John Adams
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2006

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A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as the keenest dispositions discovered in the heart of man.

Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.
(Mercury in Scorpio opposition Saturn)

Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion... in private self-defense.
(Mars in Libra)

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
(Saturn in Taurus. Venus in Scorpio.)

Fear is the foundation of most governments.

Genius is sorrow's child.

Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.

If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?

Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power.
(North Node in Libra)

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak.
(Scorpio Sun)

Power always thinks... that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws.
(Pluto in Libra opposition Moon)

Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty.
(Sun in 2nd house)

The Declaration of Independence I always considered as a theatrical show. Jefferson ran away with all the stage effect of that... and all the glory of it.

The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries.
(Mars in Libra)

The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.

The right of a nation to kill a tyrant in case of necessity can no more be doubted than to hang a robber, or kill a flea.
(Pluto in Libra)

There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.

While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill - little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
ATTRIBUTION: , letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776.—Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, vol. 2, p. 30 (1963).

Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that those United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.
ATTRIBUTION: Letter to Mrs. Adams, July 3, 1776.

You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other.
ATTRIBUTION: (1735–1826), U.S. statesman, president. Letter, July 15, 1813, to Thomas Jefferson. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, vol. 2, ed. L.J. Cappon (1959).

I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.
(Neptune on MC)

The happiness of society is the end of government.

The purpose of government to secure, among other rights, the pursuit of happiness, is one of the “self-evident truths” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. See Jefferson on independence.

This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.

Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Grief drives men into habits of serious reflection, sharpens the understanding, and softens the heart.

That the desires of the majority of the people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority, is demonstrated by every page of the history of the whole world.
(Sun in Scorpio)

Happiness, whether in despotism or democracy, whether in slavery or liberty, can never be found without virtue.

Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.

There is no such thing as human wisdom; all is the providence of God.

The way to secure liberty is to place it in the people's hands, that is, to give them the power at all times to defend it in the legislature and in the courts of justice.

Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion... in private self-defense.

In politics the middle way is none at all.

The Pythagorean, as well as the Platonic philosophers, probably concurred in the fabrication of the Christian Trinity

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.

The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.

I cannot conceive such a Being could make such a Species as the human, merely to live and die on this earth.

The universal object and idol of men of letters is reputation.

A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed, praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows is one of the earliest as well as the keenest dispositions discovered in the heart of man.

Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.

I am persuaded there is among the mass of our people a fund of wisdom, integrity, and humanity which will preserve their happiness in a tolerable measure.

Politics are the divine science, after all.

Popularity, next to virtue and wisdom, ought to be aimed at; for it is the dictate of wisdom, and is necessary to the practice of virtue inmost.

Education makes a greater difference between man and man than nature has made between man and brute.

America is destined to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs.

Did you ever see a portrait of a great man without perceiving strong traits of pain and anxiety?

You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.

When I was young, and addicted to reading, I had heard about dancing on the points of metaphysical needles; but, by mixing in the world, I found the points of political needles finer and sharper than the metaphysical ones.

Always stand on principle even if you stand alone.


John Adams was born October 30, 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts He Died July 4, 1826, in Quincy, Massachusetts

He was the 2nd President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1797 – March 3, 1801. He was the first Vice President under Abraham Lincoln. Adams' Vice President was Thomas Jefferson who succeeded him in the office. He was a major sponsor of the American Revolutionary War and a key diplomat in the 1770s. He was one of the Founding Fathers

Historian Robert Rutland concludes, "Madison was the great intellectual ... Jefferson the ... unquenchable idealist, and Franklin the most charming and versatile genius... but Adams is the most captivating founding father on most counts." [Ellis p 230].

Learned and thoughtful, John Adams was more remarkable as a political philosopher than as a politician. "People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity,"

John Adams was the oldest of three brothers. His father was a farmer, John (1690-1761), a fourth-generation descendant of Henry Adams, who emigrated from England, to Massachusetts Bay Colony in about 1636. His parents had been honored members of the community and his father was influential in town business, and his mother, Susanna Boylston Adams, was devoted to family and church.

