Lately, I’ve been getting into a lot of John Adams. My wife and I recently watched the multi-Emmy Award winning series. After that, I went to the bookstore and picked up both The Book of Abagail & John (which reprints their letters to each other during the Revolutionary period) and the David McCollough book, John Adams (which the miniseries was based on).
Mr. Adams may not have perfect, but the think that strikes you most about his various portrayals was how honest the guy was. Whenever he wrote, he was always speaking his mind, and when he spoke his thoughts, he put it into action. For example, there’s a part where he reads Common Sense by Thomas Paine. The book was taking the colonies by storm, fomenting the seeds of the Revolution. Adams liked the book, too, but the more he thought about it, the more he disliked it.
Paine, he thought, was great at tearing things down, but not so good at building things up. So he started thinking about what the government would look like in a post-Revolutionary world.
Adams wasn’t as brilliant a writer as Jefferson, or as natural a leader of men as Washington. But he was a guy who rolled up his sleeves to get things done, a man blessed with an amazing work ethic and an unflappable sense of justice. Ad we know he meant exactly what he said through the private letters he sent to his wife, Abagail.
It’s sorta depressing, though, to read about the Founding Fathers, and realizing that, in the current political climate, we have to assume that politicians are all liars. Not that it wasn’t in the case shortly after the Revolution, with the parties becoming formed and venomous literature being shared in the media on a regular basis. However, for a rather regular fellow like Adams to spend his life devoted to the brass tacks of founding a new country is nothing short of amazing.