John Adams’ Achievements

John Adams was one of America’s Founding Fathers. He was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the second president of the United States. Adams started his law practice in 1758, and in 1774, he started serving in the First Continental Congress as one of the representatives of the colonies. Since then, he started to gain respect and influence.

Upholding the Law in the Boston Massacre

John Adams took up the task of defending the British soldiers in what is now known as the Boston Massacre. This was not Adam’s first case, but this was the case that earned him the reputation as a fair and fearless lawyer in the colonies. British soldiers had been sent to the colonies to enforce peace and order, but instead, violence erupted. One night, a British soldier named Hugh White was being harassed by a group of boys who were pelting him with snowballs, stones, and clubs. Soon, White was joined by a captain named Thomas Preston and other soldiers, who tried to maintain peace. Suddenly, a club flew from the boys and hit a soldier in the head. This caused him to fall and fire his musket accidentally. In the confusion, the other soldiers thought they were ordered to fire, and so they all fired their muskets at the crowd, killing five people.

Adams believed that a fair trial was needed because he firmly believed that a person or persons should be presumed innocent. The lawyer, Robert Treat Paine, opposed John Adams, saying that the British soldiers should be hanged. Despite this, Adams successfully defended the soldiers. Six of them were acquitted, and two were found guilty of manslaughter but were penalized with light sentences.

As the “In-Between” among Federalists and Democratic-Republicans

Another of Adams’ distinct positions during his presidency was that he was at the critical juncture between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. The Democratic-Republicans were the commoners and included the farmers. They were the more egalitarian of the two opposing parties. They expressed their desire for a more decentralized government, a thorough analysis of the Constitution, and a harmonious partnership with France. Meanwhile, the Federalists were made up of rich and educated people. They wanted a good trade partnership with Britain, a more flexible interpretation of the Constitution, and a more forceful central government. As a lawyer who valued fairness above all else, he acted as the middle point between the two camps.

As one of the Igniters of the American Revolution

When Great Britain imposed the Stamp Act on the colonies in 1765, John Adams expressed his opposition. The tax was charged on basic items such as newspapers, playing cards, and pamphlets. According to Adams, the Act was passed without the colonies’ representation, and he sent a letter to the authorities containing his defiance. His letter led to riots and a boycott of British products. Two years later, Adams resisted another act called the Townshend Act. This act also imposed taxes on basic items, so Adams wrote his ideas to counter these acts and spoke in public. These actions by Adams eventually led to the American Revolution.

As a Member of the Continental Congress

Adams served as one of the more important members of the Continental Congress, which convened to represent the thirteen colonies. Adams represented Massachusetts, while the other members were Thomas Jefferson, Governor Morris, and Alexander Hamilton. Adams nominated George Washington to be the Commander of the Continental Congress. Although John Hancock was elected as president of the said congress, George Washington was chosen as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Adams felt that George Washington was the right man for the position because he saw in him an instinct to lead men. Adams’ reputation was enhanced because of his choice because Washington would later become the first president of the United States.

Adams’ Dynamic Role in the American Revolution

Along with five other important men of his time, Adams was chosen in 1776 as one of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence. With him were Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert R. Livingston. Being the best writer among his peers, Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft. Later, Adams and Franklin made changes to Jefferson’s draft. Aside from his contribution to drafting the Declaration of Independence, Adams also served as the head of the Board of War, wherein he pressured Congress to fulfill Washington’s calls.

Appointment of John Marshall as Chief Justice

Adams judged Washington as an excellent man to lead his fellow Americans, and he was proven right. Adams again exercised his ability to judge men when he appointed John Marshall as Chief Justice of the United States in 1801. Marshall went on to become a successful chief justice as he strengthened the framework of the American judiciary. During his term, the legal system established itself as an independent and credible branch of government. Marshall died in 1835, having served as chief justice for 34 years. His brilliant and fruitful career is one of Adams’ greatest accomplishments.

As a Great Political Author

Adams was one of the principal authors of the world’s oldest active codified Constitution — the Massachusetts Constitution. It was written in 1780 and helped develop the Constitution of the United States in 1787.

Another of Adams’ important works is A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America. He wrote this three-part work while serving as the ambassador in London. In this work, Adams studied the different kinds of government and the mechanisms of a republican government. Adams also wrote Discourses on Davila, which contains his thoughts on political philosophy. Adams also authored the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. In this book, he narrates his boyhood, his political and legal life, along with the events that led to the birth of the American nation.

Ending the Quasi-War

Adams successfully kept the United States from being entangled in the Quasi-War, which was a conflict fought between Great Britain and France. The United States took an impartial stance in this war, but American shipping suffered losses from French offensives. In an attempt to achieve a peaceful settlement, Adams sent a letter to France. France responded to Adams’ diplomatic action by demanding bribes. This led to a war between the United States and France. The United States proved to be the more powerful of the two nations, with its naval forces beating the French Navy. Adams again negotiated for peace, and this time, the French accepted it. His accomplishments in this war increased his reputation and influence as a foreign policy strategist.

As Ambassador to Great Britain and the Netherlands

Adams holds the distinction of being the first ambassador to Great Britain. As the United States ambassador to Great Britain, Adams was able to obtain loans for the government. He also served as the ambassador to the Netherlands, where he mingled with wealthy and prominent people. He became friends with politicians whom he felt could help his young nation in its first steps. The Netherlands was wealthy during this period and was considered the financial center of the world. Adams took advantage of this by signing a treaty that promoted good trade relations with the Netherlands. Adams also obtained a significant loan for the United States. In May 1782, Adams secured a loan of 5 million guilders from the banks named Wilhelm & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jan van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje. This financial support greatly helped the young nation to strengthen its newfound independence.

As the First Vice-President and the Second President of the United States

Adams became the United States’ first-ever vice-president when he served under George Washington, the first-ever president of the United States. He dutifully carried out his responsibilities in this capacity from 1789 to 1797. When George Washington completed his term and left the presidency, Adams and his fellow Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, battled for the presidency. Eventually, Adams defeated Jefferson and became the second president of the United States. From the highest post, he served his country from 1797 to 1801.

Modern political scientists and historians rank Adams as at least average to above-average among US presidents. However, among presidents who served only a single term, he is considered one of the finest. Some historians think of him as the most independent-minded among the Founding Fathers. Adams admitted that, as a president, he was an emotional one. He said that he sobbed and occasionally screamed. He added that he swore sometimes and that he admitted that he was ashamed of this. These things will not diminish the greatness of John Adams. His contemporaries always knew him as a man who did not hide his emotions, a man who was true to his character.