Founding Brothers

What were the various collaborations?

Chapter 5: The Collaborators

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Ellis describes Adams as a “short, stout, candid-to-a-fault New Englander,” and Jefferson as a “tall, slender, elegantly elusive Virginian” (163). They complimented one another not only through physicality but also through personality. Adams was combative, often allowing his emotions to dictate his reactions. Jefferson always remained an enigma, always coolly detached. “They were the odd couple of the American Revolution,” which is precisely why they worked so well together (163). Their friendship and collaboration began at the Continental Congress and strengthened at the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, but was firmly cemented when they, as ministers to England, were snubbed by King George III during a formal ceremony.

In 1777, Adams accompanied Benjamin Franklin to Paris, where they hoped to negotiate an alliance against the British.

Madison was tactically campaigning for Jefferson. When the Federalists realized this, they attempted to level a propaganda campaign against the nascent Republicans, but Madison quashed it. Ellis suggests that while most of the political elite knew that Jefferson was going to run for President against Adams in 1796, Jefferson himself remained the last to know.

Adams had an equally formidable ally in his wife Abigail. Abigail knew her husband’s emotional and political potential, but she was also aware of his weaknesses. Throughout their marriage, and later during his Presidency, Abigail remained Adams’s greatest, and at times sole, collaborator.