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Two July 4 Heroes: Part I

iStock_000005179418XSmallWe celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, parades, cookouts, and other types of revelry.  Many people are off from work, and a discernible joy can be felt in the air.  But who made this day possible?

There are many individuals responsible for Independence Day.  Two people we will observe are John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. These men gave of their time, intellect, and talents for the birth of a nation.  Because of their remarkable contributions, they will forever be etched in the American landscape.

First let’s look at John Adams.
John Adams was an intellectually curious man born in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts.  His manner was no-nonsense, and he was sometimes regarded as blunt.  He graduated from Harvard in 1755.  Adams actually has ties to Worcester, as he held a teaching position in the city following graduation.  He became restless and began studying law with the successful Worcester attorney, John Putnam.  Adams was admitted to the bar in 1758 and went on to involve himself in politics.  His sense of disenchantment with British rule intensified as time continued.

Adams married Abigail Smith in 1764, and the couple had six children; sadly, one son was stillborn, and another son, John Quincy Adams, would one day become the sixth president of the United States.  Like her husband, Abigail possessed a penchant for learning, and she was an enormous influence in his life.  Adams regarded his wife as a type of mentor and confidant.

Adam’s political ambitions resulted in much time away from his family.  Abigail was left to care for the family farm duties and parental responsibilities mostly on her own.  Even so, she was acutely perceptive and seemed to understand the significant strides her husband was making.  She accepted his call to duty with dignified grace.

Adams was a delegate for the First and Second Continental Congress and instrumental in the creation of the Declaration of Independence, although Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft.  As we know, the document states that the thirteen colonies, once subject to British Empire authority, were now independent states.  There are conflicting views as to whether or not the Declaration was actually signed on July 4, 1776.  Nonetheless, July 4, 1776, is the date the Continental Congress sanctioned its contents.

Adams was elected vice-president for two terms under George Washington.  In 1796, he became the second president of the United States; he beat out Thomas Jefferson by only a slim margin.  At that time, the two candidates possessing the most votes would become president and vice president respectively.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson grew at odds with one another over various issues.  For example, Adams was a Federalist who favored a strong government, and Jefferson was more supportive of states’ rights.  Adams served only one term as president; Jefferson beat him the second term to become the third president of the United States.  Still, Adams forever left his mark in the founding of a nation.

Next time we will look more closely at Thomas Jefferson.  Interestingly, he and Adams came to reunite their friendship in their older years.  Until then, though, Happy Fourth of July!

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