John Adams

JOHN ADAMS, a distinguished patriot of the revolution, was born at Braintree, Massachusetts, October 19, 1735. The ancestors of Mr. A. had left England for the wilds of America, in order to enjoy their religious opinions unmolested. They were among the first settlers of Massachusetts, Henry Adams, the great-great-grandfather of John, and one of the original proprietors of the town of Braintree, having fled from England, with other Puritans, in the year 1630. Their condition was that of substantial yeomen, who possessed the fee simple of their lands, and maintained themselves and families by manual labor. Mr. A. having, when yet a boy, evinced great fondness for books, and readiness in learning, his father determined to give him a collegiate education, and placed him, in consequence, under the care of Mr. Marsh (who was afterwards the preceptor of the celebrated Josiah Quincy), that he might be prepared for entrance into the university of Cambridge. He remained in that institution until the year 1755, when he received his bachelor's degree, and in 1758 that of master of arts. Whilst at college, he is said to have been distinguished by intense application, retentiveness of memory, acuteness of reasoning, boldness and originality of thought, strength of language, and an honesty of character which could neither assume nor tolerate disguise. After he had left college, he commenced the study of law, at Worcester, with colonel James Putnam, and, during the period he was so engaged, instructed pupils in the Latin and Greek languages, in order to be able to defray his expenses himself. Before proceeding farther, it may not be amiss to notice the posture of affairs in Massachusetts at that epoch. For a long time past, that province had been disturbed by almost unremitted contentions between its inhabitants and the parliament of Great Britain, on various important subjects. The English legislature had, in fact, nothing to do with the colonies, as all dominion acquired by conquest or discovery invariably accrued to the king. To him alone the emigrants paid allegiance and applied for protection, and, although parliament always affected to believe itself entitled to regulate their concerns, they received very little interruption from it in the exercise of the privilege granted them by the king of governing and legislating for themselves. In the course of time, however, parliament became jealous of the power, approaching to independence, which they enjoyed, and began to impose unconstitutional restraints upon their commerce, to violate their charters, and, in short, to treat them so arbitrarily, that their spirit was completely roused, and a vigorous resistance called forth. Massachusetts, especially, had become a theatre of perpetual struggle for power on the one side, and for freedom on the other. But it was hitherto only an intellectual warfare, no idea of a separation from the mother country having been entertained. In 1758, Mr. A. left the office of colonel Putnam, and entered that of Jeremiah Gridley, then attorney-general of the province, and of the highest eminence at the bar. Gridley had, some years previously, superintended also the legal studies of James Otis, and, proud of his two pupils, used often to say, that he had raised two young eagles, who were, one day or other, to peck out his eyes.' In 1759, Mr. A. was admitted, at his recommendation, a member of the bar of Suffolk. Mr. A. commenced the practice of his profession in that part of his native town now called Quincy,but first brought himself into notice by his defense of a prisoner in the county of Plymouth, from which time a sufficiency of lucrative business generally occupied his attention. In 1761, he was admitted to the degree of barrister at law, and shortly afterwards was placed in the possession of a small landed estate by his father's decease. In February of this year, an incident occurred, which inflamed his enthusiasm in the cause of his country's rights to the highest pitch. The British cabinet had long shown a desire to assert the sovereign authority of parliament over the colonies in all cases of taxation and internal policy but the first evidence of its having determined to do so was an order in council, issued this year, enjoining the officers of the customs in Massachusetts Bay to execute the acts of trade, and make application for writsof assistance, to the supreme judicature of the province. These writs were a species of general search-warrants, authorizing those who were empowered. to carry them into effect to enter all houses, warehouses, etc., for the purpose of discovering and seizing such goods as were not discharged from the taxes imposed upon them by the acts. The officers of the customs applied for them, in pursuance of their instructions, to the court at Salem, but the demand was refused, on account of doubts concerning their constitutionality. It was then determined to have the affair argued by counsel in Boston. Great alarm now pervaded the whole community. Mr. Otis was engaged, by the merchants of Salem and Boston, to oppose the concession of so formidable an instrument of arbitrary power. In order to do so with entire freedom, he resigned the lucrative station of advocate-general in the court of admiralty, which