In spite of an inclination to farming, Adams' schooling prepared him for a career in the ministry. He had special tutoring in Latin from a local scholar, and John passed his entrance examinations for Harvard College in 1751. These four years of absorbing study excited his imagination. "I was a mighty metaphysician, at least I thought myself such"; he was considered a scientist, debater, and orator, as well. As he examined career possibilities, the ministry appeared less interesting than law, medicine, and public service. He had an early habit of writing descriptions of events and impressions, which provides a wealth of insight into his personality and the early history of the USA.

At graduation in 1755, he accepted a teaching position in Worcester. The career of a schoolmaster was unsatisfying, and Adams referred to his pupils as "little runtlings" who barely knew their ABC's. His students noted he was preoccupied with other matters, too. However, his position enabled him to meet the intellectuals of Worcester and Adams finally decided on a law career. He was intense and wanted to be more than a country lawyer, so he returned in 1758 to Braintree, where family connections helped with introductions to the Boston bar.

On his travels he would visit Abigail Smith, daughter of a congregational minister. John and Abigail were married on Oct. 25, 1764, and he loved her deeply throughout their long marriage. Their children were Abigail Amelia (1765-1813); future president John Quincy (1767-1848); Susanna Boylston (1768-70); Charles (1770-1800); Thomas Boylston (1772-1832); and Elizabeth, stillborn (1777).

Adams was a Unitarian who rejected Calvinism and predestination. He expressed his religious views in a 1813 letter to Thomas Jefferson: The Love of God and His creation, delight, joy, triumph, exultation, in my own existence…are my religion” .

In Boston he became well acquainted with James Otis, Jr., and his distant cousin Samuel Adams, and founded a club called the "Sodalitas", a group of lawyers who engaged in scholarly discussions and law debates. Out of these meetings came Adams' anonymous articles, August 1765, in which he traced the origin and rise of freedom. The rights of Englishmen, he wrote, were derived from God, not from king or Parliament, and would be secured by the study of history, law, and tradition. He argued that opposition of the colonies to the Stamp Act was part of a never-ending struggle between individualism and corporate authority. In December 1765 he delivered a speech in which he pronounced the Stamp Act invalid as Massachusetts was without representation in Parliament, had not assented.

Adams rose to influence due to these ideas. He additionally created the basis for a model for other towns in instructing their representatives. Adams didn't enjoy the most popular leadership, but his influence emerged from his work on constitutional law. His impetuous, intense and often vehement and contentious actions handicapped his political career, and these over-zealous qualities were particularly manifest during his term as president.

In 1768 Adams moved to Boston. Though Adams was always ready to speak out for liberty, he maintained his political independence and offered his talents to anyone in trouble. After the Boston Massacre in 1770, several British soldiers were charged with the murder of four colonists. Adams joined Josiah Quincy II in defending them. For taking the case Adams was sharply rebuked in the patriot newspapers, yet he was privately congratulated on winning this case for liberty.

In 1771 he decided to leave public life, but after 16 months of semiretirement, traveling and bathing in mineral springs and partly in farming, he returned to Boston.

The radicals were happy to have Adams available for consultation and as a writer for the newspapers and they elected him to the Governor's Council in May 1773, only to have him ejected by the governor for his partisanism. He was, indeed, involved in patriotic maneuvers, and he rejoiced when Bostonians dumped the hated tea into the harbor in the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Britain's retaliation drew him into full partnership with the radicals, and he became a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774.

In June 1775, in efforts to promote the union of the colonies, he nominated George Washington as commander-in-chief of the army. His influence in Congress was great, and he sought permanent separation from Great Britain.

On October 5, 1775, Congress created the first committee to study naval matters, which Adams championed. His work in the establishment and strengthening of an American Navy has earned him a title of father of the United States Navy.

On June 7, 1776, Adams seconded a resolution that "these colonies are, and of a right ought to be, free and independent states," and urged adoption of these resolutions, which occurred on July 2, 1776.

He was appointed on a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and others. While that document was largely drafted by Jefferson, John Adams occupied the foremost place in the debate on its adoption. Many years later Jefferson hailed Adams as, "The Colossus of that Congress--the great pillar of support to the Declaration of Independence, and its ablest advocate and champion on the floor of the House."

