The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Adams, John

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ADAMS, John, second president of the United States, born Oct. 19, 1735 (O. S.), in that part of the town of Braintree, Mass., on the S. shore of Boston harbor, and some ten miles distant from Boston, which has since been erected into the town of Quincy, where he died, July 4, 1826. He was great-grandson of Henry Adams, who emigrated from England about 1640, with a family of eight sons, becoming one of the early settlers in Braintree, where he had a grant of 40 acres of land. The father of John Adams, a deacon of the church and selectman, was a farmer of limited means, to which he added the business of shoemaking. He was enabled, however, to give a classical education to his eldest son John, who graduated at Harvard college in 1755, and at once took charge of the grammar school in Worcester, Mass. The war with France for the possession of the western country was then at its height; and in a remarkable letter to a young friend, which contains some curious prognostications as to what would be in a hundred years the relative population and commerce of England and her colonies, young Adams describes himself as having turned politician. His school he found but “a school of affliction,” from which he endeavored to gain relief by devoting himself, in addition, to the study of the law. For this purpose he placed himself under the tuition of the only lawyer of whom Worcester, though the shire town of the county, could then boast. He had thought seriously of the clerical profession, but, according to his own expressions in a contemporary letter, “the frightful engines of ecclesiastical councils, of diabolical malice, and Calvinistic good nature,” of the operation of which he had been a witness in some church controversies in his native town of Braintree, had “terrified him out of it.” Already he had longings for distinction. Nothing but want of interest and patronage prevented him from enlisting in the army. Could he have obtained a troop of horse, or a company of foot, he would, so one of his published letters declares, infallibly have been a soldier. After two years' study at Worcester he returned to his father's house in Braintree, and in 1758 commenced life in Suffolk county, of which Boston was the shire town. He gradually introduced himself into practice, and in 1764 married Abigail Smith, a daughter of the minister of the neighboring town of Weymouth, and whose connections occupied a social position superior to that of Mr. Adams's own family. What was still more to the purpose, she was a lady of superior abilities and good sense, and admirably adapted to make him happy. Very shortly after his marriage, the attempt at parliamentary taxation diverted him from law to politics. He promoted the call of a town meeting in Braintree, to instruct the representatives of the town on the subject of the stamp act; and the resolutions which he presented at this meeting were not only voted by the town, but attracted great attention throughout the province, and were adopted word for word by more than forty different towns. Yet Adams, as appears by his published diary, was somewhat alarmed at the violence of the mob in destroying the furniture of Oliver, the stamp distributor, and of Governor Hutchinson, and not a little vexed, as well as alarmed, at the interruption to his own business caused by the refusal of the judges to go on without stamps. He was somewhat consoled, however, by an unexpected appointment on the part of the town of Boston to be one of their counsel along with Jeremiah Gridley, the king's attorney and head of the bar, and James Otis, the celebrated orator, to support a memorial addressed to the governor and council that the courts might proceed with business, though no stamps were to be had. It fell to Adams, as junior counsel, to open the case for the petitioners, and he boldly took the ground — in which his two seniors, the one from his position, the other from his committals in his recently published book on the “Rights of the Colonies,” were prevented from following him — that the stamp act was absolutely void, parliament having no right to tax the colonies. Nothing, however, came of this application; the governor and council declined to act, on the ground that it belonged to the judges, not to them, to decide. The repeal of the stamp act soon put an end to the suspension of business, which indeed had only extended to the superior court, the inferior courts going on without stamps. It was on this same occasion that Mr. Adams first made his appearance as a writer in the “Boston Gazette.” Among other papers of his was a series of four articles, which were republished in a London newspaper, and subsequently in a collection of documents relating to the taxation controversy, printed together in a volume. The papers as originally published had no title; in the printed volume they were called an “Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law.” They began indeed with some reference to these subjects, but might with much more propriety have been entitled an “Essay on the Government and Rights of New England.” Mr. Adams's style was formed, as is evident from these pieces, from the moment he began to write. They may be found in his collected works, edited by his grandson. Mr. Adams's law business continued gradually to increase, and in 1768 he removed to Boston. In that and the next year he was one of the committee to draft instructions to the representatives of the town — a duty which the committee intrusted to him, though he refused to attend and speak at town meetings. In 1770 he was chosen a representative to the general court, notwithstanding he had just before accepted a retainer to defend Captain Preston and his soldiers for their share in what was known as the “Boston Massacre” — a defence conducted with success, in spite of the strong prejudices which it had to encounter. Adams's duties as representative interfered greatly with his business as a lawyer, on which he depended for support, and which by this time had grown to be greater than that of any other lawyer in the province. But he entered with his customary energy upon his new office, becoming the chief legal adviser of the patriot party, and now for the first time an active and conspicuous leader among them. Partly perhaps to escape this leadership, and the loss of time, the labor, and responsibilities which it imposed, as well as to regain his health, which began to suffer, Mr. Adams removed his residence back to Braintree, resigning his seat in the legislature, but still retaining his law office in Boston. A comparative lull in politics for two or three years made his presence in the legislature less indispensable, but still as to all the most important matters of controversy with Governor Hutchinson he was consulted and gave his aid. Indeed, it was not long before he again moved back to Boston, though still resolving to avoid politics and to devote himself to his profession. He wrote soon after a series of letters in a newspaper (republished in his collected works, vol. iii.) on the then mooted question of the independence of the judiciary, and the payment by the crown of the salaries of the judges. Soon afterward he was elected by the general court to the provincial council, but was negatived by Governor Hutchinson. The destruction of the tea and the Boston port bill, that followed, soon brought matters to a crisis. These events produced the congress of 1774. Mr. Adams was chosen one of the five delegates from Massachusetts, and his visit to Philadelphia on this business was the first occasion of his going beyond the limits of New England. In the discussions in the committee on the declaration of colonial rights, he took an active part in favor of resting those rights upon the law of nature as well as the law of England; and after the substance of the resolutions had been agreed upon, he was appointed to put them into shape. In his diary, published in the second volume of his collected works, and his contemporaneous letters written to his wife and published by his grandson, the most trustworthy and graphic descriptions are to be found of the members and doings of that famous but little known body. The session concluded, Mr. Adams left Philadelphia with no expectation, as he said at the time, of ever seeing it again. Immediately on his return to Massachusetts he was chosen by the town of Braintree a member of the provincial congress then in session. That congress had already appointed a committee of safety, vested with general executive powers; had seized the provincial revenues; had appointed general officers, collected military stores, and taken steps toward organizing an army of volunteer minutemen. Governor Gage had issued a proclamation denouncing these proceedings, but no attention was paid to it. Gage had no support except in the five or six regiments which formed the garrison of Boston, a few trembling officials, and a small minority of timid adherents; while the recommendations of the provincial congress had, by the common consent of the people, all the force of law. Shortly after the adjournment of this congress, Adams applied himself to answering through the newspapers a champion of the mother country's claim, who, under the nom de plume of “Massachusettensis,” had commenced a series of able and effective papers in a Boston journal, and to whom Adams replied under the signature of “Novanglus.” These essays appeared weekly during the winter of l774-'5, but were cut short by