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John Adams By Author David McCullough

Ms. Venegas believes reading is essential for understanding the rapidly changing world. She enjoys sharing books with others.

One page from John Adams; a hefty 650 page book.

One page from John Adams; a hefty 650 page book.

David McCullough's historical biography "John Adams" is entertaining and an education for the patriot and the student of today. All the foibles of human nature and political nastiness were as real and active then as now.

The portraits McCullough develops in his book about the Second President have enough depth to bring their personalities to the fore. One is not stuck with events only. You are taken to the beginning of the nation and get to know its Founding Fathers, and a little known President who is not studied by children in elementary school.

I could not help but compare those political times and the present. After I read the book I imagined a man that got angry and expressed his views intellectually. He road a tide by following George Washington, but was honored to be President. As reelection approached he was ostracized by the pundits and his long time friend, Jefferson, and was considered "mad". There is much to learn in reading this book.

I have included on this page links to web sites that young people would enjoy and can use for their internet studies on the Second President.

Use this page as your hub for getting acquainted with President John Adams. May I mention that this book by McCullough has 889 5* Star ratings on the Amazon customer review section. This book is good.

John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams by David McCullough

Biography by David McCullough

John Adams Biography

This book is so readable that over 800 people had to write a 5* review.


The Second President Of The United States

by David G. McCullough

John Adams was the first President to live in the newly constructed White House. He arrived with his nephew and personal secretary Billy Shaw, and his long time servant James Breisler on November 1st, 1800. Only two project commissioners and a few construction workers were there to greet him and his traveling party.

The house was surrounded by rubble and weeds; the plaster and paint were still wet on the walls. Only a temporary staircase existed for accessing the second floor. And so, the President spent his first night in the new capital.

This unceremonious first day of the White House occupation is a good description of America's take on their second President, John Adams.

Second President, who?


John Adams Is Finally Appreciated

David McCullough Did His Research

If you enjoyed the John Adams HBO series, you will admire McCullough's book and especially John Adams' life and work for the U.S. In the interview of David McCullough, in the HBO issue of the book, he mentions that he first did research on a book about Jefferson and Adams together. Their lives were forever entwined during the fight for independence and until their deaths.

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Thomas Jefferson destroyed many of his letters. Not so, John Adams. There are thousands of Adams' writings available today. The trove is a rich legacy and provided a first hand study for the book, "John Adams".

McCullough found early on that John Adams was a most interesting and compelling founding father. Adams merited a thorough study of his own, and long over due. McCullough laments there is not even a statue in Washington D.C. to commemorate John Adams' Presidency.


10 Fun Facts about John Adams

from the McCullough Book


John Adams' descendants arrived in the New World in 1638 and went back four generations in Braintree, Massachusetts. They were farmers, deacons and officers in the militia. All independent country gentlemen with no bankruptcy committed. He was proud of all his American forebears.



In 1770 Adams was assigned to defend the British soldiers of the Boston Massacre. He won.



John Adams was a voracious reader and owned thousands of books. He believed education was a necessity for everyone. The well being of the citizens, and for the new country's government to work was dependent on an informed population.



The second President knew four languages, English, French, Latin and Greek.



The eight months leading up to the Declaration of Independence proved John Adams an unwavering proponent of independence. He earned praise from his fellow delegates.

Jefferson called Adams "our colossus on the floor. [His] power of thought and expression...moved us from our seats."

Benjamin Rush said, "This illustrious patriot has not his superior, scarcely has equal for abilities and virtue..."


Wikipedia Commons

Wikipedia Commons

Highlights of the Second President's Life


Adams would spend 10 years in Europe as commissioner of the new United States. Serving in France with Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, signing the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War.

In 1783 he traveled to Amsterdam for the new nation's cause and remained in England as envoy until 1787.



During his Presidency Adams built a solid navy presence and "took upon himself the responsibility of peace with France in the year 1800", avoiding a war he thought detrimental to the country.

He considered this his greatest accomplishment during his term as President.

John Adams The Official White House site about the Presidents.



Adams ancestral home was named Peacefield. Sometime during the 1800 Presidential election Adams started calling it Stonyfield. His second term was lost to Thomas Jefferson. After his retirement from a lifetime of public service John Adams worked hands on at his farm and many times he worked alongside his employees .



He rode horseback till 85 years old and reveled in daily events such as a cold spring storm. Describing a scene from his window he wrote, "The earth was never more universally covered with snow, and the rain had frozen upon a crust on the surface which shone with the brightness of burnished silver. The icicles on every sprig glowed in all the luster of diamonds. Every tree was a chandelier of cut glass. I have seen a Queen of France with eighteen millions of livres of diamonds upon her person and I declare that all the charms of her face and figure added to all the glitter of her jewels did not make an impression on me equal to that presented by every shrub. The whole world was glittering with precise stones."

He was humorous and showed a pleasant disposition to visitors and household alike.



Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had spent many years in correspondence during their later years. Both died the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.

I have wrote a brief assessment or feature about each site.

    This link is good for young people. All the Presidents are here. POTUS=Presidents of the United States
  • Health of the Presidents
    This site gives health of the Presidents. John Adams entries are interesting and we can get a good sense of the medical practices and fads at the time. I found the "erratic" entries interesting, because during his Presidency he was accused of madness
  • Wikiquote
    Wikiquote has a long page devoted to John Adams quotes. There is much to glean from. He wrote thousands of letters to his wife Abigail alone. He wrote to her, "You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first."
  • The Religious Affliiation of Second U.S. President
    What were this Founding Father's beliefs?

A John Adams' Video

TeacherTube Videos

This video matches the assessments I read in the bio "John Adams" by David McCullough, lighthearted and direct. An actor is John Adams and he talks about Independence, the Boston Massacre and the French situation during his Presidency.

