John Adams was one of the leaders in the fight for American Independence. He was born on October 30, 1735. His presidency began in 1976 through 1800 and was the second president of the United States, after winning the election against Alexander Hamilton. Upon winning the election he became the Chief of State. His most notable accomplishment, as President, was to avoid a war with France, while maintaining American honor. In our opinion he did a good job of this however he was not greatly supported by the Americans at the time.
John Adams was not a very popular president of his time. Being the president, and Chief Executive, Adams was allowed to choose his own cabinet. He replaced Washington’s cabinet which consisted of Edmund Randolph, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Knox, and William Bradford. Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts was appointed the secretary of state, Oliver Welcott of Connecticut became the secretary of treasury, James McHenry of Maryland became the secretary of war, and Charles Lee of Virginia was appointed the attorney general. It’s obvious that George Washington had a much better cabinet than Adams did. John Adam’s cabinet was not nearly as sharp or as intelligent as the one of Washington. Obviously, Mr. Adams did not do too good of a job on choosing his colleagues.
Another role that John Adams endured was the role as Chief Administrator. In today’s modern world the president would be in charge of agencies such as the CIA and the FBI. In Adam’s days these agencies did not exist. Nonetheless he was still in charge of keeping the government functions running as smoothly as possible. As a believer in centralized government, he helped strengthen the Federal government.
As Chief Diplomat, John Adams ran into the biggest problem in foreign policy. The French were attacking American shipping. He sent three representatives to France to try to work out differences between the French and the US government. His emissaries were met by three French representatives demanding a bribe. This became known as the “XYZ” affair.
Infuriated by the absurd 250,000 bribe of the French agents Adams began to prepare for war. He first asked for a provisional army. He also asked for the officers to be commissioned and for recruiting to begin. However, he did not call for an establishment of a large, professional army. Throughout the two years that the possibility of a war had existed, Adams had made it clear to everyone that he put he put his faith in a strong navy. As commander-in-chief he decided he did not want to use the army as an instrument for defense.
Adams believed that the only way France could be brought around to treat with American envoys on an even basis is if it was made clear that the Americans were prepared to fight and that they would not submit to any further humiliation. He wanted France to see that the Americans were not backing down and that they were not afraid to go to war with the nation of France.
After the “XYZ affair” John Adams acted on his role as chief legislature. He responded with The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. They were designed to crush the conflict. After two years John Adams decided it would be best to reopen negotiations because war with France was not in the best interest of the United States. He signed a peace treaty with France and thereof is accredited with bringing peace between the U.S. and France.
Yet another role of the president is to be Chief of Party. We believe that John Adams was a failure in leading his political party as the end of the Federalists came about because of his presidency. During Adams’ presidency, the Federalist party split up. This happened because of how much John Adams and Alexander Hamilton disliked each other. Hamilton didn’t want Adams to be re-elected, and so he critized his performance as a President. Undoubtedly, Adams lost his re-election and Thomas Jefferson, the leader of the Democratic-Republican party, won office. After Adams retirement, and Hamilton’s unfortunate death, the Federalist Party was left without strong leader and steadily grew weaker and weaker.
John Adams was not a bad president. However, because of society’s selfish and impatient needs, he was made out to be the enemy. Americans blamed John Adams for being scared to go to war, but in reality, it’s a lot easier to go to war than it is to keep peace. It’s also quite difficult to go against the majority of ones colleagues who continually pressure you to act. John Adams may not have been the greatest president because of his ambition. However, he was a much better president and showed exemplary qualities as a chief citizen than what he was given credit for. He was a brave and honorable man who gave up re-election by not going to war. It shows real honor when you can give up your own selfish needs for the good of your country. John Adams was a much better president than he was given credit for.