John Adams Dissertation

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From Adams's perspective there were two main problems that must be addressed by all republican constitution-makers.

The first was to find some kind of constitutional device by which to neutralize the vices, but also to draw out and up the talents of the exceptional few.

Shortly after the battles at Lexington and Concord, Adams began to argue that it was time for the colonies to declare independence and to constitutionalize the powers, rights, and responsibilities of self-government.

In May 1776, following Adams's leadership, Congress advised the various colonial assemblies to draft constitutions and construct new governments.

Zooming to the top of the bestseller list, Mc Cullough has done for Adams what Adams was never able to do for himself—make him popular!

Mc Cullough's thesis is as simple as it now seems undeniable: No one, not even George Washington, did so much for the cause of American independence as John Adams.

Adams most clearly enunciated what he meant by the "principles of liberty" in his 1765 essay, "A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law." The "Dissertation" is an essay in moral education; its purpose was to define and rekindle the American "spirit of liberty" in the shadow of the Stamp Act. Spiritedness for Adams united in body and soul certain "sensations of freedom" and certain "ideas of right." Adams sought to inspire the colonists "sensations of freedom" by imploring all patriots to recall the hardships endured by the first settlers in order to guarantee present freedoms.

On a deeper level, however, the revolution for Adams was about certain "ideas of right," and so he appealed to the colonists' reason, imploring them to study the philosophical foundations of their rights and liberties in the writings of Aristotle, Cicero, and Locke.

After twice serving as vice-president under George Washington, the American people elevated Adams to the presidency in 1796.

His greatest accomplishment as president was to navigate the nation through the political storm known as the "Quasi-War." In what Mc Cullough calls the "bravest" act of his political career, Adams (consulting no one) incurred the wrath of Republicans and his own Federalist party by sending a peace mission to France.


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