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Moore 1Isabella MooreMrs. Smith American LiteratureNovember 27 2017What It Means to be An American to John Adams “The jaws of power are always opened to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy freedom of thinking, speaking and writing.” (Adams “iz quotes.

….” 1) What did it mean to be an American to John Adams? Throughout his life, there are many different evidences of his leadership in our nation. As a young boy, he fought for education, as a young man he fought for British soldiers rights, as an older man he fought for his country, and on his death bed he fought for his friend. To John Adams, being an American meant fighting for what was right or fighting for a cause he believed in. To John Adams, being an American meant fighting for what was right or fighting for a cause he believed in.

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John Adams was born on October 30th, 1735 in Braintree, (now Quincy) Massachusetts. ( editors 2) He was the oldest of three children, and the son of John and Susanna Adams. John’s father was a shoe maker as well as a deacon and official in the local government. ( staff)  His ancestry originated from a man named John Alden, a man that was aboard the Mayflower. (Lossing 28)  His father wanted John to have a good education.

But from an early age, John was not very interested in his studies. He was sent to a public school in his youth where he said that his teacher was very inattentive to his students. Moore 2John Adams said “My Enthusiasm for Sports and Inattention to Books alarmed my father and we would continually enter conversations on the Subject.” (Adams “The Autobiography….” 2) During these conversations John’s father expressed his wishes that his son would attend college someday but John would blatantly tell him he had no interest in books.

John’s father continued to take him to school and tell him to attend to his studies until John brought up a proposition. He said he would apply himself to school and study if he would ask Mr. Marsh (an owner of a boarding school) to take John on as one of his pupils. Adams’ father agreed to this and John soon began to become more interested in his studies. (Adams “The Autobiography..

..” 2) John clearly had a knack for diplomacy and reasoning, and with these talents John Adams was fighting for a better education, fighting for what he thought was right.  At age sixteen John Adams attended Harvard University on a scholarship. ( editors 2) He continued to thrive in his academic pursuits and made many friends at college. Throughout his college years, John Adams’ father expressed the wish that he would go into ministry. John soon found that he wished not to go into ministry but into law.

He already had a knack for diplomacy and reasoning, but he also had very good public speaking skills. Adams knew his father was a thoughtful person and could be reasoned with. Others in his family disliked law and wished he follow through with his fathers wishes. (Adams “The Autobiography.

…”  3)   John Adams graduated college in 1755 and moved back to Worcester, Massachusetts.

 (Ellis 2) For the next three years, he taught at a grammar school. (Ellis 2) During this time, he boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Putnam.  Mr. Putnam was an attorney and had a small library with all Moore 3the essential law books that Adams eagerly read and studied under Mr. Putnam. Apparently, Mr.

 Putnam thought all religion was pompous folly and would continually argue with Adams about the subject. John would also argue and discuss many different topics with many, different gentlemen in the town. (Adams “The Autobiography….” 4-5) In 1758, John Adams time was up with Mr.

Putnam. (Adams “The Autobiography…” 5) John Adams’ parents then asked if he would return to Braintree and be admitted to the bar there. John Adams did go back to Braintree to be admitted to the bar. So, in October of 1758 Adams was brought before some very important lawyers, tested, and admitted to the bar. (Adams “The Autobiography.

….” 6) One of the most important times in his law career was later in 1770. John Adams was asked to defend the soldiers that fired that fateful day, an event that would later be called the Boston Massacre. He accepted the job, despite the fact that it would make him unpopular among those against the British.

Even though he did not like the British laws and the unfair taxation, he believed that everyone deserved legal rights and representation. (Ellis 4) John Adams continued to fight for what he thinks is right. Fight so that even the British soldiers could have rights. During the revolutionary war, John Adams was very influential. He wrote many articles and essays such as “A dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law” (1765) and many writings that opposed the “Townshend Acts” (1767). ( editors 2) He fought for a cause that he believed in, a cause that he believed was right, he fought against British powers.

