But Adams did not just read books. He battled them. The casual presumption that there is some kind of rough correlation between the books in the library of any prominent historical figure and the person’s cast of mind would encounter catastrophe with Adams, because he tended to buy and read book with which he profoundly disagreed. Then, as he read, he recorded in the margins and at the bottom of the pages his usually hostile opinions of the arguments and authors.... [T]he Adams marginalia constitute evidence more revealing of his convictions about political theory than any of his official publications.
Soldier, politician, New York governor, vice president under Jefferson and Madison; 1739—1812.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, vice president under Madison; 1744—1814.
Boston merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1737—93.
Lawyer, orator, Virginia governor; 1736—99.
Lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, CT governor; 1731—96.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Lawyer, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, diplomat, third President, founder of the University of Virginia; 1743—1826.
”Light Horse Harry”; Continental Army officer, Virginia governor; 1756—1818.
Soldier, lawyer, Virginia governor, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, fifth President; 1758—1831.
Soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, congressman, South Carolina governor, senator; 1757—1824.
Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1993)