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John Adams: The Great American

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John Adams was born on October 19th, 1735 in Braintree Massachusetts to a family of farmers like a lot of New England folks were in his time considering many of the residents of Braintree were farmers, and like many of New England farm homes the one John grew up in had been in his family for a few generations. The Adams home was a typical little farm home with 2 levels, an upstairs consisting of 2 bedrooms, and the downstairs which consisted of a kitchen and a family room with a fireplace. The Adams’s were a deeply religious family as Johns dad was a deacon at the local church they attended, and Johns dad also worked as a shoemaker to provide for his wife and children. John’s dad had married later in life as his parents were in their 40s when he was born. John was the oldest 3 children, and he would spend time with his siblings helping out with chores around the farm, even playing outside like a lot of children in those days did. John was also into fishing and hunting like all farm boys were in his day, although he was considered a good student in school, being taught philosophy, mathematics, reading, writing, Latin and science, he often times would skip school just go fishing or hunting. John enjoyed going into the thick brush of the New England woods hoping to snare a squirrel or a rabbit.

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John’s dad was often very strict with him about his schooling, as much as John loved the life of a farmer. His dad hoped he would grow up to become a man with a more prestigious occupation like a clergyman. Johns father worked him very hard on their farm to show him exactly what it meant to be a farmer in order to prove his point to John, this work would involve being up before dawn, going out to cut fire wood in the deep forested region that surrounded their property, harvesting and planting crops, feeding the animals, re-shoeing the horses to only come back home at dusk. By the end of a hard day of working on the farm, John’s dad would ask him “How did you like that hard work today son?” John would reply in a tired tone “I like it well father!” then his father would reply back “Well I don’t like doing this at all, but I have to in order to provide for the family and you’re going to keep going to school understand!” To be sure that John would get a good education and not skip school anymore whenever he felt like it, John’s dad got his former pastor a man by the name of Rev. Joseph Marsh to tutor John, and John did respond to this change quickly despite how strict his new teacher was, after 18 months of being under the tutelage of Rev. Marsh, John was deemed ready to apply for admission to Harvard University at age 15 as it was normal for adolescent boys to be freshman at a university in this period of time. Harvard University was known as a regimentation in this period of time when few people men and not women attended college.

John was a fortunate young man to have been able to get accepted into Harvard as most boys who got into prestigious universities in his time usually came from more aristocratic backgrounds and generation or two of their families also attended Harvard which was practically nepotism for their sons to be accepted into the University. John found his social life at Harvard to be enjoyable despite how rigorous his studies were and the fact that he didn’t come from an aristocratic background like the other students did. A lot of the changes he had to deal with while at Harvard matured him in a very swift as well as positive way. By 1755 John Adams was in his senior year at Harvard, and he still had not decided on a career. His dad had always hoped he’d grow up to be a clergyman, however, John didn’t feel this was the way for him despite his strict Christian upbringing and devoutness, John also knew his short-tempered mannerisms would not be well suited for preaching from a pulpit, John also treasured his own independence which was something he wouldn’t get a lot of as a clergyman. The New England region was in a period of enlightenment at this time as many students at Universities like Harvard were being drawn into the careers of medicine and law, even though clergyman were still seen as highly regarded individuals. Towards the end of his senior year at Harvard John considered becoming a lawyer since unlike a clergyman he wouldn’t have to worry about working so hard to please everyone. John’s dad who was a deacon often viewed lawyers as people being more involved with themselves and less about their own clients.

Despite having an interest in a career as a lawyer, John at times found himself troubled for the reasons as to why he wanted to do this profession in the first place. John did have an avidity for wanting to be acknowledged as well as famous, some of these traits did concur with his religious upbringing. In the meantime, upon graduating from Harvard John was offered a job to teach Latin at the Worcester grammar school that was located west of Boston. John looked at this job as just a fleeting task until he figured out if he truly wanted to become a lawyer or follow his dad’s dream of him becoming a clergyman.

John did feel discontented with his current situation in life. Worcester wasn’t as big as Boston, and it didn’t offer a lot in the way of social opportunities as he enjoyed the social life of the Harvard campus a great deal. John eventually began to become that short tempered, strict schoolmaster like the ones he himself dealt with as a child, dealing with the daily mumbling of students barely capable of saying the alphabet in lisp type voices and having to properly teach them the pronunciation of the syllables of words or vowels. Eventually, John would view his pupils as boring, ignorant, and lazy with no motivation at all. The dull lifestyle of Worcester was reduced to just its social leaders as being friendly, John was often invited over to the homes of the town’s most important residents for tea or meals, socializing with them about the current events of the Boston region.

The dull lifestyle of Worcester was reduced to just its social leaders as being friendly, John was often invited over to the homes of the town’s most important residents for tea or meals, socializing with them about the current events of the Boston region.

