In 1776, at the time of this letter John Adams was the representative for Massachusetts in the Continental Congress. He was writing to George Wythe, representative for Virginia, who was America's first professor of law and a supporter of the Declaration of Independence. Adams cites need for a system of checks and balances, an idea that he came back to when writing the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
My dear Sir,
If I was equal to the task of forming a plan for the government of a colony, I should be flattered with your request, and very happy to comply with it; because, as the divine science of politics is the science of social happiness, and the blessings of society depend entirely on the constitutions of government, which are generally institutions that last for many generations, there can be no employment more agreeable to a benevolent mind than a research after the best.
Pope flattered tyrants too much when he said,
"For forms of government let fools contest, That which is best administered is best."
In 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected to become the first President of the United States of America. According to early protocol, the man who received the most votes from the electors would be nominated President, while the man who received the second most would become Vice President. Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s secretary during the American Revolution wanted to make sure that Adams did not get so many votes as to prevent a serious challenge to Washington. So, Hamilton worked tirelessly through the winter to make sure that electors cast their ballot for the revolutionary war hero.
On April 13, 1789, Adams departed his native Braintree for New York where he would assume the duties of Vice President, second in command only to George Washington. It was a proud moment for John Adams. Passing through Massachusetts and Connecticut, he received a warm welcome from his supporters. In Hartford, Connecticut, Adams was presented with a bolt of broadcloth that he would use for his inaugural suit.
ADAMS, John, second president of the United States, born in that part of the town of Braintree, Massachusetts, which has since been set off as the town of Quincy, 31 October 1735; died there, 4 July 1826. His great-grandfather, Henry Adams, received a grant of about 40 Acres of land in Braintree in 1636, and soon afterward immigrated from Devon shire, England, with his eight sons. John Adams, the subject of this sketch, was the eldest son of John Adams and Susanna Boylston, daughter of Peter Boylston, of Brookline. His father, one of the selectmen of Braintree and a deacon of the Church, was a thrifty farmer, and at his death in 1760 his estate was appraised at £1,330 9s. 6d., which in those days might have been regarded as a moderate competence. It was the custom of the family to send the eldest son to College, and accordingly John was graduated at Harvard in 1755. Previous to 1773 the graduates of Harvard were arranged in lists, not alphabetically or in order of merit, but according to the social standing of their parents. In a class of twenty-four members John thus stood fourteenth. One of his classmates was John Wentworth, afterward royal governor of New Hampshire, and then of Nova Scotia. After taking his degree and while waiting to make his choice of a profession, Adams took charge of the grammar school at Worcester. It was the year of Braddock's defeat, when the smoldering fires of a century of rivalry between France and England broke out in a blaze of war, which was forever to settle the question of the primacy of the English race in the modern world. Adams took an intense interest in the struggle, and predicted that if we could only drive out "these turbulent Gallits," our numbers would in another century exceed those of the British, and all Europe would be unable to subdue us. In sending him to College his family seem to have hoped that he would become a clergyman; but he soon found himself too much of a free thinker to feel at home in the pulpit of that day. When accused of Arminiamsm, he cheerfully admitted the charge. Later in life he was sometimes called a Unitarian, but of dogmatic Christianity he seems to have had as little as Franklin or Jefferson. "Where do we find," he asks, "a precept in the gospel requiring ecclesiastical synods, convocations, councils, decrees, creeds, confessions, oaths, subscriptions, and whole cartloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days." In this mood he turned from the ministry and began the study of law at Worcester. There was then a strong prejudice against lawyers in New England, but the profession throve lustily nevertheless, so litigious were the people. In 1758 Adams began the practice of his profession in Suffolk County, having his residence in Braintree.
John Quincy Adams (1767– 1848) was the sixth President of the United States, and son of the second President, John Adams. The great majority of his life was spent in public service. This began at the age of 14 when he received a Congressional diplomatic appointment as secretary to the ambassador of the court of Catherine the Great in Russia. During his life he served as foreign ambassador to England, France, Holland, Prussia, and Russia, Secretary of State, a member of the U.S. Senate, President, and then 18 years as a member of the House of Representatives. He died in the U.S. Capitol on February 23, 1848.
His last words were: “This is the last of earth; I am content.” He could be content, for he faithfully discharged his duties as a public servant, and his devout Christian faith prepared him to face the eternal hereafter.