that time, including his friend and successor Thomas Jefferson, favored the French, but he stood by principle. He has taken critique, however, for his signing the Alien and Sedition Acts, which was perceived by some people to be in violation of the First Amendment (and the Due Process clause). It is interesting for Adams's conservative critics to fly at Adams for this when our last President was basically violating the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights. (see USA PATRIOT Act )
Pros and Cons
- Founding Father.
- First Vice President.
- Build up the military to respectable proportions.
- Appointed John Marshall as Chief Justice.
- Created the United States Navy
- Never owned slaves, unlike several slave owners like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson
- Opposed slavery
- Avoided the European Wars
- Peace negotiations with France
- Helped Jefferson edit the Declaration of Independence
- Passed the Alien and Sedition Acts
- Was criticized by both the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans
- Known for his rage outbursts
- Was more aristocratic than his peers, even wanting the President to be called "His Highness".
- The military buildup was a bit excessive
- Appointed Federalist "midnight judges" as lame-duck president to make incoming Thomas Jefferson's administration difficult.
- Although Adams is certainly to be commended for stopping short at the brink of war, it was Adams himself who led the country so dangerously close to disaster. If he had not overreacted to relatively minor French provocations, the war hysteria would never have gotten started. Actually, Adams seems to have been more interested in discrediting his pro-French, Republican opponents than in conducting a sensible and consistent foreign policy.