After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Congress sent Adams to France to negotiate a treaty of alliance. He returned home in 1779 and drafted the Massachusetts Constitution (1780), then went back to France to negotiate a peace and commercial treaty with England. He was unpopular as a diplomat in Europe but managed to obtain Dutch recognition of U.S. independence and a $400,000 loan, and he played an important role in the ratification of the peace treaty in 1783. He was then appointed ambassador to England, where he wrote Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787), a three-volume political treatise defending mixed forms of government. When Adams returned to the United States in 1788, he was very popular and soon found himself on the 1789 presidential election ballot. He was easily defeated by George Washington, but, according to the electoral rules of the day, he was elected to the office of the vice presidency. In that office, to which he was reelected in 1792, he supported the major policies of the Washington administration, including Alexander Hamilton’s financial program, the Neutrality Proclamation (1793), the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion (1794), and Jay’s Treaty (1794). In the third presidential election (1796), Adams, who represented the Federalist interest, defeated Thomas Jefferson by a narrow margin and became the second president of the United States. Most of Adams’s presidency was consumed by avoiding a costly war with France. In working so hard to avoid the war, he alienated both Federalist and Republican support. That, combined with the unpopularity of the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), led to his defeat in the next presidential election. After losing the election of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson, Adams retired from politics and spent the remaining twenty-six years of his life on the family farm in Quincy, writing letters, commentaries, and his autobiography. While he did not refrain from offering his political views to friends and correspondents, as when he supported Jefferson’s embargo and opposed the Federalists during the War of 1812, he stayed out of political life and lived long enough to see his eldest son, John Quincy, elected the sixth president of the United States. In 1812, thanks to the intervention of Benjamin Rush, Adams reconciled with his old friend and political rival Thomas Jefferson. On July 4, 1826, the fiftyyear anniversary of independence, their friendship came to a sudden end. Adams, not knowing that his friend in Monticello had died earlier that day, breathed his last words: Thomas Jefferson survives. Michael Sletcher See also: Adams, Abigail; Boston Massacre; Massachusetts; Politics and Government (Essay); Revolutionary War; Document: Letters between Abigail Adams and John Adams (1776). Bibliography Ellis, Joseph J. First Family: Abigail and John Adams. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. Ellis, Joseph J. Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993. Ferling, John. John Adams: A Life. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992. Gelles, Edith. John and Abigail: Portrait of a Marriage. New York: William Morrow, 2009. McCullough, David G. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. Shaw, Peter. The Character of John Adams. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1976. Smith, Page. John Adams. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1962 1963.
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