Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Presidents: Mr. Adams

Having left the fertile fields of seminary, I have made it my ambition to read a book on every President in order to keep "the little gray cells" from falling dormant. My first subject to this end was David McCullough's John Adams. McCullough paints Adams in a very positive light and I found it easy to come to like the hearty New Englander.

[A painting of President John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd president of the United States, by Asher B. Durand (1767-1845)]

Five things you should know about John Adams:
1. While Jefferson was the pen behind the Declaration of Independence, Adams was the voice and juggernaut in the Continental Congress which drove the Declaration to be crafted
2. George Washington was nominated as the commander in chief of the colonial armies by Adams - a stroke of political genius as Washington was from the prominent state of Virginia
3. Adams was largely responsible for the bi-cameral government - Congress & House of Representatives
4. Adams was a great proponent of the Supreme Court - nominated John Marshal for Chief Justice
5. Politically Adams should probably be considered the father of the American Navy

Four Good Quotes:
Concerning study Adams cautioning J. Quincy Adams,
"The small of the midnight lamp is very unwholesome. Never defraud yourself of sleep, nor your walk. You need not now be in a hurry."
Concerning mystery,
"Admire and adore the Author of the telescopic universe, love and esteem the work, do all in your power to lesson ill, and increase good," he wrote in the margin of one of his books, "but never assume to comprehend."
Ever an optimist Adams (who was not popular in politics and buried several full grown children) wrote,
"Griefs upon griefs! Disappointments upon disappointments. what then? This is a gay, merry world notwithstanding."
Adam's fundamental creed,
"He who love the Workman and his work, and does what he can to preserve and improve it, shall be accepted of Him."
Three things worth emulating:
  • Adams was a prolific reader and writer - his correspondence with T. Jefferson was published as a book
  • Adams loved to walk and work outside on his farm - rose early to walk easily 3 miles a day
  • Adams did not cow to popular opinion -
    "Popularity was never my mistress, nor was I ever, or shall I ever be a popular man."
Note: Adams religious background was congregationalist turned Unitarian, see - religious views.