the battle of Lexington. An abridgment of them was published in Almon's “Remembrancer” for 1775, under the title of “A History of the Dispute with America,” and afterward in a separate pamphlet. They have also been twice reprinted entire in America, and are given in the 4th volume of Adams's collected works. Their value consists in the strong contemporaneous view which they present of the origin of the struggle between the colonies and the mother country, and of the policy of Bernard and Hutchinson as governors of Massachusetts, which did so much to bring that struggle on. Like all Mr. Adams's writings, they are distinguished by a bold tone of investigation, a resort to first principles, and a pointed style; but, like all his other writings, having been produced piecemeal and on the spur of the moment, they lack order, system, polish, and precision. In the midst of the excitement produced by the battle of Lexington — which at once brought up the spirit even of the most hesitating patriots to the fighting pitch, and which was speedily followed by the seizure of the fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and by other similar seizures in other colonies — Adams set out for Philadelphia to attend the continental congress of 1775, of which he had been appointed a member. This second congress, though made up for the most part of the same men, was a wholly different body from its predecessor. That was a mere consulting convention. The new congress speedily assumed, or rather had thrust upon it by the unanimous consent of the patriots, the exercise of a comprehensive authority, in which supreme executive, legislative, and in some cases judicial functions were united. In this busy scene the active and untiring Adams, one of whose distinguishing characteristics was his capacity and fondness for business, found ample employment, while his bold and pugnacious spirit was not a little excited by the hazards and dignity of the great game in which he had come to hold so deep a stake. Adams had made up his mind that any reconciliation with the mother country was hopeless. The majority of congress were not yet of that opinion. Under the lead of John Dickinson, though against the strenuous resistance of Adams and others, that body voted still another and final petition to the king. Adams succeeded, however, in joining with this vote one to put the colonies into a state of defence, though with protestations that the war on their part was defensive only, and without any intention to throw off their allegiance. Not long after, congress was brought up to the point of assuming the responsibility and control of the military operations which New England had commenced by laying siege to Boston, in which town Gage and his troops were shut up, and before which lay encamped an impromptu New England army of 15,000 men, drawn together immediately after the battle of Lexington. Urged by the New England delegates, congress agreed to assume the expense and control of this army. Adams, in his autobiography, claims the honor of having first proposed Washington for the chief command, a concession intended to secure the good will and firm coöperation of Virginia and the southern colonies. Those colonies urged Gen. Lee for the second place in the army, but Adams insisted on giving that to Artemas Ward, then commanding the New England army before Boston. He supported Lee, however, for the third place. Having assumed the direction of this army, provided for its reorganization, and issued bills of credit to support it, congress took a short recess. Adams, returning home, sat in the interval as a member of the Massachusetts council, which, treating the office of governor as vacant, had, under a clause of the provincial charter intended to meet such cases, assumed the executive authority. On returning to Philadelphia in September, Adams found himself in hot water. Two confidential letters of his, written during the previous session, had been intercepted by the British in crossing Hudson river, and had been published in the Boston papers. Not only did these letters evince a zeal for decisive measures which made the writer an object of suspicion to the more conservative of his fellow members of congress, but his reference in one of them to “the whims, the caprice, the vanity, the superstition, the irritability” of some of his colleagues, and in particular to John Dickinson as “a certain great fortune but piddling genius,” made him personal enemies who never forgave him. But though for the moment an object of distrust to some of his colleagues, this did not save him from hard work. “I am engaged in constant business,” so he wrote about this time, “from seven to ten in the morning in committee, from ten to four in congress, and from six to ten again in committee. Our assembly is scarcely numerous enough for the business; everybody is engaged all day in congress, and all the morning and evening in committees.” The committee which chiefly engaged Mr. Adams's attention at this time was one on fitting out cruisers, and on naval affairs generally. This committee laid the first foundation of an American navy, a body of rules and regulations for which — the basis of our existing naval code — was drawn up by Adams. Governor Wentworth having fled from New Hampshire, the people of that province applied to congress for advice as to the method of administration they should adopt. Adams seized the opportunity to urge the necessity of advising all the provinces to proceed at once to institute governments of their own. The news which soon arrived of the supercilious treatment of the petition of congress to the king added strength to his views, and the matter being referred to a committee on which Adams was placed, a report in partial conformity to his ideas was made and adopted. Having been offered the post of chief justice of Massachusetts, Adams toward the end of the year returned home to consult on that and other important subjects. He took his seat in the council, of which he had been chosen a member immediately on his arrival, and was consulted by Washington both as to sending Gen. Lee to New York, and as to the expedition against Canada. It was finally arranged that while Adams should accept the appointment of chief justice, he should still remain a delegate in congress, and till more quiet times should be excused from acting as judge. Under this arrangement he returned to Philadelphia early in 1776. He never took his seat as chief justice, but resigned that office the next year. — Advice similar to that to New Hampshire, on the subject of assuming government, as it was called, had been shortly after given upon similar applications to congress from South Carolina and Virginia. Adams was much consulted by members of the southern delegation (as being better versed than themselves in the subject of republicanism, both by study and experience, coming as he did from the most thoroughly republican section of the country) concerning the form of government which they should adopt. Of several letters which he wrote on this subject, one more elaborate than the others was printed, under the title of “ Thoughts on Government applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies.” This pamphlet, largely circulated in Virginia, as a preliminary to the adoption of a form of government by that State, was to a certain extent a rejoinder to that part of Paine's famous pamphlet of “Common Sense” which advocated government by a single assembly. It was also intended to controvert the aristocratic views, somewhat prevalent in Virginia, of those who advocated a governor and senate for life. Adams's system of policy embraced the adoption of self-government by each of the colonies, a confederation, and treaties with foreign powers. This system he continued to urge with zeal and increasing success, till finally, on May 13, he carried a resolution through congress, by which so much of his plan was indorsed by that body as related to the assumption of self-government by the several colonies. The first step thus taken, the others soon followed. A resolution that the United States “are and ought to be free and independent,” introduced by E. H. Lee, under instructions from the Virginia convention, was very warmly supported by Adams, and carried, seven states to six. Three committees, one on a declaration of independence, another on confederation, and a third on foreign relations, were shortly after appointed. Of the first and third of these committees Adams was a member. The declaration of independence was drawn up by Jefferson, but on Adams devolved the task of battling it through congress in a three days' debate, during which it underwent some curtailment. The plan of a treaty reported by the third committee, and adopted by congress, was drawn up by Adams. His views did not extend beyond merely commercial treaties. He was opposed to seeking any political connection with France, or any military or even naval assistance from her or any foreign power. On June 12 congress had established a board of war and ordnance, to consist of five members, with a secretary, clerk, &c. — in fact, a war department. As originally constituted, the members of this board were taken from congress, and John Adams was made its chairman or president. This position, which was one of great labor and responsibility, as the chief burden of the duties fell upon him, he continued to hold for the next eighteen months, with the exception of a necessary absence at the close of the year 1776, to recruit his health. The business of preparing articles of war for the government