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.

[Of those opposed to slavery,] George Washington belonged, with Mason and Jefferson, in the hardest category — disapproving owners. Theirs was the most difficult position to maintain, psychologically and rhetorically. It would not be maintained over the next sixty years, as southern antislavery rhetoric withered. Practically and politically, disapproving owners were in the hardest position from which to achieve their goals. How do you weaken an institution in which you and all your neighbors are enmeshed? Washington did enough, finally, to free his own slaves, which was more than many owners in his position did. Jefferson never freed all his, nor did any of the other slave-owning presidents.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)