he then enjoyed. Of the masterly manner in which he performed his duty, Mr. A., who was present at the discussion, has transmitted a vivid account. Otis,' says he, was a flame of fire! With a promptitude of classical allusion, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities, a prophetic glance of his eyes into futurity, and a rapid torrent of impetuous eloquence, he hurried away all before him. American Independence was then and there born.' He afterwards adds, Every man of an immensely crowded audience appeared to me to go away, as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.' Speaking of this discourse on another occasion, he said, that James Otis, then and there, first breathed into this nation the breath of life.' In 1764, he married Abigail Smith, second daughter of the Rev. William Smith, of Weymouth, and grand-daughter of colonel Quincy, of Mount Wollaston, a lady every way worthy of her husband, endowed by nature with a countenance singularly noble and lovely, and with a mind whose fine powers were improved by an excellent education. Her ardor in the cause of her country was as elevated as his own, and her piety unaffected and exemplary. About a year afterwards, Mr. A. published in the Boston Gazette several pieces, under the title of An Essay on Canon and Feudal Law,' which were reprinted in London, in 1768, and called A Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law.' It is, perhaps, not the smallest proof of its merit, that it was there attributed to Gridley, who at that time enjoyed the highest reputation for ability. The friends of the colonies in England termed it one of the very best productions ever seen from North America.' The name of the real author was afterwards divulged, in 1783, when it was published in Philadelphia, by Robert Bell, in a pamphlet form, with lord Sheffield's observations on the commerce of the American States, and entitled An Essay on Canon and Feudal Law, by John Adams, Esq.' It seems to have been the principal object of the author to extinguish, as far as possible, the blind and almost superstitious veneration of his countrymen for the institutions of the parent country, by holding up to their abhorrence the principles of the canon and feudal law, and showing to them the conspiracy which existed between church and state, for the purpose of oppressing the people. He inculcates the sentiments of genuine liberty, as well as the necessity of correct information on the part of his fellow-citizens, in order that they might be prepared to assert and maintain their rights by force, if force should ever become necessary. It was indeed a work eminently calculated to excite the people of America to resist, at all hazards, any infringement of their liberties. In December, 1765, Mr. A. was engaged, as counsel with Mr. Gridley and Mr. Otis, to support, before the governor and council, a memorial presented to the former, from the town of Boston, praying that the courts, which had been closed on account of the opposition to the stamp act, might again be opened. Through their united exertions, the petition was successful. In the same year, he removed to Boston, where he continued in the practice of his profession on a very extensive scale. After he had resided there about two years, the crown officers of the province, thinking, perhaps, that his patriotism was not without its price, made him an offer, through Mr. Sewall (between whom and himself an intimate friendship subsisted, formed at the time when he was studying with colonel Putnam), of the office of advocate-general in the court of admiralty, the most lucrative post in the gift of the governor. This office also was one which conducted its incumbents directly to the highest provincial honors. He refused it, however, as he says in his preface to the late edition of Novanglus, decidedly and peremptorily, though respectfully.' In 1769, he was appointed chairman of the committee chosen by the town of Boston, for the purpose of drawing up instructions to their representatives, to resist the encroachments of the British government. His colleagues were R. Dana and Jos. Warren. At the time they were thus employed, the metropolis was invested by an armed force, both by sea and land, and the statehouse surrounded by a military guard, with cannon pointed at the door. Large majorities of both houses of parliament had signified their approval of the measures adopted by the king had promised him their support, and besought him to prose cute, within the realm, all those who had been guilty of treasonable acts, in Massachusetts, since the year 1767, in accordance with the decree of parliament of the 35th of Henry VIII. Nevertheless, the committee performed their task with undaunted firmness, and reported the instructions which, no doubt, contributed to produce the strong resolutions subsequently adopted by the legislature of Massachusetts. It was on account of these instructions and resolutions, that the provincial garrison was withdrawn, by order of the governor, from the castle, and regular troops, in the pay of the crown, substituted. The instructions also formed one of the specific charges made against the colony by the committee of the lords of council for plantation affairs, to the lords of council, July 6, 1770.