of the army was deputed to a committee composed of Adams and Jefferson; but Jefferson, according to Adams's account, threw upon him the whole burden, not only of drawing up the articles — which he borrowed mostly from those of Great Britain — but of arguing them through congress, which was no small task. Adams strongly opposed Lord Howe's invitation to a conference, sent to congress after the battle of Long Island, through his prisoner, Gen. Sullivan. He was, however, appointed one of the committee for that purpose, along with Franklin and Rutledge, and his autobiography contains some curious anecdotes of the visit. Besides his presidency of the board of war, Adams was also chairman of the committee upon which devolved the decision of appeals in admiralty cases from the state courts. Having thus occupied for nearly two years a position which gained him the reputation among at least a portion of his colleagues of having “the clearest head and firmest heart of any man in congress,” he was appointed near the end of the year 1777 a commissioner to France to supersede Deane, whom congress had determined to recall. He embarked at Boston, in the frigate Boston, on Feb. 12, 1778, reached Bordeaux after a stormy passage, and arrived on April 8 at Paris. Already before his arrival the alliance with France had been completed, and his stay was not long. He found that a very great antagonism of views and feeling had arisen between the three commissioners, Franklin, Deane, and Arthur Lee, of whom the embassy to France had been originally composed; and as the recall of Deane had not reconciled the other two, Adams advised, as the only means of giving unity and energy to the mission, that it should be intrusted to a single person. This suggestion was adopted, and in consequence of it, Franklin having been appointed sole ambassador in France, Adams returned home in the same French frigate which took out the new French minister, the chevalier de la Luzerne. He arrived at Boston just as a convention was about to meet to form a state constitution for Massachusetts; and being chosen a delegate from Braintree, he took a leading part in its formation. Before this convention had finished its business, he was appointed by congress minister to treat with Great Britain for peace and commerce, under which appointment he sailed again for France in 1779, in the same French frigate in which he had returned. Very contrary to his own inclinations, Mr. Adams was prevented by Vergennes, the French minister of foreign affairs, from making to Great Britain any communication of his powers. In fact, Vergennes and Adams already were and continued to be to each other objects of serious distrust, in both cases quite unfounded. Vergennes feared lest advances toward treating with England might lead to some sort of reconciliation with her short of the independence of the colonies, which was contrary to his ideas of the interest of France. The communications made to him by Gérard, the first French minister in America, and Adams's connection with the Lees, whom Vergennes suspected, though unjustly, of a secret communication through Arthur Lee with the British ministry, led him to regard Mr. Adams as the representative of a party in congress desirous of such a reconciliation; nor did he rest till he had obtained from congress, some two years after, the recall of Mr. Adams's powers to negotiate a treaty of commerce, and the conjunction with him of several colleagues to treat for peace, of whom Franklin, who enjoyed his entire confidence, was one. Adams, on the other hand, not entirely free from hereditary English prejudices against the French, vehemently suspected Vergennes of a design to sacrifice the interests of the United States, especially the fisheries and the western lands, to the advancement of the Spanish house of Bourbon. While lingering at Paris, with nothing to do except to nurse these suspicions, Adams busied himself in furnishing communications on American affairs to a semi-official gazette, the Mercure de France, conducted by M. Genet, chief secretary in the foreign bureau, and father of the French minister in America, who subsequently rendered that name so notorious. Finding his position at Paris not very comfortable, he proceeded to Holland in July, 1780, his object being to form an opinion as to the probability of borrowing money there. Just about the same time he was appointed by congress to negotiate a Dutch loan, Laurens, who had been selected for that purpose, being not yet ready to leave home. By way of enlightening the Dutch as to American affairs, Adams published in the “Gazette” of Leyden, and in a magazine called Politique hollandaise, a number of papers and extracts, including several which, through a friend, he procured to be first published in a London journal, to give to them an English character. To these he added a direct publication of his own, afterward many times reprinted, and to be found in the 7th volume of his collected works, under the title of “Twenty-six Letters upon Interesting Subjects, respecting the Revolution in America.” He had commenced negotiations for a loan, when his labors in that direction were interrupted by the sudden breach between England and Holland, consequent upon the capture of Laurens, and the discovery of the secret negotiation carried on between him and Van Berkel of Amsterdam, which, though it had been entered upon without authority from the Dutch states, the British made the pretence for a speedy declaration of war. Adams was soon after appointed minister to Holland in place of the captured Laurens, and at the same tune was commissioned to sign the articles of armed neutrality, which had just made their appearance on the political scene. Adams presented memorials to the Dutch government, setting forth his powers in both respects; but before he could procure any recognition, he was recalled in July, 1781, to Paris, by a notice that he was needed there in his character of minister, to treat of peace. Adams's suspicions of Vergennes had, meanwhile, been not a little increased by the neglect of France to second his applications to Holland. With Vergennes the great object was peace. The finances of France were sadly embarrassed. Vergennes wished no further complications to the war, and, provided the English colonies should be definitely separated from the mother country, which he considered indispensable to the interest of France, he was not disposed to insist on anything else. It was for this reason that he had urged upon congress, through the French minister at Philadelphia, and just about this time had succeeded in obtaining from congress — though the information had not yet reached Paris — not only the withdrawal of Adams's commission to treat of commerce, and the enlargement to five of the number of commissioners to treat of peace, but an absolute discretion intrusted to the negotiators as to everything except independence and the additional direction that in the last resort they were to be governed by Vergennes's advice. The cause of sending for Adams, who still occupied, so far as was known at Paris, the position of sole negotiator for peace, was the offer of a mediation on the part of Russia and the German empire. But this offer led to nothing. Great Britain haughtily rejected it on the ground that she would not allow France to stand between her and her colonies. — Returning to Holland, Mr. Adams, though still unsupported by Vergennes, pushed with great energy his reception as ambassador by the states general, which at length, April 19, 1782, he succeeded in accomplishing. Following up this success with his customary perseverance, ha succeeded before the end of the year in negotiating a Dutch loan of two millions of dollars, the first of a series which proved a chief financial resource of the continental congress in its later days. He also succeeded in negotiating a treaty of amity and commerce. His success in these negotiations, considering the obstacles he had to encounter, and the want of support from Vergennes, he was accustomed to regard as the greatest triumph of his life. — Before this business was completed, Mr. Adams received urgent calls to come to Paris, where Jay and Franklin, two of the new commissioners, were already treating for peace, and where he arrived Oct. 26. Though Mr. Jay had been put into the diplomatic service by the procurement of the party in congress in the French interest, his diplomatic experience in Spain had led him to entertain doubts also as to the sincere good will of Vergennes. A confidential despatch from M. Marbois, French secretary of legation in America, intercepted by the British, and which Oswald, the British negotiator at Paris, communicated to Franklin and Jay, with a view to make bad feeling between them and the French minister, had, along with other circumstances, induced Franklin and Jay to disregard their instructions, and to proceed to treat with Oswald without communicating that fact to Vergennes, or taking his advice as to the terms of the treaty — a procedure in which Adams, after his arrival, fully concurred. It was chiefly through his energy and persistence that the participation of America in the fisheries was secured by the treaty, not as a favor or privilege, but as a right — a matter of much greater importance then than now, the fisheries being at that time a more important branch than now of American maritime industry. — Immediately upon the signature of the preliminary articles of peace, Adams asked leave to resign all his commissions and to return home, to which congress responded by appointing