Category Archives: John Adams

Alexander Hamilton 1.11.13 Thought of the Day

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”
Alexander Hamilton

Oil on canvas portrait of Alexander Hamilton b...

Oil on canvas portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alexander Hamilton was born on this day in Charlestown, Nevis, British  West Indies in 1755 (or 1757). It is the 258th (255th) anniversary of his birth.

Hamilton was born to humble beginnings. He was conceived during an extramarital affair between Rachel Fawcett Lavine and James Hamilton. When Lavine’s husband threw mother and son out of the house she moved in with James Hamilton. But he abandoned the little family  to return to Scotland for financial reasons. Lavine relied on the kindness of family members and friends to help raise the boy.

English: Source: http://alexanderhamiltonexhib...

English: Source: http://alexanderhamiltonexhibition.com/timeline/timeline1.html, original source stated as Library of congress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because he was illegitimate he was not allowed to enroll at the Church of England school, however he was given some tutoring and private lessons, and had the family library at his disposal  to read both Greek and Latin.

Around the age of ten the family moved to the nearby island of St. Croix where his mother died soon after. Friends and relatives took an interest in the future of the young Hamilton by encouraging him to work as a mercantile clerk and to read and write, activities at which he excelled despite his lack of proper schooling. [Brandywide Battlefield Historic Site — Alexander Hamilton]

He wrote an essay about a hurricane that had hit the island in the summer 1772 for the local paper. Influential readers of the paper were so impressed with the essay that the started a fund to send Hamilton to America for formal education. By late 1773 he was enrolled in King’s College (now Columbia) in New York City. While at King’s College he wrote his first political essays.

With war pending, Hamilton immersed himself in the study of artillery tactics and military maneuvers. In March of 1776, he joined the New York Artillery, and was recommended for an officer’s commission by General Alexander McDougall. He was thereby given the title “Captain of the Provincial Company of Artillery.” [Ibid]

He proved “a conscientious and business-like leader.” After distinguishing himself at the Battle of Trenton Hamilton was appointed as an aide to George Washington. He was a close advisor to the general for the rest of the war.

He wrote Washington’s critical letters, and composed numerous reports on the strategic reform and restructuring of the Continental Army….While serving as an adviser for George Washington, Hamilton had come to realize Congress’ weaknesses, including jealousy and resentment between states, which, Hamilton believed, stemmed from the Articles of Confederation. … Hamilton left his adviser post in 1782, convinced that establishing a strong central government was the key to achieving America’s independence… [Biography.com]

English: US Postage stamp: Alexander Hamilton,...

English: US Postage stamp: Alexander Hamilton, issue of 1956, $5, black (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hamilton worked as part of the New York delegation to fix the Articles of Confederation. Among other things, he was a strong advocate for a central source of revenue. Although he didn’t help write the Constitution he did help get it ratified. He wrote 51 of the 85 Federalist Paper.

He was appointed Secretary of the Treasury  when George Washington was elected President. Hamilton served in that post from 1789-1795.

Hamilton was fatally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr  on July 11, 1804. He died the next day in New York City.

An artistic rendering of the July 11, 1804 due...

An artistic rendering of the July 11, 1804 duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton by J. Mund. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Abigail Adams 11.22.12 Thought of the Day

“We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”
— Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abigail Smith was born on this day in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1744. Today is the 268th anniversary of her birth.

Abigail  was literally born in a church. Her father, Reverend William Smith was the pastor at the North Parish Congregational Church, her mother, Elizabeth Quincy Smith was first cousins to Dorothy Quincy Hancock (John Hancock’s wife). Reverend Smith believed in reason and morality and he imparted those lessons to  his daughters Mary, Elizabeth and Abigail. Her mother home schooled the girls with the aid of her extended family’s libraries. The girls studied English and French literature, philosophy, history, and the Bible. Abigail
“was a keen political observer, prolific writer…” [abigailadams.org]

Abigail’s third cousin John Adams visited the Smith’s with his friend Richard Cranch. Cranch was engaged to Mary Smith, the eldest Smith sister. Adam’s was just a country lawer, and Abigail’s mother didn’t approve of him as a suitor, but the couple prevailed.

On October 25, 1764 Abigail married John Adams, a Harvard graduate pursuing a law career.  Their marriage was one of mind and heart, producing three sons and two daughters, and lasting for more than half a century. [Ibid]

As a young married couple they lived on the farm John inherited, Braintree. Later they moved to Boston. She stayed in Massachusetts when John went to Philadelphia  to participate in the Continental Congress (1 & 2), travelled abroad as an envoy, and served in elected office.

