Overshadowed in his lifetime by Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, John Adams predicted obscurity, stating that “Monuments will never be erected to me.” But history remembers Adams—as the fiery patriot who defended the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre, as the author of the world’s oldest functioning written constitution, and as a diplomat who secured French and Dutch support and ultimately British recognition of American independence. Adams’s four years as President may be the least important of his long career. In those years, the young country fought a war against a former ally, and Adams–the architect of liberty–oversaw the Alien and Sedition laws to silence his domestic adversaries. Adams knew his legacy was too complicated to be turned into marble, and his character too interesting to be set in stone.
Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams, by Joseph Ellis
John Adams, by David McCullough
First Family: Abigail and John Adams, by Joseph EllisLink to the Adams Papers, at the Massachusetts Historical Society: