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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
It was John Adams, of Massachusetts Bay, who rose superior to home influences and advocated the election of Colonel Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Without this firm and unselfish action, it may be that John Hancock would have secured the place; General Washington might then have seen fit to defend Virginia rather than the Hudson and Schuylkill, and there would have been a different war, perhaps, with different results. When General Washington withdrew from public life he considered the Constitution and the Government safe in the hands of John Adams, and it may almost be said that the Massachusetts statesman was the first of the Presidents, as the Founder seemed of another order—self-elected and self-dismissed. He had made the Nation, and could have been its King, save that he thought the time for Kings had gone by, and the time for representative government had come. In this sense, therefore, John Adams was considered among the Fathers as the best man for the new and distinguished place. General Washington had done all he could to convey his own personal distinction to the office. His confidence in John Adams; his willingness to have John Adams as his Vice-President in the first years of the Constitution; these are things which must be said first of the subject of this notice.
He was through life of a highly critical disposition—a thoroughly censorious man. He, who gave little encouragement, was, on the other hand, nettled in all his nerves if the most generous encouragement were withheld. He even found fault with Dr. Franklin at Paris, and yet stirred up strife with Vergennes, the French Minister, in doing what he conceived would better the interests of the revolted colonies.
He had a strong, honest nature, resentful of injury, wrong, and oppression, yet not unmindful of its own faults. In his celebrated diary, begun as soon as he was at manhood's door, he resolves to conquer his "natural pride and self-conceit"; to expect no more deference from his fellows than he deserves; "to acquire meekness and humility"; he has been too ready with "ill-natured remarks upon the intellectuals, manners, practice, etc., of other people." "For the future never to say an ill-natured thing concerning ministers or the ministerial profession; never to say an envious thing concerning governors, judges, clerks, sheriffs, lawyers, or any other honorable or lucrative offices or officers; never to show my own importance or superiority by remarking the follies, vices, or inferiority of other people; to put the most favorable construction upon the weaknesses, bigotry, and errors of others, etc., and to labor more for an inoffensive and amiable than for a shining and invidious character." "Vanity, I am sensible, is my cardinal vice and cardinal folly."
Thus the young man, John Adams, who had been born at Braintree, Mass., twenty years before, on October 30, 1735, was in his way and after the manner of his nature as earnest in self-culture as George Washington. The competition and pressure around him were more noticeable ; he was to be self-made, showing the angles and harsh places that often abound in such characters. But he was of an order of men that we must admire and approve. It was because there was a group so large, of men so noble, that we are free, and this volume is made.
It was not unusual for a parent of those days to send his eldest son to college, and, if he left an estate, to divide it among the other children. Thus John Adams, being an elder son, went through Harvard University. The social distinctions by which pupils were marked in graduating, place the Adams family on record as having been comparatively humble. To all intents, we should regard John Adams as a self-made man. He graduated in 1755, and became master of a grammar school at Worcester. A little later, with the school on his hands, he began the study of law in (General) Putnam's office.
In October, 1758, the young man of twenty-three was ready to seek the learned Mr. Gridley, of Boston, "father" of that bar, who consented to recommend the student to the court, and the oath was administered. "I shook hands with the bar, and received their congratulations, and invited them over to Stone's to drink some punch, where the most of us resorted, and had a very cheerful chat." The old lawyer told young John Adams "to pursue the study of law rather than the gain of it; to pursue the gain of it enough to keep out of the briers, but to give (his) main attention to the study of it;" "not to marry early, for an early marriage would obstruct his improvement, and in the next place would involve him in expense." He practiced law assiduously, for small fees, among a litigious people, and in seventeen years was famous as an able and consequential advocate.
When he was twenty-nine, October 25, 1764, he married Abigail Smith, who became the immortal Abigall Adams, one of the noblest and most intelligent of women, the wife and the mother of a President of the United States. By this alliance the young attorney broadened his practice and his ambitions. It is difficult to point in history to a more intellectual or better-mated pair of people.
Three years before he had heard the fiery argument of James Otis against "writs of assistance," whereby customs officers might search houses for evidences of past smuggling. So vivid was the impression then made, that John Adams, in old age, wrote out the episode. He attended the town meeting, which was by this time a hot debating club, where he was easily first, held little offices, came to the notice of the English Governor, Bernard, and, on the explosion of the Stamp Act, with the riot at Boston, drew up resolutions instructing Braintree's delegate to the Assembly that were taken as a model by forty other towns.
The Stamp Act, and the refusal of the colonists to buy stamps, stopped legal processes, and Mr. Adams, on December 18, 1765, had not drawn a writ since November 1. Next day he was notified that he, with Mr. Grid-ley and James Otis, must represent Boston before the Governor and Council (Senate) in support of a memorial praying that the courts be opened. A less patriotic man might have felt that advancement at the bar lay on the side of the law and the Government; but John Adams did not waver. He spoke first, without adequate preparation, as he conceived, "on a question that was never made before, and he wished he could hope it never would be made again—that is, whether the courts of law should be open or not."
He, like Hutchinson, was a chronicler, and we shall often quote from his entries : "Christmas—At home, thinking, reading, searching, concerning taxation with-out consent." This is his question till the battle of Lexington grants a writ of removal to the tribunal of war : "Can a man be taxed without the consent of a majority of his fellows?" He refused small Government offices and perquisites, foreseeing trouble, and desiring to be free of gratitude. Early in 1768 he removed to Boston, taking up his residence in the "White House," in Brattle Square. Thus both General Washington and John Adams had a White House of their own before they went to Washington City. There Governor Bernard again tried to get John Adams to take office this time the important post of Advocate-General in the Court of Admiralty. But the lines were drawing closer, the "Sam Adams Regiments" had come, filling the town, and John Adams stood strong for liberty. He thought he feared somewhat, but he was strong. The troops were an eyesore; the populace was turbulent and dis-respectful, teaching the boys to act still more inhospitably, and the attack on the sentry, with the "Boston Massacre," described in the previous article, took place. The sentries fired, in the end killing five rioters or on-lookers, and Captain Preston and other soldiers were put on trial for murder. John Adams was instantly retained at the head of Captain Preston's counsel, and accepted without misgivings. In this way Hutchinson, now the Governor, silenced the best orator on the side of the town meeting (for Otis was becoming incapacitated by mental disease). The trial of Preston lasted six days, and he was acquitted. Two of the soldiers, after trial, were branded. The opponents of John Adams always taunted him with this service; Hutchinson hinted that there was a large fee. But the advocate received in all less than $too, and Preston never thanked his successful counsel. "It was one of the most gallant, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country," writes John Adams.
He stood so well before Boston in this delicate mat-ter that he was at once elected delegate to the Assembly, an honor, however, that looked like ruin. "In the evening I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my apprehensions. That excellent lady, who has always encouraged me, burst into a flood of tears, and said she was very sensible of all the danger to her and to our children, as well as to me, but she thought I had done as I ought; she was very willing to share in all that was to come, and to place her trust in Providence."
In 1771 he thought his health had completely failed him, and, becoming exceedingly despondent, moved his family back to the town of Braintree, but still practiced law in Boston. He was famous as a "Son of Liberty." At a tavern a fellow-traveler saddled and bridled John Adams' horse, holding the stirrup, and saying: "Mr. Adams, as a man of liberty I respect you; Cod bless you ! I'll stand by you while I live, and from hence to Cape Cod you won't find ten men amiss." In 1772 he had picked up so much practice that he moved back to Boston, bought a home, and resolved to attend strictly to the law and let town meeting alone. James Otis was insanely outspoken. John Adams, it seemed, would never learn military exercises—he had not the heart. "You never searched my heart," said John Adams. "Yes, I have," said the madman; "tired with one year's service, dancing from Boston to Braintree, and from Braintree to Boston; moping about the streets of this town as hypped as Father Flynt at ninety, and seemingly regardless of everything but to get money enough to carry you through this world !" Certainly nobody ever received sharper criticism than this from John Adams.
In June, 1774, while John Adams was presiding over town meeting at Faneuil Hall, Samuel Adams was locking the doors at Salem and getting delegates to Philadelphia appointed before the Governor could break in to prorogue the rebellious Assembly. John Adams was one of the five delegates so appointed. It again alarmed him. He walked alone, and thought. "We are not fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, in education, in travel, in fortune, in everything. Should this country submit, what infamy and ruin ! God forbid ! Death in any form is less terrible." He who went to Philadelphia, as he believed, without an idea, was one of the few who arrived there with ideas. The first Congress did little save indorse the Massachusetts policy of boycott, but John Adams was on the chief committees, and was an early target for the jealousy and envy of other debaters of less skill, industry, and native courage. The influence of the Virginia members was conservative, and much was done to keep them in line. The Philadelphians were determined to leave no stone unturned in the way of loyal petition to the sovereign in order to escape war. All the people who had come with Samuel Adams must keep in the background, save that Mr. Hancock was supposed to be a man with some property-stake at Boston. He alone would have weight in counseling war. The other colonies were getting their fighting blood up, but it came slow. John Adams did not have too much patience. Yet things improved. "I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave, pacific Quakers of Pennsylvania." Again he is bored to death with the slow debates. Here is a characteristic specimen of his skill as a fault-finder: "Young Ned Rut-ledge is a perfect bob-o-lincoln—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejune, inane, and peurile."
The people of Philadelphia gave him a new and higher idea of hospitality, but otherwise he thought Boston's folk outclassed them. He does not seem to have lacked any of the essential doctrine that Boston was the hub of the universe—its people handsomer, braver, purer, glibber, politer than those of other nations.
When Mr. Adams returned, he was summoned for consultation by the Provincial Assembly, and set to work newspaper writing. He was strongly inclined toward acting as the Thucydides of the coming Peloponnesian war, and when the Battle of Lexington occurred, he rode over the scene of action, in order to be able to start his history. aright—the history having been on his mind for years. In fact, he was keeping a history in his diary, which his son, John Quincy Adams, was to continue far into the next Century. When John Adams again started for Philadelphia the times were dark indeed. He was forced to leave wife and small children in a farmhouse near the seashore, exposed to a thou-sand dangers. But his leonine wife bade him go. At Philadelphia he now saw Colonel Washington in his fighting clothes, and his spirits rose correspondingly. "I have bought some military books," he wrote.
The Conciliationists were still strong; they singled him out as the champion of a republic, of the Presbyterians, as they called the Bostoneers. He, on his side, was determined that Congress should adopt the army at Boston, and should commission Washington as Commander-in-Chief. In this he was even ahead of Samuel Adams, who gave his consent without feeling the full value of the action. Upon the opening of a day's session of the Congress John Adams sprang the question, eulogized Colonel Washington, and compelled a vote. Congress was forced to show its colors, and when General Washington started for Boston to take command, John Adams wrote : "I, poor creature, worn out with scribbling for my bread and my liberty, low in spirits and weak in health, must leave others to wear the laurels which I have sown." Publicly he wrote to Massachusetts : "I hope the people of our province will treat the General with all that confidence and affection, that politeness and respect, which is due to one of the most important characters in the world. The liberties of America depend on him in a great degree."
The action of John Adams in pressing this matter on Congress, and carrying the day as he did, marks him at once as one of the great Fathers of the Republic. He seems to have taken up the thread of Samuel Adams' revolutionary career at the critical moment. He forced Congress to indorse the action of Massachusetts Bay, in the first place, and thereafter he pushed the other provinces as deeply into rebellion as were the Boston people. Nor had he secured the complete indorsement of the New Englanders. With an eye to events rather than to local desires, he strengthened the Revolutionary cause by setting up, over the original New England patriots, who now had their own army, led by their own officers, supported by local resources, a Commander-in-Chief from the distant province of Virgina, who had been the protégé of an English Lord (Fairfax). It seems to have gone beyond the statesmanship of Samuel Adams to risk so much, or sacrifice so much of Boston pride, but it comported well with the rugged bravery and singleness of purpose that seem to have resided in the Adams family. The plan succeeded and saved the country. In the end, John Adams thought General Washington did not keep the memory of the act keenly alive, but there he may have been mistaken. Other-wise, America beheld a career in the service of the United States that cannot be too highly extolled for its courage, industry, loyalty, and absolute rectitude. If John Adams retired to private life somewhat bitter and unsatisfied, it is possible he had just cause for his complaint.
That he had pressed the unwilling Quakers none too hard was soon seen when the British intercepted two of his private letters. Those epistles demonstrated the hopelessness, in his opinion, of peace with honor. But they were regarded with horror by the still loyal Philadelphians. "Dickinson cut him," says Morse; "many more treated him little better; he walked the streets a marked and unpopular man, shunned, distrusted, and disliked by many." He had gone faster than his astute cousin, Samuel Adams, would have gone, but he had, by one bold move, joined the provinces together and compelled weaklings and Tories to show their fears and put forth their colors. Meanwhile the patriot army had accepted its Commander-in-Chief with acclaim, and money could now be raised for his disbursal.
The news from Mr. Adams' home was disturbing. An epidemic raged, and the members of his family were all stricken; his brother and his wife's mother had died. He went home in the summer recess of 1775, and, while he was gone, the Conciliationists seemed to increase in number. The most prominent of these was John Jay, afterward a leading patriot. On his return to Philadelphia Mr. Adams set out with renewed vigor to increase the feeble flame of Revolution. "I am really engaged in constant business from 7 to io in the morning in committee, from Io to 4 in Congress, and from 6 to 10 again in committee." "I would cheerfully contribute my little property to obtain peace and liberty. But all these must go, and my life too, before I can surrender the right of my country to a free Constitution. I dare not consent to it. I should be the most miserable of mortals ever after, whatever honors or emoluments might surround me." "Zeal and fire, and activity and enterprise strike my imagination too much. I am obliged to be constantly on my guard, yet the heat within will burst forth at times."
We shall see that John Adams, in actual Revolutionary times, was always well supported, both by men and events. Few statesmen have been so clearly able to see the future. To increase his prestige in Congress, he had been appointed Chief Justice of the patriot State of Massachusetts, but in December, 1775, he considered it wise to go back, get in complete touch with the people, and, beside, learn what General Washington most needed from the other States. This was a satisfactory visit, for the Massachusetts delegates in Congress were bidden to urge Congress "to concert, direct, and order such further measures as shall to them appear best calculated for the establishment of right and liberty to the American colonies, upon a basis permanent and secure against the power and art of the British Administration."
As the Declaration of Independence began to be an assured future event, John Adams felt increasing awe. "In such great changes and commotions individuals are but atoms. It is scarcely worth while to consider what the consequences will be to us, but to future millions, and millions of millions." He was now unquestionably the leader, par excellence, of Congress. Samuel Adams was satisfied with obscurity, so long as independence were to come. Jefferson could not make a striking address; it does not seem that Patrick Henry cared to enter upon the trying labors, or displace so sound and good a man as John Adams. When it came to writing the Declaration, Jefferson and John Adams each civilly requested the other to make the draft; but it had been tacitly understood that the Virginian should have the honor. "I shall think that I have answered the end of my creation, and sing my nunc demittus, re-turn to my farm, ride circuits, plead law, or judge causes"; thus Mr. Adams wrote in joy, as he saw his long labors honorably crowned with success. In the debate on the Declaration, Jefferson declared that John Adams was a colossus. The matter as to number of votes necessary was determined as early as July 2, but the Conciliationists, headed by Dickinson, spoke till July 4. July 3, John Adams wrote to Abigail, his noble wife: "Yesterday the greatest question was decided which was ever debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor never will be, decided among men. The 2d day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great Anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated as the great day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means; and that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not." He wrote to Pat-rick Henry, another ardent lover of freedom: "The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by what name you please, sigh, groan, and fret, and sometimes stamp and foam and curse; but all in vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America."
John Adams was connected with ninety committees in Congress, but seems to have served as a sort of War Secretary through the hot summer of 1776. He was of stout build, and the Philadelphia weather nearly prostrated him, as he was unused to it. He was forced to rest at home in the winter, returning for another sum-mer of the same heavy work, united with the business of foreign relations, especially with France. When he left Philadelphia, November 11, 1777, in company with his kinsman, Samuel Adams, he expected another vacation. But December 3 he was notified to leave at once for France as Commissioner to supersede Deane, and to weight his dispatch bags, so that they could be sunk in the sea in case of capture by British cruisers. Dr. Franklin was already in Paris. Mr. Adams sailed on the frigate Boston in February, taking his son, John Quincy Adams (afterward President), with him. Seventeen days out, a British ship-of-war gave chase. Mr. Adams urged officers and crew to fight desperately, if over-hauled, "deeming it more eligible to be killed on board the Boston or sunk to the bottom in her than to be taken prisoner." He reached Bordeaux in safety. The people asked : "Is it the famous Adams?" desiring to see Samuel Adams, who was already beloved in France as a wonderful patriot. John Adams felt grateful, and be it understood, ever remained grateful, for the friend-ship of the French at a critical juncture. He urged an alliance with France. "Narrow and illiberal prejudices, peculiar to John Bull, have now no influence over me. I never was, however, much of John Bull. I was John Yankee, and such I shall live and die." His mission proved to be more one of inspection than otherwise; he found he was not needed, and came home, August 2, 1779. He then entered the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention.
In November he was again sent to Europe as a special Envoy, prepared to treat for peace, if England should make the proffer. He had a perilous passage, and the unseaworthy vessel which carried him made no better landing than the Spanish port of Ferrol. Thence to Paris he was compelled to make the journey in winter amid severe hardships, the worst that attended his career. The French Minister, De Vergennes, would have chosen an Envoy more docile to French wishes, and soon embroiled the outspoken and busy Bostonian in troubles that led to his disappointment. The boundaries of the United States on the land sides were matters of nearly as much importance as independence. Spain owned all the country west of the Mississipppi and Florida. Should we obtain Canada? Where was the boundary line west of the Great Lakes? Should Boston vessels be allowed to fish in northern waters? To John Adams these were all burning questions. Vergennes, although he could not overthrow Mr. Adams, obtained a Commission for Peace, with Franklin, Laurens, and Jay added. The posture of affairs was peculiar. The Americans were ordered by Congress to act under the guidance of Vergennes, and Vergennes at this moment stood ready to sacrifice American interests in preference to those of France. Yet Congress ever reposed perfect confidence in John Adams. If he complained, some-thing must be wrong, and Massachusetts was particularly nervous on account of her fisheries. To encourage him, he was made Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Provinces, and with famous audacity pushed the matter of recognition for America to a successful vote of the constituencies, thereby actually accomplishing what the Citizen Genet afterward threatened to do in America.
April 19, 1782, Mr. Adams was formally installed at The Hague as the Minister of a new people. Vergennes, from Paris, had secretly opposed this action, and Mr. Adams justly considered his work the greatest success of his life. "I have planted the American standard at The Hague. I shall look down upon the flagstaff with pleasure from the other world."
The situation at Paris, when Adams, Jay, and Frank-lin met to make peace with England, was trying to the special Envoy. Vergennes disliked him, and had secured the instructions from Congress which made France the actual guardian of American interests. Yet Jay and Adams outwitted him, and Franklin was so loyal to the majority idea that when Jay and Adams outvoted him, he did not reveal the American plans to Vergennes. In this way England secretly made a preliminary treaty with America, agreeing to better terms than Vergennes would have demanded, because he did not wish to magnify America, now that she was free. The English came to Mr. Adams with an oddly-worded commission. It authorized Oswald, its Commissioner, "to treat with any Commissioner or Commissioners, named or to be named by the thirteen colonies or plantations in North America, and any body or bodies, corporate or politic, or any assembly or assemblies, or description of men, or any person or persons whatsoever, a peace or truce with . the said colonies or plantations, or any part thereof." John Adams, to start with, made the English take all those words out, and substitute "United States of America." The preliminaries were signed January 21, 1783; the definitive treaties September 3 of the same year.
He was busy for nearly two years negotiating commercial treaties, and was seriously ill several times. At last he sent for his wife and daughter, and the family settled for the summer of 1784 at Auteruil, near Paris. February 24, 1785, Congress appointed him Minister to Great Britain, a mark of very high honor, which at the time probably placed him next to. General Washington in the notice of his countrymen. In the Gunther Collection at Chicago is an autograph letter of King George III to his Minister, suggesting that the forth-coming official interview, which must take place between Mr. Adams and the British monarch, be made as brief as possible, out of regard for the shattered royal feelings. But his Majesty could not hold to his resolution. He had heard that Mr. Adams outwitted Vergennes, and desired to manage that to some comfort for himself. "I must avow to your Majesty," said the Minister of the United States in reply, "that I have no attachment but to my own country." After this, the King always turned his back on the Minister, and all the Tory courtiers strove to outdo their royal master in barely hidden insults. Through this trying ordeal Mr. Adams presented a noble spectacle before posterity. He returned home in April, 1788, and was undoubtedly the most impartial American there was in viewing England and France. Both nations had misused him because he was uncompromisingly true tothe United States. It will be seen that he remained sufficiently grateful to France, and we may easily believe he desired to play no subservient part toward England.
He was at once chosen by the friends of the Constitution—the Federalists—as the proper nominee for Vice-President. Under the Constitution as it then was, each Elector cast two votes, for President and Vice-President (one vote must be for a candidate residing in another State). The candidate receiving the highest number of votes was to be President; the next highest, Vice-President; a tie vote would cast the election into the House of Representatives. It was deemed essential that General Washington should have no candidate tieing his vote, so the votes which would be for Vice-President were purposely scattered, cutting down the vote for Mr. Adams and placing him in the rearward of Gen-eral Washington as thirty-four is to sixty-nine, the latter being General Washington's unanimous vote. The systern was unwise, and was amended later, with no great addition of sagacity. It placed General Washington and John Adams unnecessarily in contrast, and was a needless trial of a nature not notable for its humility.
While the Vice-Presidency appeared to him to be "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived," it still be-came highly important in the time of John Adams. Hamilton now assumed full charge of the legislation of General Washington's administration. His measures met so much opposition that, on twenty occasions, the Vice-President, in a tie vote, cast the ballot which made Hamilton triumphant. This greatly pleased General Washington. Mr. Adams received 77 out of 127 votes for Vice-President at the second Presidential election, having won the cordial support of Hamilton. It was in the ensuing years that the great party question of fealty to France as an early friend arose, and the Federalist party began to fall before the steady advance of Thomas Jefferson.
At the third Presidential election, General Washing-ton having refused to serve longer, Mr. Adams was logically the candidate. Hamilton, jealous of Adams, strove to manipulate the electoral voting so that Adams would have a few less votes than Pinckney on the Federalist ticket. He succeeded only in defeating his friend Pinckney for Vice-President, for Mr. Adams was elected President, and Burr, on Jefferson's ticket, se-cured the Vice-Presidency. Jefferson wrote, rejoicing that Mr. Adams had not been "cheated out of his suc-cession by a trick worthy of the subtlety of his arch friend of New York." Mr. Adams thus entered upon a difficult task. If Hamilton could not direct the administration, he would be a dangerous opponent. The foreign question was a burning one. Jefferson extolled France and denounced England as eloquently as Samuel Adams had done at Boston years before; Hamilton ad-mired English methods, and abhorred the French Revolution. Mr. Adams was undoubtedly the only man who leaned in neither direction, save that he strongly desired to preserve the reputation of national gratitude for America toward France. Jefferson wrote: "I do not believe Mr. Adams wishes war with France, nor do I believe he will truckle to England as servilely as has been done."
France looked on the Federalists with hatred, and Hamilton returned that feeling by a desire to force Mr. Adams into war. The three Cabinet Ministers, Pickering, Wolcott, and McHenry, were popularly believed to be placemen of Hamilton; these Mr. Adams left in office, while he by no means meant to ask Hamilton to shape his policy. In the meantime, it was popularly supposed that the Federalists would declare war on France for countless indignities, practiced at the time of anarchy in Paris. The Alien and Sedition laws were passed, which gave the President power to banish from the country anyone whom he considered dangerous to the peace, or to fine or imprison such persons as should be supposed to be guilty of conspiring together to oppose any measure of the Government. These laws were abhorrent to Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Samuel Adams. They completed the ruin of the Hamiltonian regime, and, when they were repealed, they had not an apologist. While war with France seemed inevitable, General Washington was nominated Commander-in-Chief. He wanted Hamilton for his senior Major-General; the Sen-ate would only make Hamilton third in rank. The chasm between Mr. Adams and Mr. Hamilton widened, and the New York statesman was "shocked and grieved" when the President made it possible for France and the United States to negotiate once more. In pre-venting that parricidal war, John Adams took the side of Thomas Jefferson and stultified the Federal party, but, as had happened several times before, he rose above his own interests and singly sought the honor of his country. Nor was he insensible of the nobility of his course. In 1815 he wrote to James Lloyd : "I wish not to fatigue you with too long a letter at once, but, sir, I will defend my mission to France as long as I have an eye to direct my hand or a finger to hold my pen. They were the most disinterested and meritorious actions of my life. I reflect upon them with so much satisfaction that I desire no other inscription over my gravestone than : 'Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility of the peace with France in the year 1800.' "
And he was right. The immortal Patrick Henry wrote to the President at the time, in 1799: "Nothing short of an absolute necessity could induce me to with-hold my little aid from an administration whose ability, patriotism, and virtue deserve the gratitude and reverence of all their fellow-citizens."
During the last session of the Seventh Congress the Federalists of that body nominated John Adams and C. C. Pinckney; the Republicans, Jefferson and Burr. Notwithstanding the ill-concealed opposition of Hamilton, Mr. Adams received 65 to Jefferson's 73. But the Republican vote tied at 73 for both Jefferson and Burr, so the election was thrown into the House, Jefferson was elected, and the party of the common people was for the first time in control as a separate organization. Mr. Adams did not consider this very safe; therefore he filled every vacant office with Federalists, and appointed John Marshall Chief Justice. He nominated for vacant places up to the very last hour of his Presidential term, doubt-less desiring to intrench the Constitution for a considerable time, until the effects of the French Revolution had worn away.
He then retired (March, 1801) to his pleasant homestead by the roadside at Quincy, Mass. Abigail Adams, his wife, died October 28, 1818. He watched the rise of his son, John Quincy Adams, to the first office in the land. The old statesman did not fail to empty the vials of his wrath on both Alexander Hamilton and his political memory when he was no more. He was a Presidential Elector for James Monroe. He was nominated President of the Massachusetts-Maine Constitutional Convention when he was eighty-five years old. For years he sat on his front porch, an honored grandsire, in a region thickly settled with kinsmen, who looked upon him as the great freeman and patriot he was, and were cheered in their pious attentions by the approval of a growing nation. He became friendly with Jefferson, as the two immortal Fathers grew greatly old together. At sun-set on the 4th of July, 1826, after he had seen his country declared and truly free for fifty years, he whispered : "Thomas Jefferson still survives !" and gently passed away. Thomas Jefferson had died but a few hours be-fore, of the same day. Perhaps the tumultuous feelings of the anniversary, thronging their venerable memories alike, wrought mortally on each.
Thus died a Revolutionary Father who, from the day he joined with his kinsman, Samuel Adams, against the tyrannies of the English King, never allowed personal considerations to swerve him one hair's breadth from his first conception of the right course to pursue. He stood out in front himself, and he forced others to come out with him. He made Congress nominate Gen-eral Washington; he quickened Congress in order that General Washington's army should not melt away; he forced recognition from Holland; he made the English Ministry write down the words "United States of America"; he saved this country from a dismal and dishonorable war with the nation of Lafayette, Rochambeau, D'Estaing, and De Barras; he retired obediently to private life when the people determined that Thomas Jefferson represented them more certainly on minor Constitutional questions. His private fortune suffered through his public services, and he was separated for many years from those he loved at home. But, in return, he was so highly honored by his people that they placed him next to General Washington, and gave him precedence before Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence.