The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily represent those of the staff of CUIndependent.com nor any of its sponsors.
The information presented in this article was obtained from the books “John Adams” by David McCullough and “Founding Brothers” by Joseph Ellis.
President’s Day has come and passed again without much interest. It falls between the birthdays of two of our country’s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Their contributions to the nation are unparalleled, and they are considered by many to be the top two presidents in American history.
Washington and Lincoln, along with Thomas Jefferson, have memorials built in their honor to express gratitude for their contributions to the country.
Unfortunately, there seems to be one person that is ignored on a regular basis despite his impeccable revolutionary credentials and nearly unmatched public-service record. This man is John Adams, our second president.
Adams is probably the most underrated of all the Founding Fathers simply because his accomplishments were nearly unparalleled, and there seems to be inadequate acknowledgment of that fact. Without Adams, we would not even have a country. He was not only responsible for a significant portion of our legal foundation, but also the jumpstart to the careers of more than one important person in our country’s history.
Before the U.S. was even united, Adams embodied the ideals of the American spirit. He successfully defended the British troops accused of criminal activity in what came to be called the Boston Massacre, demonstrating his devotion to liberty and justice for all. The public was fervently in favor of the troops being punished, but Adams proved their innocence in a trial that no other lawyer was brave enough to consider. Adams knew that mob rule could never overcome the rule of law.
He had an expansive amount of foreign service that included the first American ambassadorship to Great Britain, the colonial power we had broken away from not five years earlier. He also managed to secure a financial loan from the Dutch government, which was absolutely critical; without it, it is likely the Revolutionary War would have had a very different ending.
The most glaring piece of evidence in favor of Adams’ importance, though, is his work in Congress before the Declaration of Independence. Adams was the most vocal proponent of independence and called for a committee to draft a declaration just in case the Continental Congress approved such a drastic step. Once in the committee, a young Virginian named Thomas Jefferson was encouraged by none other than John Adams to write the rough draft of the declaration. This seemingly minor step propelled Jefferson to the top of the American political ladder and set the stage for another brilliant career.
Adams was also instrumental in the choice of the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. His nomination was approved nearly unanimously, and the man chosen would go on to lead the ragtag American army to victory against the greatest military power the world had ever seen. He was none other than Washington, a young military commander who became arguably the most important American in history. Without Adams, Washington’s illustrious career might well have never even started.
The pinnacle of Adams’s stunning career was his election as the second president. His service in the highest office in the land can be adequately characterized as bipolar. The most glaring blemish on Adam’s entire career, the Alien and Sedition Acts, ended up being one of his most regretted moments. These were the antithesis of the First Amendment, making it illegal to speak ill of the government.
Adams regretted signing this bill into a law for the rest of his life, even after his eventual retirement. This bill has, unfortunately, tarnished his reputation perhaps beyond repair.
On the other hand, Adams was able to avoid a potentially catastrophic war with France so early in the country’s history. The Quasi-War, as it came to be known, was nearly all-out warfare with the new French Republic. Only Adams’ fierce dedication to the resumption of diplomacy with France and devotion to the construction of a navy as a deterrent for France kept the U.S. away from an official declaration of war. The magnitude of this accomplishment cannot be underestimated; John Adams preserved the unity of the country as well as its security by keeping the infant nation out of an assuredly costly war.
Yet despite everything he did for the nation, Adams is one of the most underrated men in our history. It is time to resurrect his reputation and realize, once and for all, that he is at the same level of influence as almost any other politician perhaps in the world.
To be clear, I am not advocating construction of a memorial dedicated to Adams in the midst of one of the worst economic states of the country since the Great Depression. I only ask that the people of this country acknowledge the importance of John Adams on the same level as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. His accomplishments call for it, and we owe it to one of the greatest Founding Fathers to honor his achievements.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Stephen Prager at Stephen.email@example.com.