John Adams was the unappreciated genius of the American revolution. Today, perhaps as a result of being dumbed own by public schooling, we confute the "revolution" with the "war for independence." The fact is the revolution took place in the minds of the people, from 1765 if not earlier. That distinction first was made by John Adams. Historian ... (See the whole review)
The study of John Adams is something I regrettably have not undertaken. But his role is definitely one of the more interesting in the founding of America.
His support of the terrible Sedition Act of 1798 will forever be a huge black mark on what was, otherwise, a principled political life. Adams, to his credit, had never supported slavery. And his leadership did help prevent escalation of hostilities with France, which the Hamiltonians wanted desperately.
Jefferson often wrote that the Federalism of '99 "differed but in name" from the Toryism of '76. For that reason, the election of 1800 was as much a revolution as the first war was. Adams lost, and Jefferson won.
In many respects, current events have made me long for the days when the vice-president was the person who finished second in the Presidential election. With the Federalists controlling the White House, the Congress, and the courts, Vice-President Jefferson was the sole voice of reason in Washington at the time.
To his credit, Adams never trusted Hamilton. He once referred to him as the "bastard brat of a Scotch peddler." On this, Jefferson and Adams agreed.
The life and ideas of Adams are something I definitely need to study more.
Tenya, the discovery of John Adams was the value in this for me, as well. In some ways, it is much like the life of Newton. Newton did many things, any one of which would have been an achievement of genius. So, too, with Adams. Serving as ambassador to France, the UK, and the Netherlands, was critical to the success of the revolution. The constitution of Massachusetts was one of the models for the federal compact. Being president is no mean accomplishment. Avoiding war with France was the real achievement of his administration -- capped by the actual disbanding of the standing army. Through all of this, though nominally a "Federalist" with a basic distrust of "democracy" he was truly independent of party politics. Adams was his own man.
One interesting tidbit as an aside: the word capitalist. Libertarians and others dislike it on the grounds that it is a Marxist term. I have read etymologies online that acknowledge the word "capital" from the days of Adam Smith, but the identify the word "capitalist" only from the 19th century. In fact, in a letter to the Dutch assembly, Adams used the word "capitalist" as we mean it today: a financier. (page 254)