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Who is John Adams?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: Camrocker, n/a, Mark Rasmussen, Trekandshoot, Georgios Kollidas, Imagine, Boston Public Library
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2018
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John Adams was not only the second president of the United States, but also its first vice president, which means he served in the White House for a period of 12 years starting in 1789. John Adams is considered one of the "founding fathers," and a key coordinator on the battle for independence.

John Adams was on 30 October 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts. He was the first of three sons, and had a lot of pressure from childhood to become an important figure. Adams graduated from Harvard University and started a career as a lawyer in a local office. He was 29 when he married, and eventually had six children, one of whom died at birth, and other who was eventually elected as a US president, John Quincy Adams.

John Adams first got involved in politics during the Stamp Act of 1765. The act, which required all official and legal documents, from wills to newspapers, to carry a tax stamp, was created by the Great Britain Parliament as a way to raise money to support the maintenance of the English military patrolling the colonies. John Adams, along with others, thoroughly opposed the Stamp Act, and got involved in a series of protests to repel it. This act gained John Adams the confidence of the Massachusetts government, which then sent him to the Continental Congress. There he acted as a representative to talk about the possibility of breaking ties with Britain. John Adams became even more prominent after writing and publishing "Thoughts on Government," a powerful political pamphlet on independence and social liberty.

Together with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and other important figures of the time, John Adams participated in the drafting of the US Declaration of Independence. He later also wrote, mostly by himself, the Constitution of Massachusetts. John Adams opposed slavery and was one of the driving forces behind the movement to liberate slaves.

John Adams played a very small part in politics while serving as vice-president, since Washington didn't like the idea of asking for counsel on official decisions. As president, however, John Adams worked incessantly on foreign policy and passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were created in order to protect the country from foreign offensive.

John Adams died on 4 July 1826 at the age of 90 at his home in Quincy. Thomas Jefferson, who was Adam's political rival throughout his whole career, died just a few hours before Adams.

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