John Jay

by Benjamin West (1738—1820)

Oil on canvas; Height: 28 ½” (72.3 cm); Width: 36 ¼” (92.7 cm). Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library; Winterthur, DE.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas; 131 x 102 cm (51 9/16 x 40 3/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

by Giuseppe Ceracchi (1751—1801)

Painted plaster; 9 3/4 x 26 x 19 1/4 in., 30 lb. (24.8 x 66 x 48.9 cm, 13.6 kg). New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by Giuseppe Ceracchi (1751—1801)

U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on wood; 10.2 x 8.3 cm (4 x 3 1/4 in). Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, Katonah, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. City Hall Portrait Collection, New York, NY.

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.

Joseph J. Ellis
Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1993)