John Adams negotiated a treaty of peace and of commerce with Great Britain and was sent to Europe in September 1779. The French government wanted Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay and Henry Laurens to cooperate with Adams. Jefferson did not participate, but Jay, Adams and Franklin played the major part in the negotiations, and Jay and Adams overruled Franklin’s vote, dealing directly with the British and ignoring the French ministers.  

With the aid of a Dutch patriot, Adams secured recognition of the United States as an independent government at The Hague on April 19, 1782. Adams held several ambassadorial posts; including minister to The Netherlands from 1781 to 1788.

As president of the Senate, Adams cast many tie-breaking votes, some of which protected the president's sole authority over the removal of appointees, and influenced the location of the national capital. He frequently lectured the Senate on procedural and policy matters and his political views and active role made him a target for critics

Washington did not seek another term and Adams was the "heir apparent". During the presidential campaign of 1796, Jefferson secretly tried to substitute Thomas Pinckney for Adams and thus divided the party. As a result, the election was extremely close: Adams won the presidency by three electoral votes (71-68) over the Republican Jefferson, who, under the electoral system then in use, became the vice president.

Adams entered office on March 4, 1797. Fully aware of his slender victory, he sought political harmony. His inaugural address, tracing the progress of the nation, declared his faith in republicanism and called upon the people to end partisan politics. He tried to reach an accord with Jefferson, conciliate the Hamiltonians, and steer a peaceful course through the controversy with France over Jay's Treaty. But he encountered supreme difficulties.

Adams discovered that even the presidency was being reduced to the level of human passions and party objectives. According to his philosophy, the position should seek the man, and knowledge as well as virtue should qualify the man, without regard to partisanship. Unlike Washington, Adams had rivals for the presidency, and he should have been more flexible. Instead, he permitted Alexander Hamilton to assume leadership of the Federalist party, while he tried to remove himself from partisan politics by associating even with his party's critics.

His four years as president (1797–1801) were marked by intense disputes over foreign policy. Britain and France were at war; Adams and the Federalists favored Britain, while Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans favored France. The Nation experienced great opposition to the French, which was increased by the intensity of Adams's exhortations. He enjoyed popularity at appearances during this time.

An undeclared naval war between the US and France, broke out in 1798. Adams and the moderate Federalists were able to avoid a war through various unpopular measures. They built up the army, built warships, raised taxes, cracked down on political immigrants and domestic opponents with the Alien and Sedition Acts, signed by Adams in 1798. While rarely invoked they increased strong opposition to the Federalists.

Adams was a poor negotiator and never fully controlled his Cabinet. For long periods, Adams sequestered himself at home in Massachusetts. In February 1799, Adams surprised the country by sending a diplomat on a peace mission to France. Napoleon was in power in Paris and Adams realized animosity was not effective so he showed readiness for friendly relations and brought the US back from the brink of war. This deeply split his own party.

On November 1, 1800, just before the election, Adams arrived in the new Capital City to take up his residence in the White House. In the election, Adams received only a few less electoral votes than Jefferson. Following this 1800 defeat, Adams retired into private life and returned to farming in the Quincy area.

In 1812 Adams decided to reconcile with Jefferson, and sent a brief note to Jefferson, which resulted in a resumption of their friendship. their correspondence lasted the rest of their lives.

Sixteen months before his death, his son, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth President of the United States (1825–1829).

On July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Adams died at Quincy, after (allegedly) uttering the famous last words "Thomas Jefferson still survives." Unbeknownst to Adams, Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.

Note: Adams' term as Vice President is sometimes listed as starting on either March 4 or April 6. March 4 is the official start of the first vice presidential term. April 6 is the date on which Congress counted the electoral votes and certified a Vice President. April 21 is the date on which Adams took the oath of office.

Adams's diaries, letters, and books provide invaluable information about the politics and his writings reveal an astute observer and very human philosopher whose warmth, wit, and playfulness captivate the reader. His reputation as an intelligent and courageous statesman endures.


We can note the dark eyes and eyebrows of Scorpio Sun.
Aries moon may lend the arch to the brows.
The large forehead and smaller mouth reflective of the of Virgo Rising.

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