By: Ammar A, Sid B, Zixiao L, and Pranay L
John Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts on October 30, 1735. He was the eldest of three sons in the Adams family. His father was a Congregationalist Deacon, as well as a farmer and a lieutenant in the local militia. John’s mother was also of a respectable position, being a member of the prominent Boylston family, one of the most notable medical families of the colony. John Adams was also the descendent of the late Henry Adams, who was one of the founding Puritans who had a profound impact on the culture of the colonies, as well as an immense influence on the laws and traditions.John was a conservative, and a big advocate of Republicanism and the importance of self-governance. He believed in representation of the colonies in the British government, and later, the importance of fighting for autonomy from Britain. He viewed the British as being unfair towards the colonies due to the inadequate representation of the colonies, but was at first opposed to a war for independence. Adams was always devoted to the rights of the colonials, and believed that independence should only be considered as a last resort. He was a prominent leader of the colonial movement for independence, and wrote heavily, starting in 1761, against British measures that he believed encroached on the rights of the colonials. He viewed the taxes imposed by the British with disdain, and declared them invalid on the grounds that the Massachusetts Colony was without representation in Parliament. Adams was later elected as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses. He served on the committee responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence, and in 1779, he drafted the Massachusetts Constitution, which the U.S Constitution drew heavily upon. Adams was also responsible for nominating George Washington to be commander-in-chief of the colonials. Adams also served as ambassador to France starting in about 1777, and worked together with Franklin and Jay to draft the Treaty of Paris at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.
-John Adams displayed integrity as a lawyer and an advocate of colonial independence. He strongly believed that the British actions of “taxation without representation” were both morally and politically unjust. As a result of his steadfast and resolute morals, Adams, a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress, played a major role in convincing Congress to declare autonomy from Great Britain.
-Adams’ greatest display of integrity followed the Boston Massacre. For the sake of avoiding the arrest of an innocent guard, Adams defended the group of soldiers who fired upon the civilians. He later explained this unexpected advocacy by stating, “it is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, "whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection," and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”
-Adams is hugely famous for his judge of character. Unwavering in his moral values, Adams nominated George Washington to be Commander-in-Chief, and John Marshall to be Chief Justice of the US, seeing that both men had the perfect character and skills to undertake their respective roles.
-Adams showed great citizenship when he advocated freedom from Britain’s unfair political and economical policies towards his home colonies. Fighting for the rights of his fellow citizens, Adams convinced Congress to declare independence from Britain. He also helped Thomas Jefferson draft the Declaration of Independence. Without a strong sense of nationality and citizenship, Adams would not have been able to gather the courage to go against Britain, the world’s most powerful country at that time.
-Conversely, while demonstrating immense integrity, Adams did not display citizenship when he sided with the British soldiers who fired upon five civilians in the infamous Boston Massacre. By going against his own colonial "neighbors", he demonstrated that his loyalty was not completely with the American colonies, but rather with the overall rights of man and with justice.