John Adams

Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1793

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QUICK FACTS
BORN:
30 October 1735 in the north precinct of Braintree, Massachusetts (now Quincy)
  DIED:
4 July 1826 at his home, Peacefield, in Quincy, Massachusetts
Buried at Quincy, in a crypt at United First Parish Church.

AUTHOR OF
  • Novanglus; or, A History of the Dispute with America, From Its Origin, in 1754, to the Present, 1775
  • Thoughts on Government, 1776
  • A Defence of the Constitution of Government of the United States of America, 1787
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He is vain, irritable and a bad calculator of the force and probable effect of the motives which govern men. This is all the ill which can possibly be said of him. He is as disinterested as the being which made him: he is profound in his views: and accurate in his judgment except where knowledge of the world is necessary to form a judgment. He is so amiable, that I pronounce you will love him if ever you become acquainted with him. He would be, as he was, a great man in Congress.

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison, 1788.

Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia.

Since the heady moment when he married Martha Custis in 1759, combining their estates into one of the preeminent holdings in northern Virginia, everything Washington touched had turned to brass. He had failed repeatedly to grow profitable tobacco crops. In London his leaf had acquired an unshakable reputation for mediocrity. Meanwhile the expenses of maintaining a great planter’s lifestyle, while keeping up a slave labor force and several plantations, had proved unrelenting. His own debtors — former comrades-in-arms who unhesitatingly touched him for loans, neighbors with whom he ran accounts, tenants who owed him rent — were slow to pay, and sometimes never did; yet he was too tightly bound by the expectations of gentlemanly behavior to refuse a loan when asked, or to press a debtor insistently when payment fell due. By 1763 Washington found himself deep in debt, doubting that he would ever extricate himself by growing tobacco, and casting about to find some way out of his predicament.

Fred Anderson
Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 - 1766 (2000)