Abigail struggled alone with wartime shortages, lack of income, and difficult living conditions.  She ran the household, farm, and educated her children.  Abigail’s letters to John were strong, witty and supportive.  The letters, which have been preserved, detail her life during revolutionary times, and describe the many dangers and challenges she faced as our young country fought to become independent.  Most of all, the letters tell of her loneliness without her “dearest friend,” her husband John. [Ibid]

She joined John in Paris in 1784 and travelled with him to England the following year. In 1800 she became the First Lady to preside over the White House as John Adams became the second President of the United States. (The Capitol had recently been moved to Washington DC).

English: "Abigail Smith Adams," oil ...

English: “Abigail Smith Adams,” oil on canvas, by the American artist Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When John Adams lost his bid for a second term he and Abigail moved back to Braintree …”and for 17 years enjoyed the companionship that public life had long denied them.” [Ibid]

Abigail Adams died on October 28, 1818. She was a woman …

often ahead of her time with many of her ideas. She opposed slavery, believed in equal education for boys and girls, and practiced what she learned as a child – the duty of the fortunate is to help those who are less fortunate. [Ibid]

 


Thought of the Day 10.30.12 John Adams (PART ONE)

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

President of the Senate John Adams

President of the Senate John Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Adams was born on this day in Braintree, Massachusetts Bay Colony, USA in 1735. Today is the 275th anniversary of his birth.

His ancestors came over on the Mayflower. His father was a farmer, shoemaker, a Puritan deacon, a lieutenant in the militia and a member of town council.  John loved being outdoors and he sometimes skipped school to hunt or fish.

He said later that he would have preferred a life as a farmer, but his father insisted that he receive a formal education. His father hoped that he might become a clergyman. John attended a dame school, a local school taught by a female teacher that was designed to teach the rudimentary skills of reading and writing, followed by a Latin school, a preparatory school for those who planned to attend college. He eventually excelled at his studies and entered Harvard College at age fifteen. He graduated in 1755. [Miller Center.org]

After graduation he taught school for a time to earn enough money to study law.  In 1756 he began a two-year apprenticeship studying law with John Putnam  and was admitted to the bar  at 26. He opened his practice in 1758, but things were slow going at first. He had only one case in his first year of practicing law which he lost.

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His Law practice began to grow and he felt he was on sturdy enough financial ground to begin courting Abigail Smith. They married in 1764. John and Abigail Adams had six children together (including John Quincy Adams [click HERE for my John Quincy bioBlog ] and one of American History’s most endearing relationships.

“He early became identified with the patriot cause.” [Our Presidents/2.John Adams. whitehouse.gov.]  He gained a reputation by opposing the Stamp Act 1765 that same year he published an article “Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law.” 

When the Incident on King Street (aka the Boston Massacre) resulted in the death of five civilians in March of 1770 Adams defended the eight British soldiers and Captain Preston, the lone officer, charged with the crime. It was important that the soldiers receive a fair trail so the Crown would not have grounds for retaliation. Adams, with his Patriot pedigree and commitment to the letter of the law, was the perfect man for the job. His impassioned speech that “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”[Quotes.net] saved the men’s lives. (Sam Adams was on the prosecuting team).

He was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly in 1770, and was chosen one of five to represent the colony at the First Continental Congress in 1774. [Signers of the Declaration of Independence. US History.org]

While his flashier (and more popular) cousin Samuel Adams rallied/roused crowds in the square, John worked in the courts, taking a more measured approach to American equality.

He was reelected to the Second Continental Congress, … in May 1775, just a few days after war … erupted at Lexington and Concord. When Congress created the Continental army in June 1775, Adams nominated George Washington… to be its commander. Adams soon emerged as the leader of the faction in Congress that pushed to declare independence. . [Miller Center.org]

In June of 1776 the Continental Congress appointed Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft a Declaration of Independence. “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled” was presented on June 28th. After much debate (especially about the slavery issue) the Declaration was adopted late in the morning of July 4th 1776.

John Adams, Second President (1797-1801)

John Adams  (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Adams wrote a pamphlet detailing his Thoughts on Government. In it he advised that the new Continental government be one which benefited the happiness and virtue of the greatest number of people (not one that benefited the knighted few or the King). He advocated  a government with separate executive, judicial and legislative branches.

[Continued in PART TWO]


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