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American History – John Adams

Since independence, the United States of America has been ruled by a number of presidents. All of them were either successful or failed in some elements. Their decisions had a significant contribution to the history of the U.S. in one way or the other. One of the most popular presidents with considerable contribution to the history of his country is John Adams. His parents lived in Massachusetts. In 1755, John Adams graduated from Harvard and three years later, in Boston, he started professional practice in law (Ellis 5). Adams believed in upholding the law, and therefore, it was hard for him to become a revolutionist.  However, the British Stamp Act of 1765 triggered him to draft resolutions to disagree with the tax imposed on legal documents and newspapers prior to the consent of the colonies (Ellis 5).  His arguments were on the ground that such acts relating to tax were a violation of the people’s rights. Against all odds, Adams strongly held onto his idea. After the massacre in Boston, he defended the British soldiers, even though they were accused of killing five of his fellow countrymen (Ellis 5). In other words, apart from being a skillful diplomat, he was a spokesman for the cause of independence.

The killings of the five Americans caused a massive outcry in America. However, Adams was successful in his defense without weakening the grounds on his political career in the future (Randolph 29). In addition, although he was a conservative of the law, after realizing that these principles could become a catalyst for America to stop being under the British, he got involved tirelessly.  With these efforts, Adams was elected to the First and Second Continental Congresses and also a member in committees that made critical decisions regarding the progress of the newly formed republic.   In addition, Adams had many written articles that supported American independence (Randolph 29). One of his important contributions to American history is that he seconded the motion of Richard Henry Lee to end the colonial rule of the British in America.


Often, John Adams was seen to be an ambitious personality. However, when balanced, these judgments do not add up to the actions that were efficient in the development of the American history (Dunn 10). Upon his appointment to the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence, Adams worked tirelessly to write the draft, the famous document, and forward it to Jefferson. While writing this draft, Adams was guided by the idea that the good of the American Revolution depended on having a writer from Virginia (it was the largest colony and was strategically positioned (Randolph 29). The idea about the relationship between the Virginians and the progress of the U.S. partially led to Adams pressing the Second Continental Congress that would see George Washington being appointed the commander in chief. On the other hand, sometimes he was accused of being difficult to get along with and outside the elite circles of Boston; he struggled to gain prominence (Dunn 10). However, such critics did not outweigh his diplomatic success in persuading the Dutch to render loans to the nations that were under the colonial rule. Secondly, his efforts with other prominent individuals, such as Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, contributed to successful negotiations that would facilitate the end of the revolutionary war through the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

Although Adams was a minister in the American cabinet, he lived in Britain until 1788 and kept his distance from the process of drafting the Constitution that faced controversy. He gained an advantage as the best-qualified candidate for the vice president because although he was close to Washington, he was not directly supporting either of the groups< (Wilson 6).  The proponents of Jefferson’s ideas argued that the national government would have more economic growth than the States. In foreign policy, they supported the French Revolution after 1789 and French struggling with European administration such as the Britain (Wilson 6). On the other hand, those who supported Hamilton’s ideas believed that greater economic benefits would be gained if Americans traded closely with Britain rather than France. On his part, Adams closely supported Washington’s ideas, seemingly putting him on the Hamilton’s side. However, there was a fierce enmity between the two; such that at the end of the first term, Hamilton tried to block Adams’ second term to serve as a vice president and the possibility of being the candidate who would succeed Washington after his term in office expires (Wilson 6).

There was a serious political rivalry between the federalists and the democratic republicans. These conflicts even exposed Washington to serious criticism. Arguably, these criticisms catalyzed Washington’s desire to take a dormant role after the expiry of his second term (Wilson 6). He was convinced that his country was not strong and massive to be drawn into the conflicts between France and Britain. As a result, he adopted a neutrality policy. When Adams gained presidency, he wanted to maintain this policy. However, the course of the present events made it very challenging. Foremost, France regarded the U.S. as being ungrateful for not helping them against the British. As a result, they started attacking the American ships towards the end of 1790s (Wilson 6).

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Adams did not opt for counter attacks, instead he sent emissaries to France in order to resolve the conflict. However, the French did not agree to meet.  Instead, they made a conditional: if the meeting was to be held, the U.S. had to agree on granting a loan of   $10 million and, in addition, to provide $250,000 bribe prior to the negotiation process (Wilson 7).  Following these conditions, Adams felt that they were serious insults to his country. In the midst of these events, Jefferson’s supporters demanded that the president would give the grounds on which his claims were based; Adams supplied the documents, in which he blacked out the names of the French agents. He substituted the letters XYZ thereby supplying the names to expose the affair (Wilson 7). In connection, the XYZ affair elevated his popularity in his efforts to strengthen national defense.

The Americans and French continued with the naval war, although it was not fully declared. In 1800, Napoleon opted for peaceful negotiations as solutions to the prevailing conflict. Due to his neutrality stand and awareness that the effects of colonization were still significant in the United States, Adams agreed to negotiate for peace with France (Wilson 7).  Although it seemed a wise decision, Hamilton and his followers got furious and withdrew their political support for Adams. They further ruined his ideologies enacting the Alien and Seduction Act as a wartime measure. John Adams believed the Act was constitutional because it did not curtail the freedom of speech and press (Wilson 7).  Surprisingly, although John closely followed Washington’s ideas, he did not win his prestige. As a result, he lost during the 1800 elections, and Jefferson became the president.

After losing the elections, Adams returned to Massachusetts in 1801. He spent 25 years writing about his experiences and corresponding with friends. In 1812, Adams wrote many letters to Jefferson in attempts to renew their friendship. Fortunately, it worked, and they reconciled as friends. After his wife Abigail Adams died in 1818, he also wrote to Jefferson telling him how much he misses her (Heid 29). Surprisingly, they died on the same day, marking one of the greatest coincidences in the history of the United States of America.  He died on July 4, 1826, and it was the 50th anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independence. Adams said that Jefferson survives, not knowing that he had died a few hours earlier.  He will be remembered for his support on freedom for the colonies.

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Summarily, although Adams’ critics portrayed him as ambitious, some of his actions and political stand contradicted such perceptions. He made decisions that portrayed him as being more patriotic than a self-centered person: these decisions had a significant impact on the history of the United States of America.  Firstly, his decisions to urge the selection of George Washington to lead the army contradicted the expectations of the citizens in his homeland. Secondly, he took a wise decision not to support the ideas neither the Federalists nor Democratic Republicans. Even though such decisions would have compromised his future political career, Adams kept the United States out of war with either the France or British. Above all, he promoted peace for his new country. This was a wise decision because a war could have caused destructions to the republic that had just attained independence from the British. In addition, he selected another Virginian John Marshall as chief justice. Upon his selection, Marshall was able to mold reforms in both the Supreme Court of the United States of America and federal judiciary in the remarkable ways. The works of John Marshal left an impact on the judiciary for more than thirty years.

Works Cited

Dunn, Joeming. John Adams: 2nd US President. ABDO Publishing Company, 2011. Print.

Ellis, Joseph J. Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. New York: WW Norton & Company, 2001. Print.

Elston, Heidi. John Adams. ABDO Publishing Company, 2010. Print.

Randolph, Ryan P. How to Draw the Life and Times of John Adams. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2006. Print.

Wilson, Richard L. American Political Leaders. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2002. Print.