John Adams, Second President of the United States


Who was John Adams?

John Adams was the second president of the United States. He was the first political leader who had to deal with democracy as we know it. Had it not been for his support of strong institutions – Supreme Court, Executive, Senate and The Military – America would have collapsed during the Civil War under President Lincoln. America would not be the strong democracy that is today. While George Washington was skillful in the battlefield, Adams negotiated a loan with European bankers to support the revolutionary war, his diplomatic and negotiation skills led to the 1783 Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War.

Adams served during the formative years of the republic as Washington’s Vice President for two consecutive terms from 1789 to 1797 and as president for one term, from 1797 to 1801. He run for a second term but was defeated by Thomas Jefferson.

As president and as a politician he faced political isolation and opposition from his own cabinet partly due to his stubborn independence and unwillingness to compromise. His political position was the reflection of his value system trusting no one’s opinion, only his own and maybe his wife’s Abigail. He believed that the executive should stand above politics and the legislature was subject to corruption therefore refusing to work closely with it.

Early in his career his fierce opposition to the Stamp Act and writs of assistance as well as his role in the the Boston Massacre Trials rose him to prominence. He was not a popular leader like his cousin Samuel Adams but he became influential through his knowledge of law, historical analysis and principles of republicanism.

He supported independence from Britain since the beginning. John Adams served as a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress between 1774 and 1777 promoting a federal union among the colonies. In 1776 he published “Thoughts on Government” which became a leading authority in the writing of the states’ constitutions. He suggested a separation of power among the executive, legislative and judicial branches to avoid individual frailties. Adams served as a diplomat in Europe from 1778 to 1788. He was Vice President during George Washington’s two administrations before he became president.

He married Abigail Adams with whom he had five surviving children. Their second oldest child, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth president of the United States.


John Adams signature


Back to John Adams Homepage

Comments are closed.