A striking example of the firmness and uprightness of Mr. A. occurred during the course of that year. He had, hitherto, been very active in stimulating the people of his province to the strenuous maintenance of their rights, and had thereby aided in producing an excitement greater than he could have wished, and which he found it necessary to counteract. The people of Boston had become exasperated at the idea of a garrison placed in their city, and were extremely hostile to the soldiers composing it. These feelings led to an attack upon a party of them under the command of captain Preston, March 5. They fired on the assailants in self defense, and killed several of them. The soldiers were immediately arraigned before the civil authority, and Mr. Adams, in conjunction with Josiah Quincy and Mr. Sampson S. Blowers, was requested to aid them upon their trial. Although the minds of the people were inflamed almost to madness, and the defense of the accused seemed to involve a certain loss of popularity, Mr. A. immediately undertook to act as their advocate. Mr. A. was no demagogue; he saw that the honor of his country was at stake, and he rejoiced, as has been well said, in the opportunity of showing to the world, that the cause of America did not depend upon a temporary excitement, which could stifle the voice of justice, but upon the sober, steady, persevering determination of the people to support their rights. The cause was conducted by him and his colleagues with great ability, and the soldiers were all acquitted save two, who were found guilty of manslaughter, received a slight branding as a punishment, and were then discharged. Scarcely any thing which occurred during the revolution confers more honor upon the national character, and did more service to the cause of America, than this triumph of justice. Mr. A. soon received a proof that the public confidence in him was not diminished, by his election, in May, 1770, to the legislature of his state, as one of the representatives of the town of Boston. His conduct in this new situation displayed the same patriotism, courage and hostility to the despotism of the mother country, by which he had always been distinguished. He took a prominent part in every public measure, and served on several committees, who reported some of the most important state papers of the time; among which were the address and protest to the governor against the removal of the general court from Boston to Cambridge. In Bradford's History of Massachusetts, we find the following account of a controversy in which Mr. A. was engaged in the year 1773. The ministerial regulation for paying the salary of the judges, which rendered them wholly dependent on the crown, was the occasion of a learned and able discussion in the public papers, by William Brattle, senior member of the council, and John Adams. The essays of the latter were written with great learning and ability, and had a happy effect in enlightening the public mind on a question of very great importance. It subjected him, indeed, to the displeasure of governor Hutchinson and the ministerial party; and at the next election in May, when chosen by the assembly into the council, the governor gave his negative to the choice. These essays were published in the Boston Gazette of February, 1773, under Mr. Adams' proper signature, and would make a pamphlet of 50 or 60 pages.' In 1774, he was again rejected by governor Gage, and soon afterwards he was appointed one of the committee of the town of Boston, who prepared the celebrated resolutions on the Boston port-bill. June 17, of this year, governor Gage, having dissolved the assembly, this body, before separating, passed a resolution to appoint a committee to meet other committees from other colonies, for the purpose of consulting upon their common interests, and, in consequence, Mr. Thomas Cushing, Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. John Adams and Mr. Robert Treat Paine were elected to the first continental congress, which met at Philadelphia in the following September. Soon after Mr. A. was chosen, an incident occurred which gives an idea of his feelings on contemplating this great and daring national movement. His friend Sewall, who had taken the ministerial side in politics, and was at that time attorney-general of the province, hearing of his election, invited him to a morning walk, in the course of which he endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose of assuming the seat in congress to which he had been appointed. He told him that the determination of Great Britain to pursue her system was fixed; that her power was irresistible, and would involve him in destruction, as well as all his associates who persevered in opposition to her designs. I know,' replied he, that Great Britain has determined on her system, and that very determination determines me on mine. You know that I have been constant and uniform in opposition to her designs. The die is now cast. I have passed the Rubicon. Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish with my country, is my fixed, unalterable determination.' On bidding him adieu, Mr. A. said to his friend, I see we must part, and with a bleeding heart I say, I fear forever. But, you may depend upon it, this adieu is the sharpest thorn on which I ever set my foot.' Mr. A. took his seat in congress, September 5, 1774, the first day of their session, and was soon chosen a member of some of the most important committees, such as that which drew up the statement of the rights of the colonies, and that which prepared the address to the king. He and his colleagues carried with them the character of being so thoroughly desirous of independence, that, before they arrived at Philadelphia, warning had been given to them, by many of the most respectable inhabitants of the Middle States, not to utter a word on that subject, as it was as unpopular as the stamp act itself. Almost all the delegates from the other colonies were impressed with the idea that England could be brought to terms, without resorting to a declaration of independence. Washington alone, of the Virginia delegation, was doubtful whether the measures adopted by congress would be efficacious in attaining the object for which they were designed. In one of his letters, Mr. A. says, that Richard Henry Lee used the following language to him, when they parted: We shall infallibly carry all our points; you will be completely relieved; all the offensive acts will be repealed; the army and fleet will be recalled, and Britain will give up her foolish project.' On his return to Massachusetts, he became engaged in a controversy with his friend Sewall, who was writing a series of essays under the appellation of Massachusettensis for the purpose of vindicating the cause of the government party. Mr. A.'s papers were published in the Boston Gazette, with the signature of Novanglus, and exhibit the cause of America in the most triumphant and favorable light. When Mr. A. resumed his seat in congress the following year, hostilities had in reality commenced between Great Britain and the colonists, though as yet not openly declared, and the blood of numbers of brave men had stained the plains of Lexington and Concord. On receiving the account of this battle, congress determined upon war. It was necessary to fix upon some one for the post of commander-in-chief of the troops which were ordered to be raised. The eyes of all the New England delegation were turned upon General Ward, then at the head of the army in Massachusetts. At a meeting of them, when that officer was proposed for nomination, Mr. A. alone dissented, and urged the selection of George Washington, one of the representatives from Virginia. He was resisted, and left the meeting with the declaration that Washington on the next day should be nominated. He was accordingly nominated, at the instigation of Mr. A., by governor Johnstone of Maryland, and chosen without an opposing voice. Five days after the appointment of General Washington, Mr. Jefferson made his first appearance on the floor of congress, having been chosen by the people of Virginia to fill the place of Patrick Henry, who had lately been elected the governor of that province. Between this distinguished man and Mr. A. a friendship speedily arose, which subsisted, with a short interruption, during the remainder of their lives. When Mr. A. returned to Massachusetts, after the dissolution of the congress of 1775, the post of chief justice of the state was offered to him, which he declined, on account of his belief that he should be able to render more effectual service to the cause of his country in its national councils. At the time that he resumed his seat in them in 1776, hostilities were active between Great Britain and the colonies. But the object of the latter was as yet merely to resist the authority assumed by the parent country to impose taxes upon them at pleasure. Few persona entertained the idea of a dissolution of connexion; very few, even of the delegates in congress, seemed to desire it; but among those few John Adams was the foremost. We have already mentioned its unpopularity. As soon as Mr. A. was suspected in Philadelphia of being an advocate of that measure, he was represented constantly in the most odious light, and even pointed at and avoided on appearing in the streets. Still, however, he persevered, made every day proselytes, and, May 6, 1776, moved in congress a resolution, which was, in fact, a virtual declaration of independence, recommending to the colonies to adopt such a government as would, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents and of America.' This passed, after a hard struggle, on the 15th of the same month, and was the prelude to the glorious and daring resolution, moved by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, on the 7th of June following, and seconded by Mr. A., that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connexion between them and the state of Great Britain is, and of right ought to be, totally dissolved.' The debate upon this motion was of the most animated character. It continued from the 7th to the 10th, when the further discussion of the measure was postponed to the 1st of July. A committee of five was also appointed to prepare a provisional draft of a declaration of independence. The members of it were chosen by ballot, and were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. A. were deputed a sub-committee to prepare the instrument, the former of whom, at the earnest solicitation of the latter, became its author.

