John Adams was the first vice president and the second president of the United States. He wasn’t always a very popular president because of his stubbornness and bold manner of speaking, but he was dedicated to his country and often did what he thought was best for the country regardless of how it hurt him politically. He lived a very long life and enjoyed a close friendship with Thomas Jefferson, who would become the next president of the US.
Adams was born on Oct. 30, 1735 in Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1755, he graduated from Harvard College and taught grammar school for the next three years in Worcester. Although his father had wanted Adams to pursue a career in ministry, he chose instead to study law and then began practicing it in Boston. In 1764, he married a minister’s daughter, Abigail Smith.
John and Abigail had five children: three boys and two girls. One of the boys, John Quincy Adams, would follow in his father’s footsteps and become president.
Adams didn’t like England’s power over the colonies, but he was a man of honor and integrity. In 1770, he agreed to defend the British soldiers who were being charged with murder in what is known as the Boston Massacre. Although the soldiers had fired on a crowd and killed five people, Adams argued that they had been provoked.
In 1774, Adams became a representative of the First Continental Congress, and he and his cousin, Samuel Adams, argued for leaving England’s rule. After the Second Continental Congress the following year, Adams nominated George Washington to serve as commander of the Continental Army and he chose Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence.
President John Adams
During the first presidential election, Adams came in second to George Washington and was elected Washington’s vice president. After Washington’s term, Adams ran again and barely won over his good friend Jefferson, receiving 71 of the electoral votes to Jefferson’s 68. Jefferson became vice president and, unfortunately, the two friends had differing political views that eventually drove their relationship apart.
Adams made a few unpopular decisions that didn’t go over well with the public, but were the right thing to do for the country in his opinion. One example is when America tried to trade with France, the French government demanded a bribe in advance. Adams recalled the delegates and began building up a naval military. Instead of going to war, which would have been the popular action, he instead tried one more time for a peaceful resolution – and succeeded.
The presidential election of 1800 had Adams losing to Jefferson and the second president immediately went home, where he planned to retire and write. As time went on, Adams started regretting the loss of his friendship and reached out to Jefferson so that they could reconcile before it was too late. “You and I ought not to die, before We have explained ourselves to each other,” he wrote.
At the age of 91, Adams died on July 4, 1826. His last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” however, ironically, Jefferson had passed away just a few hours earlier.