him a commissioner jointly with Franklin and Jay to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain. His first visit to England was, however, in a private character, to recruit his health, after a violent fever with which he had been attacked, shortly after signing the treaty of peace. He spent some time first at London, and afterward at Bath; but while still an invalid he was recalled, in the dead of winter, to Holland, which he reached only after a very stormy and uncomfortable passage, there to negotiate a new loan, as the means of meeting government bills drawn in America, which were in danger of protest from want of funds — a business in which he succeeded, though not without paying a pretty high premium. Adams was included, along with Franklin and Jefferson, the latter sent out to take the place of Jay, in a new commission to form treaties with foreign powers; and his being joined by Mrs. Adams and their only daughter and youngest son, his other two sons being already with him, reconciled him to the idea of remaining abroad. With his family about him he fixed his residence at Auteuil, near Paris, where he had an interval of comparative leisure and enjoyment. The chief business of the new commission was the negotiation of a treaty with Prussia, advances toward which had first been been made to Adams while at the Hague, negotiating the Dutch loan. But before that treaty was ready for signature, Adams was appointed by congress minister to the court of St. James's, where he arrived in May, 1785. The English government, of which the feelings were well represented by those of the king, had neither the magnanimity nor the policy to treat the new American states with generosity, nor hardly with justice. Adams was received with civility, but no commercial arrangements could be made, and his chief employment was that of complaining of the non-execution of the treaty of peace, especially in relation to the non-surrender of the western posts, and in attempting to meet similar complaints urged not without strong grounds on the part of the British, more particularly as to the obstacles put in the way of the collection of British debts, which were made an excuse for the detention of the western posts. Made sensible in many ways of the aggravation of British feelings toward the new republic, whose condition immediately after the peace was somewhat embarrassing, and not so flattering as it might have been to the advocates and promoters of the revolution, the situation of Adams was rather mortifying than agreeable. Meanwhile he was obliged to pay a new visit to Holland to negotiate a new loan as a means of paying the interest on the Dutch debt. He was also engaged in a correspondence with his fellow commissioner, Mr. Jefferson, then at Paris, on the subject of a treaty with the Barbary powers and the return of the Americans held captive by them. But his most engrossing occupation at this time was the preparation of his “Defence of the American Constitutions,” of which the object was the justification of balanced governments and a division of powers, especially the legislative, against the idea of a single assembly and a pure democracy, which had begun to find many ardent advocates, especially on the continent. The greater part, however, of this book — the most voluminous of his publications — consists of summaries of the histories of the Italian republics, by no means essential to the argument, and rather an excrescence. Though it afterward subjected the author to charges of monarchical and anti-republican tendencies, this book was not without its influence on the adoption of the federal constitution, during the discussion upon which the first volume of it appeared. — Great Britain not having reciprocated the compliment by appointing a minister to the United States, and there being no prospect of his being able to accomplish any of the objects of his mission, Adams had solicited a recall, which was sent out to him in February, 1788, accompanied by a resolution of congress conveying the thanks of that body for “the patriotism, perseverance, integrity, and diligence” which he had displayed in his ten years' service abroad. Immediately on his arrival home, Mr. Adams was reappointed a delegate from Massachusetts to the continental congress; but he never resumed his seat in that body, which was now just about to expire. — When the new government came to be organized under the newly adopted federal constitution, as all were agreed to make Washington president, attention was turned to New England for a vice president. This office was then regarded as of much higher consequence than now. In fact, as the constitution originally stood, the candidates for the presidency and vice presidency were voted for without any distinct specification, the second office falling to the person who had the second highest vote. Out of 69 electors, John Adams had the votes of 34; and this being the second highest number, he was declared vice president. The other 35 votes were scattered upon no less than 10 candidates. By virtue of his new office he became president of the senate, a position not very agreeable to his active and leading temperament, better fitted for debate, but one in which the close division in the senate, resulting often in a tie between the supporters and the opponents of the new system, gave him many times a controlling voice. In the first congress he gave no fewer than 20 casting votes, always upon important organic laws, and always in support of Washington's policy. — Down to this period Adams had sympathized in political feeling and sentiment with Jefferson, with whom he had served both in the continental congress and abroad. On the question of the French revolution, which now burst upon the world, a difference of opinion arose between them. From the very beginning Adams, then almost alone, had augured no good from that movement. As the revolution went on and began to break out in excesses, others began to be of this opinion. Adams then gave public expression to some of his ideas on that subject in a series of “Discourses on Davila,” furnished to a Philadelphia newspaper and afterward collected into a volume. Taking the history of nations, particularly Davila's account of the French civil wars, and the general aspects of human society as his text, Adams pointed out as the great springs of human activity, at least in all that related to politics, the love of superiority, the desire of distinction, admiration, and applause; nor in his opinion could any government be permanent or secure which did not provide as well for the reasonable gratification as for the due restraint of this powerful passion. Repudiating that democracy pure and simple then coming into vogue, and of which Jefferson was the advocate, he insisted that a certain mixture of aristocracy and monarchy was necessary to that balance of interests and sentiments without which, as he maintained, free governments could not exist. This work, which reproduced more at length and in a more obnoxious form the fundamental ideas of his “Defence of the American Constitutions,” made Adams a great bugbear to the ultra-democratic supporters of the principles and policy of the French revolutionists; and at the second presidential election in 1792, they set up as a candidate against him George Clinton of New York. But Mr. Adams was reëlected by a decided vote. The wise policy of neutrality adopted by Washington received the hearty concurrence of Adams. While Jefferson left the cabinet to become in nominal retirement the leader of the opposition, Adams continued as vice president to give Washington's administration the benefit of his casting vote. It was only by this means that a neutrality act was carried through the senate, and that the progress was stopped of certain resolutions which had previously passed in the house of representatives, embodying restrictive measures against Great Britain, intended or at least calculated to counterwork the mission to England on which Mr. Jay had already been sent. — Washington being firmly resolved to retire at the close of his second presidential term, the question of the successorship now presented itself. Jefferson was the leader of the opposition, who called themselves republicans, the name democrat being yet in bad odor, and, though often imposed as a term of reproach, not yet voluntarily assumed except by a few more ultra partisans. Hamilton was the leader of the federal party, as the supporters of Washington's administration had christened themselves. But though Hamilton's zeal and energy had made him, even while like Jefferson in nominal retirement, the leader of the federalists, he could hardly be said to hold the same place with them that Jefferson did with the republicans, whose presidential candidate he was, a position among the federalists which belonged less to Hamilton than to Adams or Jay, whose greater age and longer public service placed them more conspicuously in the public eye. Hamilton, though he had always spoken of Adams as a man of unconquerable intrepidity and incorruptible integrity, and as such had already twice supported him for vice president, would yet have much preferred Jay. The position of Adams was, however, such as to render his election more probable than that of Jay, and to determine his selection as the candidate of the federalists. Jay, by his negotiation of the famous treaty which bore his name, had for the moment drawn down upon himself a strong feeling of hostility on the part of its numerous and bitter opponents. Adams stood, moreover, as vice president in the