Founding Brothers

Founding Brothers- Collaborators

What was Adams history?

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Adams was one of the Founding Fathers who would have “languished in obscurity” if he had been born in England or Europe. Like Hamilton and Franklin, Adams came from humble origins. He was born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1735. His father was a farmer and a shoemaker who sent his son to Harvard University to train as a minister. In the decade after his graduation, however, Adams worked as a schoolteacher and then as an apprentice lawyer, all the while aware that he had not yet discovered his life’s purpose. In 1764, he married Abigail Smith, who would become his lifelong partner and collaborator. In 1765, he entered the public fray by leading the opposition to the oppressive Stamp Act. From then on, “American independence became his ministerial calling, a mission he pursued with all the compressed energy of a latter-day Puritan pastor whose congregation was the American people” (165).

By the time of the first Continental Congress, Adams and his cousin, Samuel Adams were the foremost opponents to British authority in New England. Adams gained fame as the “Atlas for independence” because he openly refused to reconcile with England, and because of his guidebook Thoughts on Government (165). He lobbied for George Washington to lead the Continental Army, and for Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. Adams served as Chair on the Board of War and Ordinance during the most uncertain period of the war.

In 1777, Adams accompanied Benjamin Franklin to Paris, where they hoped to negotiate an alliance against the British. Adams thought the older man was libertine and egotistical. After returning briefly to draft the Massachusetts state constitution, he resumed his work in Europe, remaining there until 1788. It was during this time that he forged his friendship with Jefferson. During his time in London, Adams wrote Defense of the Constitution of the United States, which emphasized a strong executive branch of the government, bipartisanship in the legislative branch, and the principle of checks and balances. He eventually returned to America, and was elected Vice President under George Washington in 1789.