On the 1st of July, Mr. Lee's resolution was again considered, and debated during that and the following day, when it was finally adopted. The draft of the declaration was then submitted for the purpose of undergoing an examination in detail. It was passed on the 4th of the same month, as prepared by Mr. Jefferson, with only a few alterations, which were made through a prudent deference to the views of some of the states. Mr. A always preferred the draft as it originally stood. The declaration was not adopted without serious opposition from many members of the congress, including John Dickinson, one of the ablest men in that assembly. But their arguments were completely overthrown by the force and eloquence of Mr. A., whose speech on the subject of independence is said to have been unrivaled. Mr. Jefferson himself has affirmed, that the great pillar of support to the declaration of independence, and its ablest advocate and champion on the floor of the house, was John Adams.' Speaking of his general character as an orator, the same illustrious man observed, that he was the Colossus of that congress: not graceful, not elegant, not always fluent in his public addresses, he yet came out with a power, both of thought and expression, which moved his hearers from their seats.' Mr. Silas Deane, who was a commissioner with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Arthur Lee, at the court of Versailles, having been recalled, Mr. A. was chosen, Nov. 28, 1777, to fill his place. By this appointment, he was released from the laborious and important duties of chairman of the board of war, which post he had filled since June 13, 1776. It is stated that he was a member of ninety committees, twice as many as any other representative, except Richard Henry Lee and Samuel Adams, of twenty-five of which he was chairman, though it was the policy to put Virginia generally at the head. Among these committees were several of the greatest consequence; one of them was that which was sent to Staten Island at the request of lord Howe, who had solicited an interview with some of the members of congress, which, however, produced no effect, on account of the refusal of his lordship to consider them as commissioners from congress, and the declaration of Mr. A. that he might view him in any light he pleased, except in that of a British subject. ' About two months after his appointment, Mr. A. embarked in the Boston frigate, and arrived safely at his place of destination, though an English fleet had been despatched to intercept him. The treaties of commerce and alliance with France were signed before he reached that country, and, after remaining there until the following Au gust, he returned to the United States, the nomination of Dr. Franklin as minister plenipotentiary to the court of Versailles having superseded the powers of the commissioners. Immediately on his arrival, he was elected a member of the convention to prepare a form of government for the state of Massachusetts, and placed upon the sub-committee chosen to draft the project of a constitution, to be laid before that body. The general frame of the constitution, particularly the manner of dividing and distributing power, and the clause respecting the duty incumbent upon government with regard to the patronage of literature and the arts and sciences, were the work of his pen. Three months after his return, congress again sent him abroad with two commissions, one as minister plenipotentiary to negotiate a peace, the other to form a commercial treaty with Great Britain. He embarked in the French frigate Sensible, Nov. 17, and was forced to land at Corunna, in Spain, from which place he traveled over the mountains to Paris, where he arrived in Feb, 1780. After remaining a short time in that city, having found the French court jealous of his commission to form a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, he repaired to Holland in Aug. 1780, the same year in which congress passed a vote of approbation of his conduct, instead of recalling him, as the French minister, count de Vergennes, had solicited them to do, on account of his refusal to communicate to him his instructions about the treaty of commerce, and his opposition to a claim set up by France, that, when congress called in the old continental money at forty for one, a discrimination ought to have been made, in favor of the French holders of that paper. The June previous to his journey to Amsterdam, Mr. A. was appointed in the room of Mr. Laurens to obtain loans in Holland, and, in December of the same year, was invested with full powers to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with that country. Mr. A. at