Notes: One of the most difficult essays for me to write since this summer. And what I have been working on for two months, practically every day. I don't expect it to be very good (but I learned SO much about John Adams, oh my - I will NEVER forget who the second President of the US is. Never.) and I don't expect much people to comment, but that's okay. I know there are faults to this, comment if you would like to make my day. :) God bless you all, each one of you! -Megan
P.S. This is my first try in HTML footnotes.
Early into John Adams’ childhood, he was described as “unusually sensitive to criticism but also quickly responsible to praise.” 1 When he grew older, and became the second President of United States, it was the same. Yet although his political decisions and character were much criticized, he clung to his convictions. And if you dig deeper into his life, you will find a man of strong conviction, sharp intelligence, sacrificial duty, and unwavering goals. For once he knew what he stood for, he defended and upheld his convictions—no matter the cost.
In the beginning of Adam’s career in which he was a lawyer, one of the cases he took revealed his spirit of integrity. On March 5, 1770, a crowd of Boston citizens began flinging snow balls, hunks of ice, jagged oyster shells, and heavy clubs at the British in mockery. Suddenly, the soldiers fired. By dawn, five men died. A fair trial was scheduled a few months away, in October. However, no one desired the British soldiers in court. Finally, John Adams was asked to defend the British. Although he knew that anyone prejudiced against him could hurt his family for his stance, his conscience did not permit him to do otherwise. He agreed. Not only did he make the right decision, he later said the case was one of the most exhaustive he ever took, but “one of the best services I ever rendered my country.” 2
Marrying his wife, Abigail, was the best decision of his life. Her advice directed, supported, and aided him. For fourteen years, he served in France as a diplomat, along with Benjamin Franklin. Those years were difficult. Franklin and Adams had conflicting opinions of the best way to obtain French support for the American Revolution. Also, the French customs were foreign to Adams, and his wife and children loved more than three thousand miles away. Still, Abigail wrote him letters. When he was disheartened, Abigail revived his spirits. Her letters updated him of the events occurring in Boston. She shared his daily trials raising their children, and her opinions on the current politics. She managed the farm, the expenses, and trained their five children. She kept him going through the most difficult times. And encouraged him to not let anything---not even others’ conflicting opinions discourage him from achieving his goal. He relied on her advice, even boasting to other members of the Congress of how her letters told more than if from a "whole committee of gentlemen". How blessed John was to have a wife that supported him! In one of his letters, in appreciation, he affirmed her, “I can do nothing without you.” 3
Even though Adams loved his family, duty still came first. He believed he was responsible in serving America in Europe. During his Presidency, the French started seizing America’s ships. John Adams commissioned his diplomats, trying to forge a peace treaty with France, but when the diplomats arrived, France demanded bribes instead. Word leaked out, and the Americans felt the snub and desired war. They began preparing the Navy, but John Adams did not yet ask Congress for the Declaration of War. Ultimately, John Adams was convinced that war with young, fragile America would be suicide. Because of his decisions, Adams became unpopular. The relationship with his Vice President Thomas Jefferson strained, and his own cabinet began to side with Jefferson. But nothing could sway Adam’s conviction. He humbled any pride he might have had and asked France for the second time for a peace treaty. By now, they feared America would declare war on them. So they accepted the treaty. What would have happened if John Adams did not persevere? He kept pursuing his goal, and although greatly criticized, he clung to his determination that America would not declare war. John Adams did not allow anything-- whether it was being unpopular, criticized, or hated, stop him from sticking to his convictions. And as a result, he kept America from an unnecessary war with France.
When we glimpse closely at Adam’s personality, we grasp his huge sacrifice to his country, his convictions to keep America out of war, and his supportive wife Abigail. This is what the public opinion missed when they critiqued his life. Adams was a man who let nothing dissolve his conviction. In the end, these three aspects of his life were his anchor that helped him stick to his beliefs. He said, “Thanks to God that He gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.” 4 Let us hope that, by the grace of God, once we discern what is right and what is wrong, we too would be able to take our stand, letting nothing crush the rock of our convictions.
1. John Adams, David McCullough pg. 33↩
2. John Adams, David McCullough pg. 68↩
3. John Adams by David McCullough pg. 479↩