Pres. John Adams John Adams is important to the study of American history because he was the second president of the United States, he served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence and then helped persuade the Second Continental Congress to adopt the declaration. He is one of the great figures in American history because before the American Revolution he joined with other patriots in resisting British rule. So, when the revolution began, Adams was among the first to propose American independence. John Adams was born and raised in Braintree, Massachusetts, on the farmland his great-grandfather had cleared 100 years earlier.
He entered Harvard College when he was sixteen years old and after graduating in 1755, he continued to study law. In 1758 Adams began to practice law in Braintree. In 1764 Adams married Abigail Smith, and they had five children. One of them, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth president of the United States.
The marriage lasted 54 years, until the death of Abigail Adams in 1818. Adams spent the early part of his career practicing law in Braintree and developing his interest in government.He became well known throughout the colonies. When in Boston he was elected to the Massauchetts legislature while helping acquit the British troops in the Boston massacre.
He only served in the legislature for a few months. In May 1775, Adams set out for Philadelphia and the opening of the Second Continental Congress, the American Revolution had begun with the battles at Lexington and Concord. Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and other New England delegates arrived in Philadelphia ready to fight back against Britain.
They wanted the colonies to get ready for war and to set up a confederation of independent colonies.Many delegates hesitated and Adams became very impatient. After two weeks, when nothing had been accomplished, Adams could hold back no longer. He addressed Congress and told them that before talking of peace with Britain, Congress should adopt a program to set up an independent government in each colony. It should use the New England militiamen, who were then blockading the British in Boston, as the basis for a Continental Army, and should name a commander-in-chief who would be responsible to Congress. Finally, Adams said, Britain should be told of these steps.
Then, if the war continued, the colonies should seek alliances and support in France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Only one of Adams’s proposals was adopted. A Continental Army was authorized, and Colonel George Washington of Virginia was named commanding general. Adams had recommended Washington not only because he had military training, but also because he was from the South. Adams felt that, to form a national army, the South as well as the North should be represented in it. Therefore the New England troops had to have a Southern commander.In 1776 another of Adams proposals was enacted.
On May 6, he and his allies in Congress presented a resolution that all the colonies should form independent governments. The resolution, which to Adams was the most important of his proposals, was passed on May 15. In June 1776 Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, moved that Congress declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States. The resolution was referred to a committee consisting of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and John Adams.
Jefferson wrote the declaration and Adams was spokesman for it when it was presented to Congress.There was a great debate before the final vote. There were many unwilling delegates who still hoped for reconciliation with Britain, but Adams won most of them over. On July 4, 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. In 1796, Adams was elected president and was inaugurated at Federal Hall, Philadelphia, on March 4, 1797. Philadelphia was then the nation’s capital.
President Adams was immediately confronted with a number of issues. The most urgent was a threat of war with France. For four years the United States had remained neutral in the struggle between France and Britain.
Britain was seizing ships that traded with France including American ships. The United States negotiated Jay’s Treaty of 1794, which stopped Britain by giving trade concessions but started this threat because it angered the French who thought the United States was helping the British. Adams wasnt re-elected in 1800 and was stunned because Hamilton completely opposed Adams and campaigned for Pinckney.
Adams lost, but Jefferson and Burr tied with 73 electoral votes each.The tie-breaking vote was decided by the House of Representatives, which eventually elected Jefferson as president. Throughout Adams administration he had gone from crisis to crisis all centering on the French Revolution. The significance of what John Adams did made him important to the study of American history.
By becoming our second president, helping draft the Declaration of Independence and being on the Second Continental Congress that approved it, he was one of the founders of the United States as it is today. This makes John Adams an important figure in United States history.