John Adams: Overlooked Hero of the Revolution

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• Part 2: President for a Term
Part 3: One Term and Out

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Part 1: Revolution in America

Born into a farm family, John Adams soon graduated to the law and moved to Boston, becoming the Massachusetts colony's leading attorney. In 1764, he married Abigail Smith, who was one of the most well-informed women of her time.

Along with his cousin Samuel, John Adams was with the Revolution from its infancy, beginning with his strong opposition to the Stamp Act, which taxed newspapers, legal papers, and other paper items. Ironically, he defended the British soldiers who fired into the crowd in the Boston Massacre. As a Massachusetts delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congresses, he argued against any decision short of independence. He spoke in favor of George Washington's being appointed Commander in Chief of the armed forces and later worked feverishly to bring about an alliance with France, which was realized after the victory at Saratoga in 1778.

Other wartime activities included his writing of the Massachusetts constitution, the basis for other states' statues, and the recognition by the Netherlands of an independent America, along with a loan of about $1,400,000. In 1785, he was named the first U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain.

Another part of these trying times were the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed by the Federalist majority in Congress. The former gave the president power to banish or imprison foreigners by a simple order; the latter made it a crime to criticize the government. Although Adams never invoked the Alien Acts, he did have several Jefferson sympathizers arrested on grounds of sedition.

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