line of promotion, and was more sure of the New England vote, which was absolutely indispensable to the success of either. One of the candidates being taken from the North, it seemed politic to select the other from the South, and the federalist leaders pitched for that purpose upon Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina. Indeed, there were some, and Hamilton was among the number, who secretly wished that Pinckney might receive the larger vote, and so be chosen president over Adams's head — a result, from the likelihood of Pinckney's obtaining more votes than Adams at the South (as he really did), almost sure to happen could the northern federal electors be persuaded to vote equally for Adams and for Pinckney, which Hamilton labored to effect. The fear, however, that Pinckney might be chosen over Adams, led to the withholding from Pinckney of eighteen New England votes, so that the result was not only to make Jefferson vice president, as having more votes than Pinckney, but also to excite prejudices and suspicions in the mind of Adams against Hamilton, which, being reciprocated by him, led speedily to the disruption and final overthrow of the federal party. It had almost happened, such was the equal division of parties, that Jefferson had this time been chosen president, the election of Adams, who had 71 votes to Jefferson's 68, being only secured by two stray votes cast for him, one in Virginia and the other in North Carolina, tributes of revolutionary reminiscences and personal esteem. Chosen by this slender majority, Mr. Adams succeeded to office (March 4, 1797) at a very dangerous and exciting crisis of affairs. The progress of the French revolution had superinduced upon previous party divisions a new and very vehement one. Jefferson's supporters, who sympathized very warmly with the French republic, gave their moral if not their positive support to the claim set up by its rulers, but which Washington had refused to admit, that under the provisions of the French treaty of alliance the United States were bound to support France against Great Britain, at least in the defence of her West India possessions. The other party, the supporters of Adams, upheld the policy of neutrality adopted by Washington. At the same time that Washington had sent Jay to England to arrange, if possible, the pending difficulties with that country, wishing also to keep on good terms with the French republic, he had recalled Gouverneur Morris, who as minister to France had made himself obnoxious to the now predominant party there, and had appointed James Monroe in his place. Monroe, instead of conforming to his instructions and attempting to reconcile the French to Jay's mission, had given them assurances on the subject quite in contradiction with the treaty as made, both the formation and ratification of which Monroe had done his best to defeat. He had in consequence been recalled by Washington shortly before the close of his term of office, and C. C. Pinckney, a brother of Thomas Pinckney, had been appointed in his place. The French authorities, offended at this change and at the ratification of Jay's treaty in spite of their remonstrances, while they dismissed Monroe with great ovations, refused to receive the new ambassador sent in his place, at the same time issuing decrees and orders highly injurious to American commerce. Almost the first act of Mr. Adams as president was to call an extra session of congress to consider what should be done. Not only was a war with France greatly to be dreaded and deprecated on account of her great military and naval power, but still more so on account of the very formidable party which, among the ultra republicans, she could muster within the states themselves. Under these circumstances, the measure resolved upon by Adams and his cabinet was the appointment of a new and more solemn commission to France, composed of Pinckney and two colleagues, for which purpose the president selected John Marshall of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. But instead of receiving and openly treating with those commissioners, Talleyrand, lately an exile in America, but now secretary of foreign affairs to the French directory, entered into an intrigue with them through several unaccredited and unofficial agents, of which the object was to induce them to promise a round bribe to the directors and a large sum of money to the exhausted French treasury, by way of purchasing forbearance. As Pinckney and Marshall appeared less pliable than Gerry, Talleyrand finally obliged them to leave, after which he attempted, though still without success, to extract money or promises of it from Gerry alone. The publication of the despatches in which these discreditable intrigues were disclosed (an event on which Talleyrand had not calculated) produced a great excitement both in Europe and America. Talleyrand attempted to escape by disavowing his agents, and pretending that the American ministers had been imposed upon by adventurers. Gerry left France, and the violation of American commercial and maritime rights was pushed to new extremes. In America the effect of all this was greatly to strengthen for the moment the federal party. The grand jury of the federal circuit court for Pennsylvania set the example of an address to the president, applauding his manly stand for the rights and dignity of the nation. Philadelphia, which, under the lead of Mifflin, McKean, and others, had gone over to the opposition, was suddenly converted once more, as during Washington's first term, to the support of the federal government. That city was then the headquarters of the American newspaper press. All the hitherto neutral papers published there, as well as several others which had more or less decidedly leaned to the opposition, came out now in behalf of Adams. Besides an address from five thousand citizens, the young men got up a separate address of their own. This example was speedily imitated all over the country, and the spirited replies of the president, who was now in his element, served in their turn to blow up and sustain the blaze of patriotic indignation. These addresses, circulated everywhere in the newspapers, were collected at the time in a volume, and they reappear in Adams's works, of which they form a characteristic portion. A navy was set on foot, the old continental navy having become extinct, and an army was voted and partly levied, of which Washington accepted the chief command. Merchant ships were authorized to protect themselves. The treaty with France was declared to be at an end, and a quasi war with France ensued. It was not, however, the policy of France to drive the United States into the arms of Great Britain. Even before Gerry's departure Talleyrand had made some advances toward reconciliation, which were afterward renewed by communications opened with Vans Murray, the American minister to Holland. The effect of the French outrages and of the progress of the French revolution had been to create, in a part at least of the federal party, the desire for an absolute breach with France — a desire felt by Hamilton, and by three at least out of the four cabinet officers whom Adams had found and had kept in office. In his message to congress announcing the expulsion of Pinckney and Marshall, Adams had declared “that he would never send another minister to France without assurances that he would be received.” This was on the 21st of July, 1798. When, therefore, on the 18th of February following, without consulting his cabinet or giving them any intimation of his intentions, he sent into the senate the nomination of Vans Murray as minister to France, this act took the country by surprise, and hastened the downfall of the federal party. Some previous acts of Adams, such as the appointment of Gerry, which his cabinet officers had striven to prevent, and his disinclination to make Hamilton second in command of the army till forced into it by "Washington, had strengthened the distrust entertained of Adams by Hamilton and many of his friends; and Adams was now accused of seeking, in his attempt to reopen diplomatic intercourse with France, to reconcile his political opponents of the republican party, and to secure by unworthy and impolitic concessions his own reëlection as president. The opposition to Murray's nomination so far prevailed that Murray received two colleagues, Ellsworth of Connecticut and Davie of North Carolina; but the president would not authorize the departure of Ellsworth and Davie till he had received explicit assurances from Talleyrand that they would be duly received as ministers. On arriving in France they found the directory superseded and Napoleon Bonaparte first consul, with whom they managed to arrange the matters in dispute. But, however beneficial to the country, this mission proved very disastrous to Adams personally, and to the political party to which he belonged. He justified its appointment on the ground of assurances conveyed to him through a variety of channels that France desired peace, and he excused himself for not having consulted his cabinet by the fact that he knew what their opinion was without asking them — decidedly hostile, that is, to any such attempt as he had determined to make. The masses of the federalists, fully confident of Adams's patriotism, were well enough disposed to acquiesce in his judgment; but many of the leaders were implacable. The quarrel was further aggravated by Adams's dismissal at this time of his cabinet officers and the construction of a new cabinet. The pardon of Fries, convicted of treason for