first had to contend with great difficulties in Holland. He was opposed by the whole influence of the British government, as well as by the power of the prince of Orange, and even, strange as it may appear, by the intrigues of France herself, the professed friend and avowed ally of the United States. He found the people of Holland entirely unacquainted with the affairs of his country, and immediately began to impart to them information concerning that subject, using, for this purpose, principally, two newspapers, one called the Leyden Gazette, and the other Le Politique Hollandois, in which he wrote various political articles. He also published a series of twenty-six letters, in answer to a set of queries proposed to him by Mr. Kalkoen, an eminent jurist of Amsterdam, containing an account of the rise and progress of the dispute with Great Britain, and of the resources, spirit and prospects of the United States. These epistles, together with some essays written by Mr. Kalkoen, drawing a comparison between the struggles of the United States for their liberty, and those formerly made by the seven United Provinces, which eventuated in their independence, had a great effect in enlightening the people of Holland, and inspired them with sentiments highly favorable to the American cause. Shortly afterwards, Dec. 21, 1780, a rupture took place between England and Holland, occasioned by the accession of the latter to the armed neutrality, and the discovery of a negotiation between Mr. Lee, the American commissioner at Berlin, and Mr. Van Berckel the pensionary of Amsterdam, for a treaty of amity and commerce. Even at this early period, he had formed an opinion decidedly in favor of the establishment of a navy, and expressed it in almost all his letters home. In July, 1781, he was summoned to Paris for the purpose of consulting upon the offer of mediation made by the courts of Austria and Russia, and suggested an answer adopted by the French court, which put an end to the negotiation on that subject; the mediating powers refusing to acknowledge the independence of the United States without the consent of Great Britain.

Oct. 19, 1781, Mr. A., in apposition to the advice of the duke de la Vauguion, the French minister at the Hague, and on his own responsibility, communicated to their high mightinesses his letters of credence, presenting to their president also, at the same time, a memorial, dated April 19th, in which he justified the declaration of independence, and endeavored to convince the people of Holland that it was for their interest to form a connection with the United States and to give them support in their difficulties. As he had not yet been acknowledged by the States General as the minister of a sovereign and independent nation, the president could not receive the memorial in form, but he engaged to make a report of the substance of what had been communicated to him by Mr. A. In the August previous, Mr. A. had received instructions to propose a triple alliance between France, the United Provinces and the United States, to exist as long as hostilities were carried on by the latter against Great Britain, one of the indispensable conditions of which, on the part of Holland, was the recognition of American independence. The alliance never was effected, but the latter object Mr. Adams accomplished. Jan. 9, 1782, not having received a reply to his memorial, he waited upon the president, and demanded a categorical answer. The States General then took the subject immediately into consideration, and Mr. A. was acknowledged, April 19, as ambassador of the United States to their high mightinesses, and three days afterwards was received as such. Having obtained assurance that Great Britain would recognize the independence of the United States, he repaired, in Oct. 1782, to Paris, whither he had refused to go before such assurance was given, to commence the negotiation for peace, and there met Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay and Mr. Laurens, who, as well as Mr. Jefferson, had been appointed his colleagues. Their instructions, a part of which was to undertake nothing without the knowledge and concurrence of the ministers of France, and ultimately to govern themselves by their advice and opinion,' placed them almost entirely under the control of the French court. They were greatly displeased at being thus shackled, and, after a short time, finding themselves in a very embarrassing situation, they boldly determined to disobey their instructions, and act for themselves and for their country, without consulting the ministers of a supposed treacherous ally. The definitive treaty of peace was ratified Jan. 14, 1783.

