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03 July 2011


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What makes John Adams the most important president has to do with him going home after being defeated for re-election. At that time, it was unheard of for a head of state to do so. Much less allow an election.

Does he has some warts? They all do.

William R. Cumming

Like many others Adams was not the "man"of history his wife was!


might a Memorial constructively remind us of his flaws & contributions? as my Mom used to say, "it takes all kinds..."

Indy Ike

Adams was the first president to step down after an election loss.
Credit due, but to the extent deserved.

Washington was the first to stand for re-election, so that was heard-of. He also was the first to step down voluntarily. Washington also retired to Mount Vernon after the war rather than be a Cromwell or Napoleon; I don't think it utterly farfetched that he might have pulled off something like that. If there is a prototype for such prudent self-limitation, it was GW. One of my favorite things about him.

Adams is a mixed bag for me. A lot of really good stuff there but he really screwed the pooch by signing those abominable acts. He had an authoritarian streak that has always given me gas. Causes me difficulty seeing an Adams mall memorial approaching the scale of Washington's or Jefferson's, but maybe something somewhere.


I just dislike the "One blunder" formulation the author of the article uses. Whenever you see someone writing that in a biographical piece chances are they're about to explain away a some nasty, stupid or corrupt action, almost always taken deliberately, that reveals an unpleasant personality trait in their chosen subject.


If you tally in Adams' service to the nation before his presidency I think you can justify a monument. He did very well to foil Hamilton's energetic efforts to get us into war. The Alien and Sedition Acts are indefensible but he did feel guilty enough about them to blame them on Hamilton and the Congress. Personally he represented some of the best and worst of the Puritan spirit that did so much to form this country.

Adams may have liked the idea of "excellency" but even Washington initially chose to style himself "His High Mightiness,' causing the Speaker of the House to suggest as an alternative "His High and Mightiness."

Patrick Lang


I suppose that my New England Puritan ancestry prejudices me against Adams.

"You may be whoever you resolve to be." TJ Jackson

Medicine Man

Indy Ike:

Washington was quite an interesting figure. He would have been wholly keeping to the spirit of his times if he had decided to grasp for the reins of power himself, but he didn't. In a way the fledgling United States was as much served by the man George Washington wasn't than the man he was.


Is it possible Washington was pulling Congress' leg with his title of choice? Did he have a sense of humor?

bill roche

Dear correspondents
I was for Washington before I was against him. I learned he made some stupid mistakes. Then, after learning more, I was for Washington even more. He learned from his mistakes, was very brave, had a temper, and had a heart. He was the indispensable man after all. Would it change anyone's mind (Pat) about Adam's signing the Alien and Sedition Acts to know that Washington agreed with Adams about it? He did. Still, Adams advocated for it and Adams signed it. I stain on his record to be sure. But,like Washington, Adams public life is the totality of his patriotic work.
Bill Roche

Patrick Lang

Bill Roche

Washington's agreement over the A&S acts was just as shameful as Adams' signature. pl


Medicine Man, I guess it’s possible that Washington was just having a bit of fun, given what seems to be the obvious drollery of “His High Mightiness,” but as far as I know he wasn’t much of a kidder. It took a fair amount of criticism before he dropped the notion.

This doesn’t mean Washington had any secret monarchist tendencies. Had he wanted to be King George I of America or to attain a de facto kingship as president for life he likely could have done. It has crossed my mind that he might have considered a different course of action if he’d had a son to succeed him, but that’s pure idle speculation.


An interesting essay on why Washington might have turned down the crown:


"Washington realized that, as the conquering hero of his era, there was no one left on earth for him to advance past — he'd beaten the level. Henceforth he would be competing in the pages of the history books against the likes of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. By accepting monarchical power, even if he ruled wisely, he could at best rise into their ranks. To pass them in history's judgment, he had to add saintlike virtue to his résumé."

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