armed resistance in Pennsylvania to the levy of certain direct taxes, was also regarded by many at the time as a piece of misplaced lenity on the part of Adams, dictated, it was said, by a mean desire of popularity in a case in which severe example was needed. But Adams will hardly suffer with posterity from his unwillingness to be the first president to sign a death warrant for treason, especially as there was room for grave doubts whether the doings of this person amounted to treason as defined by the constitution of the United States. — In this divided condition of the federal party the presidential election came on. Adams was still too popular with the mass of the party to encourage any attempt to drop him altogether, and the malcontents were reduced to the old expedient of attempting by secret understanding and arrangement to reduce his vote in the electoral college below that of C. C. Pinckney, the other of the two candidates voted for by the federalists. The republicans, on the other hand, under the prospect of an arrangement with France, rapidly recovered from the blow inflicted upon them by the violence and mercenary rapacity lately charged upon their French friends, but which they now insisted was a charge without foundation. Taking advantage of the dissatisfaction at the heavy taxes necessarily imposed to meet the expenses of warlike preparations, and especially of the unpopularity of the alien law and the sedition law — two acts of congress to which the prospect of war had led — they pushed the canvass with great energy; while in Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr they had two leaders unsurpassed for skill in party tactics, and in Burr, at least, one little scrupulous as to the means which he employed. Not only was the whole blame of the alien and sedition acts, to which he had merely assented without ever having recommended them, laid on Adams's shoulders, but he was the object of most vehement and bitter attacks for having surrendered up, under one of the provisions of Jay's treaty, one Thomas Nash, an English sailor, charged with mutiny and murder. Having been recognized and arrested in Charleston, S. C., Nash had endeavored to save himself by assuming the name and character of Jonathan Robbins, an American citizen, in the light of which assumed character the greater part of Adams's political opponents insisted upon exclusively regarding him, and Adams himself as having basely yielded up an American citizen, who, it was argued, even if guilty of mutiny as charged, had been justified in it by the fact of having been, as it was alleged, previously pressed into the British naval service. Nor was it against his public acts alone, nor even to his political opponents, that these assaults upon Mr. Adams were confined. With strong feeling and busy imagination, loving both to talk and write, Adams had been betrayed into many confidences and into free expression of feelings, opinions, and even conjectures and suspicions — a weakness very unsuited to the character of a politician, and which he had frequent occasion to rue. During Washington's first term of office he had thus been led into a confidential correspondence with Tench Coxe, who held at that time the place of assistant secretary of the treasury, and had afterward been appointed supervisor of the internal revenue, but who since Adams's accession had been dismissed from this place on the charge of being a spy upon the treasury department in the service of the “Aurora,” the principal newspaper organ of the opposition, with which party Coxe sympathized, and since his recent dismissal from office had acted. In this state of mind Coxe betrayed a private confidential letter of Adams, which, after having been handed about in manuscript for some time, to the great damage of Adams with his own party, was finally printed in the “Aurora,” of which Coxe had become one of the principal contributors. The purport of this letter, written as long ago as May, 1792, was to give countenance to the favorite charge of the opposition that Washington's cabinet, and of course Adams's, which followed the same policy, was under British influence, and that Thomas Pinckney and his brother C. C. Pinckney, candidates with Adams on the federal presidential ticket, were especially obnoxious to this suspicion. The publication of this letter was followed up by a still more deadly blow in the shape of a pamphlet written and printed and signed by Hamilton, and probably intended by him for private distribution among the federal leaders, but which was made public by Aaron Burr, who had succeeded in possessing himself of some of the proof sheets. This pamphlet had its origin in the same charge against Hamilton of being under British influence, thrown out by Adams in private conversation, and as to which, when written to by Hamilton, he had refused to give any explanation, though when a similar request was made by C. C. Pinckney in consequence of the publication of the letter to Coxe, Adams fully exonerated both him and his brother in a published letter from any suspicion which his letter to Coxe might seem calculated to convey. Hamilton declared in the conclusion of his pamphlet, that as things then stood he did not recommend the withholding from Adams of a single vote. Yet it was the leading object of his pamphlet to show, without denying Adams's patriotism and integrity, or even his talents, that he had great and intrinsic defects of character which disqualified him for the place of chief magistrate, and the effect which he desired it to have must have been to give C. C. Pinckney the presidency, by causing a certain number of votes to be withheld from Adams. The result, however, of the election was to throw out both the federal candidates. Adams received 65 votes and Pinckney 64, while Jefferson and Burr had 73 each. In the ensuing struggle between Jefferson and Burr Adams took no part. — Immediately on the expiration of his term of office (1801) he left Washington, to which shortly before the seat of government had been removed, without even stopping to be present at the inauguration of Jefferson, against whom he felt a sense of personal wrong, probably thinking he had been deluded by false professions as to Jefferson's views on the presidential chair. This state of feeling on the part of Adams led to a strict non-intercourse for the next 13 years, though both were much given to letter-writing, and had previously, at least till within a short time before, been on terms of friendly correspondence. The only acknowledgment for his 25 years' services to the nation which Mr. Adams carried with him in this unwelcome and mortifying retirement, was the privilege which had been granted to Washington on his withdrawal from the presidency, and after his death to his widow, and bestowed likewise upon all subsequent ex-presidents and their widows, of receiving his letters free of postage for the remainder of his life. Fortunately for Adams, his thrifty habits and love of independence, sustained during his absence from home by the economical and managing talents of his wife, had enabled him to add to the savings from his profession before entering public life, savings from his salaries enough to make up a sufficient property to support him for the rest of his life in a style of decent propriety and solid comfort, in conformity to his ideas. Almost all his savings he had invested in the farming lands about him. In his vocabulary, property meant land. With all the rapid wealth then being acquired by trade and navigation, he had no confidence in the permanency of any property but land, views in which he was confirmed by the commercial revulsions of which he lived to be a witness. He was the possessor, partly by inheritance and partly by purchase, of his father's farm, including the house in which he was himself born; but he had transferred his own residence to a larger and handsomer dwelling near by, forfeited by one of the refugee tories of the revolution, and of which he had become the purchaser, where he spent the next quarter of a century. In this comfortable home, acquired by himself, he sought consolation for his troubled spirit in the cultivation of his lands, in books, and in the bosom of his family. Mrs. Adams, to her capacities as a housekeeper, steward, and farm manager, added a brightness and activity of mind and a range of reading, such as fully qualified her to sympathize with her husband in his public as well as his private career. She shared his taste for books, and, as his published letters to her are unsurpassed by any American letters ever yet printed, so hers to him as well as to others, from which a selection has also been published, show her, though with less of nature and more of formality than his letters exhibit, yet worthy of the admiration and respect as well as of the tenderness with which he always regarded her. To affections strong enough to respond to his, a sympathy equal to his highest aspirations, a proud feeling of superiority and an enjoyment of it equal to his own, she added what is not always found in such company, a flexibility sufficient to yield to his stronger will, without disturbance to her serenity or his, and without the least compromise of her own dignity or her husband's respect and deference for her. While she was not ignorant of the foibles of his character, and knew how to avail herself of them when a good purpose was to be served by it, yet her admiration of his abilities, her reliance upon his judgment, her confidence in his goodness, and her pride in his achievements, made her always ready to