I feel an incredible connection to John Adams. It happened when I first watched the mini series on HBO. Like many in America, John Adams was a stranger to me. He is mentioned in history class, but he is never held in the same light as Washington and Jefferson. When you talk about the Founding Fathers, his name is rarely mentioned. However, when you read the history, you quickly find the man was responsible for most of what this country is.
And I agree with 99% of everything he says, more than 200 years later.
Adams was a worker. He was a committed man. He was a devoted father and husband. He was an obsessive reader, and thus very well versed in the history of the world and governments. He was a lawyer, and very familiar with the laws of man.
However, he was also cocky, stubborn and convinced he was always right. He also has a very bad temper. He expected everyone to agree with him. Anyone who knows me well, can see we are alike.
He was fascinated by human nature. He constantly was trying to find reason and purpose to the actions of man. He was able to apply this fascination to his opinions on politics. For example an entry from his journal in 1756:
" …human nature is more easily wrought upon and governed by promises, and encouragement, and praise, than by punishment, and threatening, and blame. But we must be cautious and sparing of our praise, lest ut become too familiar and cheap…"
Anyone who studies the current political landscape would call that prophetic. We now cast our votes based on who makes us feel good, not for who actually do the job we need. Hope and Change is not always the answer.
He was a very conservative man. He had a strong belief in the family and the role of the mother and father. Again, in a very prophetic entry to his journal in 1778:
"…The vices and examples of the parents cannot be concealed from the children. How is it possible that children can have any just sense of the sacred obligations of morality and religion, if, from their earliest infancy, they learn that their mothers live in habitual infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in constant infidelity to their mothers?"
He nor his family every owned a slave, and thought the entire instiition was America’s only glaring fault.
But, it is his feelings on the role of goverment that I relate the most with. He understood the importance of personal freedom, but also knew enough about human nature that a government is necessary. And while he has become known for signing into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, the details behind why he did shows he did not do so without much thought and pressure from his cabinet. ( which he inherited from G Washington and was really under the control of A Hamilton, Adams lifelong nemesis). He knew that the government should stay out of the affairs of the states, but provide for the national defense, and deal with strictly foreign affairs. The thought of people depending on the government to live would have something he strongly disagreed with. He thought the greatest form of philanthropy was to give a man a job, and allow him to earn his own way.
And he died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
I really like the guy. We sure could use him today.