John Adams

[© 2017]

Explain Dominant Color Explain Auxiliary Color

The Green in this spiritual portrait represents John Adams' dominant personality trait, his rationality. In Extraverts, the dominant trait is directed outwardly, and spiritual portraits use a long vertical line to represent this, because it is the side of their personality that is most evident. He demonstrated this trait in the way he would often speak in a blunt, matter-of-fact manner, without regard for people's feelings.

The Blue in this spiritual portrait represents John Adams' auxiliary personality trait, his very slight preference for idealism. In Extraverts, the auxiliary trait is directed inwardly, and spiritual portraits use a horizontal line to represent this. He demonstrated this trait when he agreed to represent the British soldiers tried for their part in the Boston Massacre, when other lawyers refused to do so.

2nd President of the USA — Mar. 4, 1797 to Mar. 4, 1801

As the second president of the United States of America, John Adams was the only member of ....

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John Adams:
The Story

As the second president of the United States of America, John Adams was the only member of the Federalist political party to hold the office. He served only one term, losing the presidential election in 1800 to Thomas Jefferson.

Adams: Objective and Pragmatic Idealist

John Adams did not play favorites and was firmly grounded in reality. His objectivity is apparent in his willingness to represent the unpopular British soldiers who were put on trial for the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770.

Adams reveals why he was willing to defend the soldiers in this quote, delivered during the trial, which began on November 27, 1770:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
 — From the Boston Massacre trial, 1770.

As the following quote shows, though, Adams was ultimately an idealist:

Always stand on principle ... even if you stand alone.
 — John Adams.

Preserving Liberty

Like his fellow Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Adams realized how important general knowledge is to the presevation of the republic:

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers. Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees, of the people; and if the cause, the interest, and trust, is insidiously betrayed, or wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute other and better agents, attorneys and trustees.
 — John Adams, from A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765.

Americans are fortunate to have a system of government created by a group of well-educated, reasonable, and sincere Founding Fathers such as John Adams. As the second president of the United States and a leading figure in the Continental Congress, his contributions to the subsequent success of the nation are undeniable.

More About Jefferson and Hamilton

There are stories about Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton on There is also a fairly personal review of the books and videos used to create this and the other spiritual portraits of America's Founding Fathers on this site in Hamilton and Jefferson Were Both Awesome on

Hamilton and Jefferson were different in many ways — and these articles put their differences in a new perspective — so check them out today!

About This Portrait

This spiritual portrait is based on the book John Adams by David McCullough, the John Adams miniseries on HBO done in 2008, and the American Experience episode about John Adams done in 2006. All of these are excellent.

The HBO miniseries — which was inspired by McCullough's excellent book — contains seven episodes and has very high production values. The American Experience has historians and narrators who, like the book, provide more context than HBO's dramatization.

The two videos complement one another very well, and the book fills in any gaps they might leave.

David McCullough's book and both of these videos are entertaining and informative, and I highly recommend them all!