His essay on “a Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law” was published in the Boston Gazette. “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the Moore 4frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain,” (Adams “A Dissertation…

” 1) This is Adams calling his fellow Americans to arms to preserve liberty and to fight for there country. Adams believed all Americans had rights, that the taxation and overbearing presence of the British was unacceptable, and something had to be done about it.   In 1774, Adams was elected to join the delegation of Massachusetts and attended the first annual Continental Congress. (Ellis 4) He and his cousin Samuel Adams soon became leaders of this radical faction. This faction was said to be a part of Congress that didn’t want to make peace with the British and argued that parliament didn’t have enough authority to tax the Americans.

 (Ellis 4) During the first Continental Congress, John Adams nominated George Washington to be the commander in chief of the continental army. He also nominated Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence.(biography.

com editors 3) He resolved that they create independent governments for each colony. This proposition was later accepted. In 1776, John Adams wrote the preamble to this resolution. (Lossing 30) He was also chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence and signed the finished document on August 2, 1776. (Lossing 30) Without Adams’ influence during the Continental Congress, American history would be vastly different. Other contributions include, drafting the Plan of Treaties (1776) and being elected the head of the Board of War and Ordinance, which supplied the continental army.

(Ellis 6) Adams is continuously dedicated to the cause he believes in and fights for.  In 1777, John Adams was chosen to join Benjamin Franklin in Paris, France where they would handle negotiations with the French. At this point in the American Revolution, America was looking to form an alliance with the French. Adams sailed in 1778 and brought along his Moore 5second child, John Quincy Adams. Unfortunately, by the time John had arrived, the negotiations had finished.

He returned to Massachusetts in the summer of 1779. During the time he was in the states, he was drafted to write the “Massachusetts Constitution”, which was completed in1780. After this, Adams was again asked to go to Paris to join Franklin to negotiate the end of the war. At this point John and Abigail (his wife) had four children, and on this journey Adams took John Quincy and his youngest son Charles.

Later in 1784, Abigail and John’s two other children joined him in Paris. It was said that John had a fiery temper and that during the negotiations the combination of John’s strong personality and Benjamin’s at ease manner made the perfect team. When the negotiations were finished, John stayed in Europe and didn’t return until 1789.

During those ten years, John facilitated a commercial treaty with Britain. While he was there, he studied European politics. As a result of his studying, he wrote a three volume book of notes and observations hoping to help America achieve a strong republican government. The book was called “A Difference of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America.” He published this and another book with notes about this study in 1787 and 1790. Also during that time, he was appointed an American minister in the British court in 1785.

He resigned from this position and returned to the states in 1789. John Adams dedicated so much of his time to the causes he believed in. Even if it meant being away from his family. (Ellis 6-8) When John Adams arrived back in the states, he attended the Continental Congress where George Washington was nominated to be on the ballot for the nations first presidential election. ( staff 3)Adams was also nominated for the ballot, but as expected, George Washington won a unanimous vote.

(Ellis 10) This led John Adams to his vice presidency. As Moore 6vice president, Adams did very little, his only jobs were to cast votes if only to break a tie and support various plans set up by the cabinet. (Ellis 10) John Adams disliked vice presidency, and even described it as “the most insignificant office that ever the Invention of man contrived or his Imagination conceived.” (Ellis 10) This shows the immense passion John had for politics and his continuous dedication to the causes he believed in.  In 1795, Washington announced that he would not continue with a third term and resigned. With this opening, John decided to run for president a third time, this time against Thomas Jefferson. John Adams barely won 71-68. (Ellis 11) This meant Thomas Jefferson would be his vice president.

This also meant that the vice president and president were in different political parties. This led to bitter rivalry between the two friends. (Tindall, Shi 226) In addition, John Adams had a difficult time with his cabinet because of their loyalty to Washington’s memory. It was a hard task succeeding one of the most influential people in the Revolutionary war. (Ellis 11) During Washington’s presidency, war had broken out between France and Britain.

Throughout his presidency, Washington was able to keep the nation neutral, but after he resigned the problem was now put into Adams’s hands. ( staff 3) American ships on their way to British ports were being raided by the French.

By the time John became president, almost three hundred ships had been plundered by the French. (Tindall, Shi 223) John decided it was best to make peace with France, so he sent several advisers to make negotiations. The French then demanded a bribe of “$250,000.” In reaction to this, John hurriedly asked his delegates home and refused the offer. (Tindall, Shi 223) When news of this Moore 7got out, Americans began to talk of war.  There was discussion and arguments between political parties on this subject. The Federalists wanted to make war with France instead of alienating Britain.

