Author: John Adams

A foremost figure of America’s quest for independence, John Adams (1735–1826) served America as its second president from 1797 to 1801 and also as the nation’s first vice president for two terms alongside George Washington. Born in Massachusetts, Adams studied law at Harvard College and upon admittance to the bar, focused his attention on constitutional law. He first plied his trade as a fierce opponent to the Stamp Act, drafting instructions to the Massachusetts legislature to oppose the act on the grounds that it amounted to taxation without representation. A principled legal advocate, Adams successfully argued on behalf of the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre trial. He represented Massachusetts at the First and Second Continental Congresses, and was instrumental in crafting and securing the passage of the Declaration of Independence. Adams served as one of America’s first diplomatic envoys in France, Holland and Britain from 1777 to 1788. He endured a bruising and fractious presidency, due in large part to his support of the Alien and Sedition Acts. Losing reelection to Thomas Jefferson, Adams retired to his home in Massachusetts. He died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Account of the Vote for Independence

John Adams

Voting on the Lee resolution, originally proposed on June 7, 1776, was postponed for three weeks, while delegates worked to build support for the measure and sought direction from their home legislatures. This personal account of the final deliberation and vote, written 29 years afterwards by John Adams (1735–1826), makes clear the human drama attending the decision and the role of specific persons in its success, including Adams’ own impassioned pleas for independence.

Letter to H. Niles

John Adams

In this letter to his friend H. Niles (dated February 1818), John Adams (1735–1826) seeks to explain the idea of the American Revolution and how it came about.

Letters to Abigail Adams, 1776

John Adams

These extracts from letters written to Abigail Adams from Philadelphia after the formal declaration of independence on July 2, 1776 reveal John Adams’ fresh reflections on the significance of what had just transpired. In the first letter, Adams expresses some concerns about what is to come.