1797 - 1801
John Adams, the second President was born in Braintree, Massachusetts (now Quincy, Massachusetts), the eldest son of a farmer and shoemaker. John Adams was sent to study for the ministry, but after graduation he gave up the idea and turned to the law.
John Adams married Abigail Smith in 1765. They had five children. In 1765 John Adams argued against "Taxation without Representation" which he thought illegal, and five years later his reputation was so secure that he defended the British soldiers who fired on civilians in the "Boston Massacre".
John Adams took part in the Massachusetts Congress and the Continental Congress. In 1777 John Adams was appointed a commission (liason) to France. Missions in Europe took most of his time for the next ten years.
John Adams got Holland to recognize "American Independence" and to lend the Congress a large amount of money. He was later one of the commissioners in Paris, France (liason along with Arthur Lee (Robert E. Lee's Uncle) and Benjamin Franklin who arrived six weeks later) to France, who carried on the peace negotiations with England. He suffered a difficult time as minister to England and did not get along with Arthur Lee so he resigned in 1789 and returned home to America.
When President George Washington was elected, John Adams, having the second highest number of votes, became President Washington's Vice President. John Adams failed, he was miserable in the position, in which he had no duties except presiding over the Senate.
When President Washington refused a third term, John Adams became the candidate of the "Federalists" (later the "Whig Party" and ultimately the "Republican Party" under President Lincoln). John Adams opponent was non other than Thomas Jefferson, leader of the group known then as the "Democrates - Republicans", which later became "Democrates". After a bitterly fought campaign, John Adams ws elected with only a three-vote "Electoral Majority". His Vice President then became Thomas Jefferson who was the next in line with the most votes.
In 1798 France was at war with Great Britain (originally "Britania" under the conquering Roman Empire). France insisted, as Great Britain did, on her right to take over American ships on the high seas. Many people, led by Alexander Hamilton, wanted to go to war with France.
John Adams did not agree with Alexander Hamilton, but he did build a large fighting Navy which captured eighty-four French ships in an undeclared war. At the height of the angry war discussions, Congress passed and President John Adams signed the "Alien and Sedition Acts", which ruled that the President could banish any alien from the country and jail editors who wrote against the President or Congress.
The people were furious at this act, which abolished freedom of speech and the press. Southern Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, passed resolutions saying that a state could "nullify" any law it believed was unconstitutional.
President John Adams support of the "Alien and Sedition Acts" defeated him for re-election. Alexander Hamilton was successful in getting President John Adams out of office and electing Thomas Jefferson. President John Adams died at Braintree, Massachusetts in 1826 on the fiftieth anniversary of the "Declaration of Independence".
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