Becoming a clergyman still was of little interest to John, the medical field in his opinion would mean a lot of unceasing work for little income and meager recognition. To John, the legal field Braintree also had suspicions about attorneys, viewing lawyers as people who caused more problems than they solved, and making themselves wealthy at the expense of other people’s poverty. A career as a lawyer would offer John more fascinating opportunities such as a road to the highly important offices in the state. John did find it hard not wanting to displease his dad, as many of the residents of his hometown of viewed lawyers in a negative way much like his dad. John was about to start his second year as the head-master at the Worcester grammar school, when he finally made the decision that he could no longer postpone his decision to study law. John was anxious to move on with his life and resolve his predicament, John even wondered if he could do well in his legal studies or debate in front of a jury. John hesitated to the very end with these questions on his mind, so in the summer of 1756 John made contact with a man by the name of James Putnam who was the head lawyer in the town of Worcester to start an apprenticeship in the legal field, despite not wanting to be a clergyman, he still kept his religious ethics with him as he vowed never to act unjustly in the courthouse once he finally became a lawyer as John believed practicing law didn’t dissolve any obligation or morality of religion. James Putnam offered to let John study under him, John left his job as the school-master of Worcester grammar school and moved into the home of James Putnam, paying him the money he saved from his job at the school to pay for lodging, and lessons from James Putnam.

The original settlers of New England who arrived a century earlier didn’t have lawyers. However, when the positive views of the British Commonwealth and love for them swiftly diminished along with squabbles, or when lack of trust came into the place. Then the legal profession took rise to handle any issues between the colonies. John himself would often debate that the purpose of an American working as a lawyer, would defend a nation whose rights had been desecrated. It was from these past experiences in New England that John brought his religious idealism into his chosen profession. John found that he was cut out for the profession of being a lawyer as he enjoyed the dramatic events of what occurred in a court-room while he was studying under James Putnam. By 1761 John Adams had finished his studies under James Putnam and had been admitted to the bar by the Massachusetts colony head court, and upon his completion of his legal studies returned to his hometown of Braintree to set up a small office, in which he would handle deeds, property taxes, and peoples wills. Whenever John was in court he often would take cases dealing with sexual assaults, libel, bastardization, John even ended up leading a protest against the pubs whenever the patrons would get into bar brawls outside and inside the pubs. John would eventually ended up being successful in the way of getting an ordinance to restrict the licensing of these pubs. There was another lawyer in the area that John came to admire greatly, his name was James Otis, who took part in a case involving the merchants of Boston revolting against the fact that their ships were being broken into and having cargo stolen from it.

The people who had been doing this smuggling of ships cargo were British customs officials who had actions that were authorized by the writs of assistance that were provided by the British Crown. Otis gave a speech in the trial that John took to heart, and even though this case dealt with a small matter of protecting these smugglers. It gave John a good impression about the limitations that the British authority in the colonies was supposed to have. In 1767 the British parliament presented a new legislation that would impose duties on products that were being imported into the American colonies. This new legislation insisted that the taxes on these products were too external rather than internal in how they were involved with foreign trading. John would argue against any type of taxation that was without consent and representation, as the British parliament was debating among its members the new laws that were yet to come into place on this legislation, So the British sent more of their troops to the American colonies to reinforce any laws on these new taxes, and stop any citizen who were dare opposed it. Many of the American colonists would dare to taunt these British troops, daring them to use their firearms against them after one boy was killed by gunfire from a British trooper, his funeral inspired more youth to throw rocks at these British soldiers. A mobbed of people yelled “KILL THEM” suddenly gun fire started leaving 3 men dead and 8 wounded. Among the 3 who were killed was mulatto by the name of Crispus Attucks who had joined the Caucasian colonists in luring the troops to fight. Crispus Attucks was then known as the first African American to fight for freedom.

Captain Thomas Preston who was the commanding officer that order the firing of those shots was arrested and given over to the city of Boston’s head court to be tried for the “Boston Massacre” Officers of the British military triumphed upon John Adams to represent Captain Preston in court. John accepted the offer, as he believed everyone had the right to fair trial, whether they were innocent or guilty, native or foreign etc., as his puritan upbringing influenced his ethics as a lawyer. John believed a lawyer needed to hold himself responsible to not only his country but also to the most high and most infallible committees in the role that he should act upon. Needless to say the citizens of Boston couldn’t understand why John would offer to represent a man like Captain Preston and if John was even truly dedicated to the love of the colonies. John and another attorney named Josiah Quincy were both producing witnesses on behalf of Captain Preston who testified that Captain Preston and his men have been intimidated into firing their muskets at those civilians. John relied a dramatic tactic involving racial profiling, which reminded the jury that among those who were killed consisted of mulattos and Negroes, Irish teagues, in other words low life type people, that these British troops had faced the Attucks boy who had the looks that would horrify any person. John also made a strong statement about a case for self-defense. By June 6th of 1767 a local election was held in the city of Boston as a position for the head court was now available. It was customary for the candidates not to do anything on their own behalf when running for an office. John Adams received 418-536 votes in the election for the court position.

