The New Student's Reference Work/Adams, John

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Ad′ams, John, second President of the United States, was born at Braintree, Mass., Oct. 19, 1735. The father of John Adams was a farmer of small means, to which he added the occupation of shoemaking. He gave a classical education to his son John, who graduated at Harvard in 1755. In 1764 he married Abigail Smith, a daughter of the minister of Weymouth. He took part in the measures against the Stamp Act, and was prominent in all the steps which brought about the war of the Revolution. He was one of the five delegates from Massachusetts to the congress which met in Philadelphia in 1774, and also a member of the Continental Congress of 1775. Here, with Lee and Jefferson, he boldly advocated separation from the mother country. Of the three committees appointed, on the Declaration of Independence, on a confederation and on foreign relations, Adams was a member of the first and third. 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. The plan of a treaty reported by the third committee was drawn up by Adams. The preparation of articles of war for the government of the army was given to Adams and Jefferson, but Jefferson left the task to Adams, who drew up the articles and argued them through Congress. Thus occupied for nearly two years he gained the reputation “of having the clearest head and firmest heart of any man in Congress.” In 1777 he was appointed a commissioner to France; in 1779 he was appointed minister to treat with Great Britain for peace and commerce; and in 1782 he helped in settling the conditions of peace with England. In 1789 he was the first ambassador of the United States to Great Britain. When George III expressed his pleasure in receiving an ambassador who had no prejudices in favor of France, the enemy of the English Crown, Adams replied: “I have no prejudices but in favor of my native land.” On his return to the United States he was elected Vice-president, and in 1797, was made President. In 1801 his opponent, Jefferson, was elected by a majority of one in the electoral college. Adams died July 4, 1826, on the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of the United States. See Morse’s Life, in American Statesmen Series.