yield and to conform. His happiness and honor were always her leading object. This union was blessed with children well calculated to add to its happiness. Mr. Adams indeed had the misfortune to lose by death, just at the moment of his retirement from office, private grief being thus added to political disappointment, his second son, Charles. He had grown to manhood, had been married and had settled in New York with flattering prospects, but had died under painful circumstances, which his father speaks of in a contemporary letter as the deepest affliction of his life, leaving a wife and two infant children dependent on him. Col. Smith, an officer of the revolution, who had been Adams's secretary of legation at London, and who had married his only daughter, did not prove in all respects such a son-in-law as he could have wished. His pecuniary affairs becoming embarrassed, his father-in-law had provided for him by several public appointments, the last of which was that of surveyor of the port of New York, which position he was allowed to hold till 1807, when he was removed from it in consequence of his implication in Miranda's expedition. Nor did Thomas Boylston Adams, the third son, though a person of accomplishments and talents, fully answer the hopes of his parents. But all these disappointments were more than made good by the oldest son, John Quincy Adams, who subsequently to his recall from the diplomatic service abroad, into which Washington had introduced him, and in which his father (urged to it by a letter from Washington) had promoted him, was chosen one of the senators in congress from Massachusetts. — All consolations, domestic or otherwise, at Mr. Adams's command, were fully needed. Never did a statesman sink more suddenly, at a time too when his powers of action and inclination for it seemed wholly unimpaired, from a leading position to more absolute political insignificance. His grandson tells us that while the letters addressed to him in the year prior to March 1, 1801, may be counted by thousands, those of the next year scarcely number a hundred, while he wrote even fewer than he received. Nor was mere neglect the worst of it. He sank, loaded with the jibes, the sneers, the execrations even of both political parties into which the nation was divided. It is easy to see now that hardly any degree of union or skill on the part of the federalists, a minority from the beginning and only sustained from the first by the name of Washington and the talent and activity of the inferior leaders, could have prevented the ultimate triumph of the other party. But, as is usual with contemporaries, the disposition then was to explain everything by the skill or luck of individual movements, and a large portion of the most active leaders of the federal party were inclined to hold Adams personally answerable both for the breach in their ranks and for their subsequent overthrow. At the same time, the other party, identifying him with all the measures most obnoxious to them, especially the alien and sedition laws, long continued to use his name as a sort of synonyme for aristocracy, longing after monarchy, bigotry, tyranny, and oppression in general. Especially were they enraged at the passage by the last congress, just before the close of his and their term of office, of a new judiciary act, or rather at Adams's presuming to fill up with federalists the twenty-three' new judicial offices, besides attorneys, marshals, and clerks, created by this act. These nominations, stigmatized as “midnight appointments,” were assailed, as well as he who made them, by every term of party reproach; nor did the now triumphant republicans rest until, unable to reach these appointees in any other way, they had stripped them of their offices by repealing the act. Though Adams was far more of a speculative philosopher than any of his contemporaries in the field of American politics, except Jefferson, he was by no means philosopher enough to submit with patience to the obloquy with which he was now visited. In the agony of his heart he sat down to defend himself with his pen, at least before the tribunal of posterity. He had been in the habit of keeping, during intervals of his life, a diary or journal, large and very valuable extracts from which appear in the 2d and 3d volumes of his collected works. He now set himself to writing an “Autobiography” and a reply to Hamilton's pamphlet. But though he wrote with great facility and force, neither his eyes, which were weak, his hand, which trembled so as to make the mechanical labor of writing disagreeable, nor yet his habits or his temperament, were favorable to the labor of correction, condensation, and arrangement; and he presently abandoned both those works, though some selections from the “Autobiography” have been published by his grandson by way of filling gaps in his diary. Eight years later, when time had somewhat healed over these wounds, they broke out with new malignancy by reason of renewed attacks upon him by the federalists on account of his son John Quincy Adams having abandoned the federal party, and the disposition evinced by the father to sustain the policy of the administration, rather than that of the federalists, in the disputes which finally terminated in war with Great Britain. Hitherto the Jeffersonian or democratic party had possessed in Boston as its sole newspaper organ “The Chronicle,” a very violent paper, of which the staple in times past had been abuse of John Adams as an aristocrat and a monarchist, and the author of the alien and sedition laws. To represent and express the sentiments of a new cohort, which with the years 1806 and 1807 came in Massachusetts to the support of Jefferson, under the leadership of John Q. Adams, a new paper was established called the “Boston Patriot,” to which both John Q. Adams and his father became contributors. In the earliest numbers of this paper, John Adams printed (and it may be found in the 9th volume of his collected works) “The inadmissible Principles of the King of England's Proclamation of Oct. 16, 1807, considered,” being an examination and refutation of the English doctrine of impressment as applied to British subjects. Very soon, however, he dropped these topics of the day, and reverted to the past. The old charge having been anew brought up against him by some of the federalist papers, of personal motives in setting on foot the mission to France in 1799, he took up that subject in a series of letters to the “Patriot” — also printed in his collected works, vol. ix. — into which he incorporated much of the material collected for his answer to Hamilton. These letters are a valuable contribution to the history of that interesting period, and can hardly fail to be regarded as a complete vindication of Adams's policy and conduct on that occasion — at least if we allow that the immediate welfare of the nation was to be consulted, rather than any supposed prospective interest of any political party. From this beginning Mr. Adams went on to a history especially of his diplomatic career, into which he introduced many valuable documents in his possession. These publications, interrupted and again commenced from time to time, extended over a space of three years. A portion, embracing perhaps two thirds of the whole, was collected and published in pamphlets, which, bound together, made an octavo volume, entitled “Correspondence of the late President Adams, originally published in the Boston ‘Patriot’ in a series of letters.” Thus disjointed, and written, as parts of it evince, and as his published correspondence of this period more clearly shows, under great exasperation of feeling, and coming forth, too, at a period when the events of the day engrossed all thoughts, and during which the history of the revolution was less generally known and less a subject of public interest than at any time before or since, these letters failed to attract the public attention or to satisfy Mr. Adams's ideal of an historical vindication of himself. Seeing how, amid the ignorance and carelessness of the times, the true history of the revolution was in danger of total oblivion or of being transformed into a sort of legend, he abandoned his task with expressions to his private correspondents of contempt for history, and of utter despair of ever having justice done to him. But with the establishment of peace in Europe, and the apparent fulfilment, at least for the moment, of all Mr. Adams's prophecies as to the result of the French revolution, the bitter political obloquy of which he had been the mark — an obloquy directed against him from two opposite quarters at once — began sensibly to relax; and as those who had been contemporaries with his active life one after another dropped off, he himself began to fill, while yet alive, the position in general estimation of a hero of the past. After Mr. Jefferson's withdrawal from political life, through the agency of Dr. Rush, who had all along remained the personal friend of both, correspondence by letter was renewed between Adams and Jefferson and kept up for the remainder of their lives. About the same time also Adams opened a correspondence with McKean, his friend and coöperator in revolutionary times, but separated from him in the whirlpool of subsequent politics; and he thus drew out from McKean some valuable historical reminiscences. Mr. Adams indeed gave great attention to the subject of American history. His letters to Mr. Tudor (which led to the publication by that gentleman of the “Life of James Otis”) shed great light upon the early history of the revolution