It seemed that the fine citizens of Boston had come to terms with the realization that John Adams was the type of man needed to be on the court system as he didn’t play favorites with anybody. John had decided to avoid the embroilment of public matters and found himself content with an audacious profession that was patriotic in a sentimental way mixed with ignoring any slavishly active shares which he was often naturally encouraged and coaxed to assume. John had dedicated himself with a steady and almost incompatible amount of patience to the practice of his occupation. John recognized no object was superior to that, and that he always had been grasping the success of his accomplishments. John had been practicing law for a while now, and had more business in the Massachusetts state bar than any other man in the region. John believed that an admission upon a public career such as his own, would deprive him of the fruits of his labor, that he would become exposed to any anxiety or complications about personal danger to himself, his family or even ending up in poverty. Johns later recollected of his emotions upon taking this office as very pathetic. However, John solemnly with a feeling of steep self-sacrifice to his duties, along with a feeling of dark presentiment. John submitted to enter upon a public career which in the impenetrable future would prove to be burdened with such lavish rewards for his courageous nobility, and intellectual discrepancy. For John it was this first infiltration into the realm of public life that began to grasp him with a mighty grip which thankfully for him didn’t have a long lasting duration. As a few months after being elected to his new position Johns anxiety got the better of him as he began experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath.

Thankfully for John it was nothing serious but sadly this health issue caused him to step down from his position. By the spring of 1771 John decided to move back to his hometown of Braintree after his term as a court official was over, and even though John decided to return to his hometown of Braintree; he still viewed the residents of Boston as pleasant and thankful for his service to the city. John even wished he still had the power to do as much as he inclined, hoping God would allow him to do so again someday. But nevertheless John believed his wishes were inadequate, his endeavors unproductive, and catastrophic to himself. This health incident left John in a very sad state of mind, as would at times fall into moods that were wistful, as John enjoyed the thrill that his position had brought him. But it seemed his hope for God was good after all as by the fall of 1772 John’s health had re-established, and he came to the conclusion that he was still needed in the Massachusetts colony. So John returned to Boston and bought a house near the city court house. However, John promised himself to not get involved with public affairs of the town or colony, as he believed his own life, welfare, and family were too important to him, and was focused on making sacrifices for them. John felt he served his country and its citizens well, and that this recovery from anxiety was a blessing not to be taken for granted.

In 1774 the colonies were getting very tired of the tyranny that was being imposed upon them by the British monarchy. John had enjoyed very little solitude since he returned to Boston. John was once again called upon to get involved in public life again as he had no sooner escaped from the matters which he viewed as distasteful. But nevertheless John happily resumed to practicing his profession and the care for his personal interests which naturally were close to the core of an acute and frugal man that was produced in the businesslike environment of New England as it was in the time of John Adams. John also had a wife and children to support and as important as his family was to him; John still had to be active in the dark and dangerous political matters going on in the colonies during the year. John was now 38 years of age and still relatively young man, who was well-read in both public and private laws, he had a temperament that joyfully combined with boldness and prudence, John was also viewed as trustworthy, active, and exploding with energy about in the front ranks of his profession. By this year the population of all 13 colonies was same as the city of London England. The city of Paris had more than a million inhabitants, London had a million in a half inhabitants living in it, and Boston had around 15,000 inhabitants living in it. The colonies were up in arms as to whole would govern them. Places like Connecticut were viewed as being fairly democratic, New York was viewed as having people who were aristocratic in terms of social structures.

The upper class people of the colonial population was made up of merchants, clergy, lawyers, physicians, and any officials that were appointed by the British monarchy. Even though there was a rivalry between these different groups of people. The colonial assemblies were the ones who owned the majority of the land, were in charge of directing the commerce, sat in on the courts of the colonies, and controlled the credits as there were no banks in the American colonies at this time so it was the colonial assemblies that set the norms for things. The middle class colonies were places like Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas.

The middle class which was made up of farmers, shop keepers, carpenters, millers, printers, tailors, candle makers, tanners, shoe makers, sailors, fisherman, masons and so on. But all of these colonies would send representatives to Philadelphia to meet on September 5th, 1774. Among them were John Adams, Samuel Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, John Jay, Patrick Henry, James Madison and General George Washington. Even though these men came from different social classes and occupations; they all seemed to agree that everyone in colonies was just about fed up with the corruption of the British monarchy, and wanted the colonies to govern themselves at their own federal and local levels.

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Even the British monarchy allowed the colonies to make the laws it was up to the King to appoint the judges of these courts, and the only power that the people of the colonies would have over these judges was being able to control their income.

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