This month, as we take part of the iHomeschool Network October birthday celebration, we will take a look at the life of John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States.
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A Brief History
John Adams was born on October 30th, 1735 in his family’s farm in Quincy, Massachusetts. He was named after his father, a farmer who was also a deacon in the church. John’s education was very important to his father, it was his dream to see his son graduated from Harvard. He taught his son to read at a very young age, and enlisted him into various schools to prepare him for Harvard.
He was accepted into Harvard University at the age of 15. Upon graduation, he took a job as a teacher to earn money to pay for his law education. From 1756 to 1758 he studied law under a prominent lawyer despite his fathers wish for him to go into ministry.
In the 1770s, he became a delegate to the Continental Congress. In the 1780s, he served as a diplomat in Europe. He became a leader of the American Revolution, and served as the first vice-president of the United States, and later succeeded George Washington, as the second president.
In 1774, he served on the First Continental Congress and helped draft Declaration of Independence.
The Stamp Act and The Incident on King Street
Adams was known for his bluntness, stubbornness, and his inability to keep quiet among other things. Two events that clearly represented these characteristics were the his involvement in the Stamp Act and the Incident on King Street.
Adams was openly opposed to the Stamp Act. This was the first internal tax levied on the American Colonists, by the English Parliament. It imposed a tax duty on newspapers, magazines, playing cards, as well as legal and commercial documents. It required that many printed materials be produced on stamped paper produced in London. Adams wrote and essay titled “A Dissertation on Cannon and Feudal Law” which inspired the discussion of British Law and their effect on certain American liberties and freedom.
Adams also defended British soldiers who were on trial for killing five colonists at the Incident on King Street on March 5th 1770. This event later became known as the Boston Massacre. Adams strongly believed every man deserved a fair trial despite the accusations of the people. During the trial Adams presented evidence that the soldiers had reacted in response to the mob that had gathered and that not only the soldiers were to blame. Eventually six of the eight soldiers were set free.
Some Interesting Facts
- Although he was the 2nd President of the United States, he was the first vice-president, first lawyer-president, first president to live in the White House, and the first president to be the father of a future president.
- He and his wife Abigail of 53 years exchanged over 1,100 letters between 1762 and 1801. The Massachusetts Historical Society has and extensive electronic collection of the actual letters. You can see them here.
- He won the presidency over Thomas Jefferson by only 3 votes.
- During his presidency, his independent mind led to political isolation. Unwilling to compromise he faced opposition from his own cabinet.
- He died at the age of 90, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of independence. This was the same day Thomas Jefferson, his rival died.
Adams had very strong views on education, politics and religion. Below are some quotes that could be the start of good discussions:
“There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”
“Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
“To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”
“Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.”
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.”
For Further Exploration
Books & DVD’s
Because Adams was a man of long opinions and independent thought, he became known as “The Atlas of Independence”. What do you want to be known for?
If you enjoyed this unit study, and would like to explore other famous birthdays in history, click on the image below.
For more September birthday celebration posts, click on the image below.