The Democratic-Republicans wished to make peace with France. Because Adams wanted to stay neutral,political parties attacked him from both sides. (Ellis 11-12) Soon an undeclared war between the French and American navy broke out. ( staff 4) The Federalist part of the cabinet wanted to raise an army of thirty thousand men. The Navy doubled in size because of the wishes of the Federalists.

It went on for two years (1798-1800.) (Ellis 12) Adams was determined to maintain peace with France, so he did not draft a declaration of war and sent yet another party of delegates to negotiate peace. This time the delegates succeeded and made peace with France, despite the cabinet’s wishes. This political move made Adams very unpopular. But Adams acted wisely, saving America from a terrible war that could have devastated the brand new country. (Ellis 12) This shows Adams’ continuous and tireless dedication of doing what he believed was right.  At the end of the undeclared war with France, John Adams was pressured by the federalist congress to sign the “Alien and Sedition Act,” this act allowed the government to dismiss foreign-born inhabitants.

In addition, It would accuse newspaper writers/editors who published “false scandalous, and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States.” (Ellis 12) There were several indictments against a few newspapers under the act. This became very unpopular with the people and because Adams had signed it, he received most of the blame. Later “he came to regard the sedition act as the biggest political blunder of his life” (Ellis 12). In the election of 1800, Adams went up against Jefferson again and lost by eight points. Burr ran as well and received more votes than Adams, Moore 8making Burr the new vice president and Jefferson the new president. (Ellis 12) Though Adams was not the most popular president he worked tirelessly for his country and to keep them living in peace.

Though politics dominated John Adams’ life, there was also his family, which was something very dear to his heart. In 1764, John Adams married Abigail Smith, a lady who lived in Weymouth not too far from Braintree. (Ellis 3) He said “I married Abigail Smith a connection which has been the source of all my felicity, in life, although a sense of duty which forced me away from her and my Children for so many Years has produced all the griefs of my heart and all that I esteem real afflictions in Life.” (Adams “The Autobiography…

” 9) They had a wonderful relationship. They had four children, Abigail Amelia, John Quincy, Thomas Boylston, Charles, and Susanna Adams, who died an infant. (Ellis 3) Abigail was said to be well read and maybe had as strong a personality as Adams. (Ellis 3) Unfortunately, she died in 1818 before she could see her son become president. (Lossing 32) John, on the other  hand, had the privilege of seeing his son, John Quincy Adams, become our sixth president.

Earlier while the whole family was in Europe, John had found friendship in Thomas Jefferson who was sent in Franklin’s place later in the peace negotiations. He was said to be an honorary part of the family. John and Thomas were good friends until Adams’ presidency, when the realization of their political differences drew them apart.

(Ellis 8)           After Adams retired from presidency, he took up more reading and corresponded with a physician named Benjamin Rush. (Ellis 13) In 1812, Adams was encouraged to exchange letters with Thomas Jefferson, his old friend/rival. ( staff 4) They corresponded for a very Moore 9long time and had almost written 158 letters to each other in total. Their letters were “generally Regarded as the most intellectually impressive correspondence between American statesmen in all of American history” (Ellis 14). Around 1834, he was asked to be a member of the Massachusetts convention to revise the Constitution. He politely declined because of his elderly age. (Lossing 32) On July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, John Adams died.

He was ninety years old and his last words were “Thomas Jefferson survives” ( staff 4). Even at the end of his life he continued to fight for his friends, family, and country. John Adams was an inspiring person and a immense influence on our country. He fought for his country, friends, and family. He fought for what he believed in. He made a few mistakes on the way, but making mistakes is human, its the wise people that learn from them. Throughout Adams’s history he continued to work tirelessly and dedicated his life to the causes he believed in even if it meant personal sacrifice.

From his early childhood all the way to his last breath, he fought. To John Adams, being an American meant fighting for what was right or fighting for a cause he believed in. Everyone should have something they are willing to fight for..

..Maybe it’s friendships, family or country. A good cause is always worth fighting for.         


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