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John Adams
October 30, 1735 to July 4, 1826


John Adams was born on October 30, 1735 on a small farm in Massachusetts. His parents John and Susanna, although not educated themselves, sent their son to Harvard where he graduated in 1755. After graduating he taught school and then went on to study law. In 1758 John Adams was admitted to the Boston Bar. While still studying law, Adams became interested in the fast growing movement of rebellion against the unfair treatment of the colonies by England. In October of 1764 Adams married Abigail Quincy Smith. This was a very unsettled time for the colonies. The French-Indian War was over and England was in serious debt. To relieve some of this financial stress Parliament passed a series of Resolutions to raise funds in America. These resolutions became known as the Stamp Act. Unlike his cousin, Samuel Adams, John didn't react aggressively toward the new taxes. Although not in favor of the taxes levied against the colonies, he did not support the brutal riots lead by the Sons of Liberty. Instead he pushed for retaliation on the courtroom floor rather than in the streets of Boston. His peaceful approach was not shared by the resentful colonists and Adams found himself fearfully supporting the inevitable bread from England.

Adams became an important leader in the fight for liberty. From 1774 to 1778 he was a member of the Continental Congress. He was also appointed to the committee to write the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson did most of the writing but it was Adams who debated and challenged Congress to approve this Declaration. After leaving Congress in October of 1777, Adams authored the constitution for Massachusetts. Adams' role during the revolution was that of a peace mediator. He was one of the men who drew up the final peace treaty with England. He then served as the United States Ambassador to England.

In 1789, when George Washington was elected President, Adams was elected Vice President. Once he wrote his wife that his office of V. P. was "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." In 1797 Adams was elected President. The fledgling government was in turmoil. The Federalist Party, led by Alexander Hamilton, believed that government should by ruled by a small, powerful group of men. The Republican party believed that a system run by the mass of people would be best. Adams supported neither party but was elected by the Federalist.

During this time, France and England were at war. Adams did not want to involve the U.S. in this war and sent a delegation to France to mediate peace. France refused to talk unless the U.S. paid them a vast sum of money. Adams although anxious for peace was not going to pay France a bribe. Instead he commissioned the establishment of the First U.S. Navy. The U.S. was not directly involved in this war but many battles were fought between France and U.S. warships. Against the wishes of Hamilton and the Federalist Party, Adams sent another delegation in 1800 to talk peace with France. This time France was receptive and the war was soon over.

Adams left Washington in 1801 and returned home. He lived to see his son, John Quincy Adams, take the office in 1824 as the 6th President. On July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Adams died.