After serving on two or three commissions to form treaties of amity and commerce with foreign powers, Mr. Adams, in 1785, was appointed the first minister to London. It is related that, upon his introduction to the king, the latter, knowing his disgust at the intrigues of the French court, and wishing to compliment him, expressed his pleasure at seeing a minister who had no prejudices in favor of France, the natural enemy of his crown. The reply of Mr. Adams evinced his patriotism and honesty of character. May it please your majesty,' said he, I have no prejudices but for my own country.' In 1787, whilst in London, he published his Defense of the American Constitutions against the attacks which they had sustained, and in October of that year, by his own request, he was allowed to return to the United States. Congress, at the same time that they gave him such permission, passed a resolution of thanks to be presented to him for his able and faithful discharge of the various important commissions with which he had been entrusted. Immediately after his return, Mr. Adams was elected the first vice-president of the United States under the new constitution, and reelected as such in 1793. He discharged the duties of his office until March 4, 1797, when he succeeded to the presidency, vacated by the resignation of General Washington. This great man's confidence he possessed in an eminent degree, and was consulted by him as often as any member of the cabinet. As the two parties in the senate were nearly balanced, Mr. Adams, while acting, ex officio, as president of that body, had often to decide questions, by his casting vote, of the highest importance, and which had excited a great deal of party feeling. One instance of this occurred, when Mr. Clarke's resolution prohibiting all intercourse with Great Britain on account of the capture of several American vessels by British ships, and other grievances, was brought before the senate, after having been adopted by the house of representatives, April 18,1794. Upon this bill the senators were equally divided, and Mr. Adams , decided against it, thinking that it would have no good effect upon the policy of England, would injure us as much as her, and perhaps occasion a war.

In 1797, he became, we have said, president of the United States. It will not be necessary to enter into a detail of the events of his administration, as they belong rather to the department of the historian than of the biographer. It will be sufficient to mention a few important circumstances. When he commenced the discharge of the duties of his office, he found the government embroiled in a dispute with France, and, in one of his earliest communications to congress, complained, in dignified and eloquent language, of a grievous insult offered by the government of that country to the ambassador of the United States. Wishing still to preserve peace, he des patched a commission consisting of three envoys, Messrs. Pinckney, Mar shall and Gerry, to France. The French government treated them in the most contumelious manner. Such, however, was the violence of party spirit, and so large a portion of the American people entertained an enthusiastic admiration of France, that even the measures which Mr. Adams then took for sustaining the national dignity had no inconsiderable effect in diminishing his popularity.

Mr. Adams was the founder of the American navy. Before his administration, scarcely an American ship of war was to be seen upon the ocean; but, during this period, by his strenuous exertions, mainly, a very respectable naval force was created. His administration, however, was not of long continuance, having pleased neither of the two great parties which divided the country (the greatest praise, perhaps, that it could receive), his measures being too strong for the democrats and too weak for the federalists. In consequence of this, after his term of four years had expired, March 4, 1801, it was found that his adversary, Mr. Jefferson, had succeeded by a majority of one vote. After his retirement to his farm in Quincy, Mr. Adams occupied himself with agricultural pursuits, obtaining amusement from the literature and politics of the day. He was nominated as governor of Massachusetts, but declined being a candidate, wishing only for repose. During the disputes with England, which occurred while Mr. Jefferson was in office, Mr. Adams published a series of letters, in a Boston paper, supporting the policy of the administration. His published writings, besides those which we have already mentioned, are Discourses on Davila,' composed in 1790, while he was vice-president, and printed in June and July of that year, in the Gazette of the United States. In 1816, Mr. Adams was chosen member of the electoral college, which voted for the elevation of Mr. Monroe to the presidency; and, the following year, sustained the greatest affliction he had ever been called upon to endure, by the loss of his wife. On this occasion, he received a beautiful letter of condolence from Mr. Jefferson, between whom and himself their former friendship, interrupted for a time by the animosities of party, had been revived. In 1820, he was elected a member of the convention to revise the constitution of his state, and chosen its president. This honor he was constrained to decline, on account of his infirmities and great age, being then 85 years old; but he attended the convention as a member, and fulfilled the duty incumbent upon him as such. After that, his life glided away in uninterrupted tranquillity, until the 4th of July, 1826, when he breathed his last with the same hallowed sentiment on his lips, which on that glorious day, fifty years before, he had uttered on the floor of congress-' Independence forever.' On the morning of the jubilee, he was roused by the ringing of the bells and the firing of cannon, and, on being asked by the servant who attended him, whether he knew what day it was, he replied, 0 yes! it is the glorious 4th of July - God bless it - God bless you all.' In the course of the day, he said, It is a great and glorious day,' and, just before he expired, exclaimed, 'Jefferson survives.' But Jefferson had already, at one o'clock, that same day, rendered his spirit into the hands of its Creator.