in Massachusetts. They contributed not a little to give the first impulse to that study of American history, revolutionary and colonial, which, commencing about that time, has rescued those subjects from the hands of rhetoricians and fabulists, and has produced so many valuable and authentic historical works. In his correspondence, which appears to have gradually increased and extended itself, Mr. Adams loved to recall and to reëxplain his theoretical ideas of government, on some points of which he pushed Jefferson rather hard, and which the result of the French revolution so far as then developed seemed to confirm. Another subject in which he continued to feel a great interest was that of theology. He had begun as an Arminian, and the more he had read and thought and the older he grew, the freer views he took. Though clinging with tenacity to the religious institutions of New England, it would seem from his correspondence that he had finally curtailed his theology to the ten commandments and the sermon on the mount. Of his views on this point he gave evidence in his last public act, to which we now approach. Mrs. Adams had died in 1818, but even that shock, severe as it was, did not unsettle the firm grasp of her husband on life, its enjoyments and its duties. When, in consequence of the erection of the district of Maine into a separate state, a convention was to meet in 1820 to revise the constitution of Massachusetts, in the framing of which Mr. Adams had taken so leading a part, though in his 86th year, he was chosen a delegate by his townsmen. Upon his first appearance, with a form yet erect, though tremulous with age, in this convention, which included almost everybody in the state of distinguished intelligence or reputation, Mr. Adams was received by the members standing, and with every demonstration of affection and regard; and a series of resolutions was forthwith offered and passed, containing an enumeration and warm acknowledgment of some of his principal public services, and calling upon him to preside. But this, while duly acknowledging the compliment, he declined on the score of his age and infirmities. The same cause also prevented his taking any very active part in the proceedings. Yet he labored to produce a modification of the third article of the bill of rights, on the subject of public worship and its support, an article which, when originally drawing the rest of that instrument, he had passed over to other hands. But the time had not yet come for such changes as he wished. The old puritan feeling was still in too great force to acknowledge the equal rights, political and religious, of others than Christians. Yet, however it might be with his colleagues or his fellow citizens, Mr. Adams in this movement expressed his own ideas. One of his latest letters, written in 1825 and addressed to Jefferson, is a remarkable protest against the blasphemy laws, so called, of Massachusetts and the rest of the Union, as being utterly inconsistent with the rights of free inquiry and private judgment. — It is in the letters of Mr. Adams, of which but a small part have yet been published, that his genius as a writer and thinker, and no less distinctly his character as a man, most clearly appear. Down even to the last year of his protracted life, his letters exhibit a wonderful degree of vitality, energy, acuteness, wit, playfulness, and command of language. As a writer of English, little as he ever troubled himself with revision and correction, and we may add as a speculative philosopher, he must be placed first among Americans of all the several generations to which he belonged, except only Franklin; and if Franklin excelled him in humor and geniality, he far surpassed Franklin in compass, wit, and vivacity. Indeed, it is only by the recent partial publication of his letters that his gifts in this respect are beginning to become known. The first collection of his private letters, published in his lifetime and much against his will, though not deficient in the characteristics above pointed out, yet, having been written under feelings of great aggravation and in a spirit of extreme bitterness toward his political opponents, was rather damaging to him. This publication was one of the incidents of his becoming for a third time, in his extreme age, an object of hostility, confined now, however, to a few of the more tenacious of his old federalist opponents, in consequence of the coalition of all parties in New England to support his son, J. Q. Adams, for the presidency. In the interval from 1804 to 1812, Mr. Cunningham, a maternal relative, had drawn him into a confidential correspondence, in which, still smarting under a sense of injury, he had expressed himself with perfect unreserve and entire freedom as to the chief events of his presidential administration and the character and motives of the parties concerned in them. By a gross breach of confidence, of which, like other impulsive and confiding persons, Mr. Adams had been often the victim, those letters were sold by Cunningham's heir in 1824, while the writer and many of the parties referred to were still alive, and were published as a part of the electioneering machinery against J. Q. Adams. They called out a violent retort from Col. Pickering, who had been secretary of state to Washington and Adams, till dismissed from office by the latter; but though Mr. Jefferson was also severely handled in them, they occasioned no new interruption to the friendly correspondence for some years reëstablished between him and Adams. Those two leading actors in American politics, at first so coöperative and afterward so hostile, again reunited in friendly intercourse, having outlived almost all their fellow actors, continued to descend hand in hand to the grave. Adams lived to see his son president and to receive Jefferson's congratulations upon it. By a remarkable coincidence, they both expired on the 50th anniversary of that declaration of independence in which they had both taken so active a part, Adams, however, being the survivor by a few hours. — Of Adams's personal appearance and domestic character in his old age, his grandson gives the following account: “In figure John Adams was not tall, scarcely exceeding middle height, but of a stout, well knit frame, denoting vigor and long life, yet as he grew old inclining more and more to corpulence. His head was large and round, with a wide forehead and expanded brows. His eye was mild and benignant, perhaps even humorous when he was free from emotion, but when excited it fully expressed the vehemence of the spirit that stirred within. His presence was grave and imposing on serious occasions, but not unbending. He delighted in social conversation, in which he was sometimes tempted to what he called rhodomontade. But he seldom fatigued those who heard him; for he mixed so much of natural vigor of fancy and illustration with the store of his acquired knowledge, as to keep alive their interest for a long time. His affections were warm, though not habitually demonstrated toward his relatives. His anger, when thoroughly aroused, was for a time extremely violent, but when it subsided it left no trace of malevolence behind. Nobody could see him intimately without admiring the simplicity and truth which shone in his actions, and standing in some awe of the power and energy of his will. It was in these moments that he impressed those around him with a sense of his greatness. Even the men employed on his farm were in the habit of citing instances, some of which have been remembered down to the present day. At times his vehemence would become so great as to make him overbearing and unjust. This was most apt to happen in cases of pretension and any kind of wrong-doing. Mr. Adams was very impatient of cant, or of opposition to any of his deeply established convictions. Neither was his indignation at all graduated to the character of the individuals who might happen to excite it. It had little respect of persons, and would hold an illiterate man or a raw boy to as heavy a responsibility for uttering a crude heresy as the strongest thinker or the most profound scholar.” The same writer makes the following remarks on his general character: “His nature was too susceptible to emotions of sympathy and kindness, for it tempted him to trust more than was prudent in the professions of some who proved unworthy of his confidence. Ambitious in one sense he certainly was, but it was not the mere aspiration for place or power. It was a desire to excel in the minds of men by the development of high qualities, the love, in short, of an honorable fame, that stirred him to exult in the rewards of popular favor. Yet this passion never tempted him to change a course of action or to suppress a serious conviction, to bend to a prevailing error or to disavow one odious truth.” This last assertion involves some controverted points of history; yet this at least must be granted, that it may be made with far more plausibility of Mr. Adams than of the greater portion of political men. The pecuniary independence which previous to his retirement Mr. Adams had secured by a judicious adaptation of his expenditures to his income, more fortunate than Mr. Jefferson, he maintained till the end of his life. Although he had a large family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren, dependent upon him, he yet died in the possession of a valuable landed estate. — See “Life and Works of John Adams,” by Charles Francis Adams (10 vols. 8vo, Boston, 1850-'56), and “Life of John Adams,” by J. Q. and C. F. Adams (2 vols. 8vo, 1871).