Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The American President: #2 John Adams

Love me some Paul G!

Please feel free to add anything you want about John Adams

- 2nd President of the USA; Born Oct. 30, 1735 in Braintree (now Quincy), MA; Died July 4th (what a patriot!), 1826 in Quincy, MA, (coincidentally (???) just hours after Thomas Jefferson)

- One term President (March 4th, 1797-March 4th, 1801)

-Adams was the 3rd oldest President to die at age 90 and 253 days, broken only by Ronald Reagan at 93 years 119 days and then by Gerald Ford at 93 years 165 days.
- Nicknames included: Architect of the Revolution and Colossus of debate
- Religion: Unitarian
- Harvard graduate – 1755

-Schoolmaster and lawyer by profession
-Adams spent a considerable amount of time in his early years abroad as ambassador and in other roles working with Britain and France and others to ensure a peaceful existence – he was abroad when the Constitution was put into place.
- Considered founder of the Navy, though no military experience

- MA delegate to Continental Congress (1774-1777); Commissioner to France (1778); Vice President (1789-1797)
- Lost re-election to his own Vice-President, Thomas Jefferson – the two had been quite close at one point, then they drifted far apart politically, only to be reunited through letters during their later years in life.
-Election of 1796 was Adams: 71; Jefferson 68 with no popular vote

-The law stated that the man who came in second would be Vice-President, thus creating the first and only time in our history that opposing political parties took the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, Jefferson being of the newly created Democratic-Republican Party.

- Following Washington was a tough and likely thankless task, but Adams is considered to have done a decent job in the context of history. He is noted, however, for having a tendency to express views that would lead people to believe he still though quite favorably of the old monarch ways, which led many to see him as ‘above’ the common people. He is also blasted for his defense of the Congressional act Alien and Sedation, which in 1798 was aimed at tougher laws against immigrants becoming citizens (mainly pro-French and pro-Jefferson) and it also gave the President more power to deport foreigners who he believed were endangering the nation. Most notably from the Act, though, was the power it gave to prosecute publications and make it illegal to report ‘false, scandalous, and malicious’ items about the government. Jefferson was vehement in his criticism and fought hard to show that states had the right to nullify any federal law they felt was objectionable – this would later be the basis for the southern states in their quest to secede from the union.

Thoughts on his inaugural address of March 4th, 1797:

In the first 6 paragraphs or so Adams speaks of the newly formed union in terms of its growth, from nothing to something strong in so short a period of time. He speaks of his time abroad (over 10 years) and how upon his return he was very pleased with the way the Constitution was put into place and the way that government had been established. He warns of the inherent evil that can exist in politics and how even a small amount of corruption can bring everything crashing down – that people need to be very aware of the process. He then goes on to praise the work of George Washington and then a long long long long long paragraph that ultimately sums up his thankfulness for the position and his swearing to do his duty to the best of his ability… he ends with a nod to the heavens and the ‘Being who is supreme over all…’

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