He also says how, yes, he John Adams, sometimes talks too much, and may have too much passion, so much so, that some of his enemies want him to go away.

4 minutes long.

You can see it at John Adams and the Boston Massacre, John Adams Video by TeacherTube Videos.

Three Quotes From John Adams


"Public business, my son, must always be done by somebody. It will be done by somebody or other. If wise men decline it, others will not;

if honest men refuse it, others will not."

— John Adams

"Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it."

— John Adams

"Whether they be old or young, rich or poor, high or low, wise or foolish, ignorant or learned, every individual is seen to be strongly actuated by a desire to be seen, heard, talked of, and approved and respected."

— John Adams

Get A John Adams Quote on Almost Anything at Zazzle

Customize your favorite John Adams quote at Zazzle. Many of his musings and writings are relevant for today and touch on convictions, religion, government, education, books and reading.

David McCullough Talks About John Adams HBO Series

Although this was made for the John Adams HBO series it gives good highlights of John Adams work for the U.S.

John Adams HBO Music - Sit Back and Turn Up the Volumn

Music by Rob Lane

As you listen remember what the 18th century was like and how our liberty seekers ended up on King George's hanging list, including (that's right) John Adams.

May everyone forever use their voting rights with fortitude, conviction and a thoroughly educated stance.

Besides liking the title track instantly the reviews on Amazon about the CD are raving about this music. I suggest reading a few reviews. This could be a good tie in for a music study at home.


Historian David McCullough

David McCullough has written many books of U.S. history. He has narrated history documentaries and received both the Nation Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize twice.

Read Amazon's David G. McCullough Page and see the two video's narrated by him about the TV series and about Adams' life at Peacefield.

I Now Admire John Adams

It is true this John Adams biography largely sympathizes with him. He had a tendency to be irrational and prone to sudden rage which made for bad press during his Presidency. In his retirement these irrationalities disappeared. Being President, I imagine, was stressful.

The qualities I find likable were his ability to socialize with any class of person. He was comfortable in road taverns and learned to like and admire Parisian society. He reveled in tasks on his farm working beside his employees. The Adams family did not own slaves. He believed in being professional and decorous in his political work, without being stuffy, no matter his personal opinion of fellow politicians.

I get a sense that he was adventurous, dedicated to his principles of justice and would not shrink from a challenge. He always felt compelled to be present and on the job.

Reading the John Adams bio and seeing the John Adams HBO series, one after the other, will take you to the late 18th century and give you a new understanding of the beginnings of the nation.

The book is written as a study of a President. I rate it in the G category, very readable and acceptable for all ages. Milder than the John Adams HBO DVD series. It is written in a personal matter and leaves for other researchers the analysis and importance of Adams many writings. A high school reader, and many cases, middle school reader, would find this easy to read.

What an insight this biography is. I hope I have a continued spark for life as this President did?


All quotes and material from,

McCullough, David. John Adams. New York, NY:Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2001.

© 2008 Sherry Venegas

Have you read John Adams - by David McCullough?

Sherry Venegas (author) from La Verne, CA on June 11, 2014:

@paulahite: Yes, after reading the book, Adams became my favorite President. In the Washington bio by Chernow he is called snobbish. My take was he was impetuous despite the book learning.

Paula Hite from Virginia on June 11, 2014:

I have read this book twice and watched the series on HBO. I love this guy and more importantly - his wife! They were quite something....

lesliesinclair on September 22, 2012:

This is a terrific resource for students.

Harriet from Indiana on February 20, 2012:

My goodness this was a great lens. I learned so much and I envy that the people of Adams' time had the opportunity to live during the pivotal moments in American history and with such a great man at the helm. Thank you for reminding us how important our voting rights are and how much of a difference they can make.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Paso Robles, CA on February 20, 2012:

I have this book sitting on my shelf. You've made me want to read it. A very good job of introducing a little-known president to this generation.

anonymous on February 20, 2012:

I read it about two years ago and it is a remarkable book. In addition to learning about Adams, the book taught me a lot that I didn't know about Jefferson, Franklin and other founding fathers. I haven't seen the HBO series - your lens has reminded me to put it in my Netflix queue. As I visit your lens today, it is Presidents' Day - hope you are enjoying the holiday!

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on December 22, 2011:

Most of us outside of USA know only who the first USA president was (and who the current is). It is good to know history (not only USA's) is full of great persons and your lens is great proof of that. Thanks for sharing!

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on December 01, 2011:

I am definately putting this book about John Adams on my list of books to read!

poutine on September 18, 2011:

Did you read "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

by Walter Isaacson ?

I did, and it was very enjoyable.

anonymous on August 28, 2011:

John Adams is my third cousin and one of my favorite American Revolution people. Brilliant mind. I read the McCullough book and enjoyed it a lot.

I just created a lens with polls on the 2012 issues. Things will be getting interesting for the next 14 months or so.

Julianne Gentile from Cleveland, Ohio, US on December 31, 2010:

I haven't read this yet, but I'd like to. I'm always intrigued by John Adams because I was told that he is one of my ancestors. I don't know if it's true, but it caused me to be very interested in his life story. Happy New Year!

LabKittyDesign on October 12, 2010:

Would also throw in a recommendation here for the HBO miniseries. Very well done.

Eliza Rayner from Boulder, Colorado on November 04, 2009:

excellent historical lens, I watched the mini series and loved it, I really didnt know too much about John Adams previously, thanks for the info!

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on July 22, 2009:

I haven't read the book yet, but I love to read about former Presidents. i did read David McCulloughs book on Truman. I'll have to read this one. Thanks for the great information. 5*

papawu on June 01, 2009:

I know this is my second visit, but it just amazes me how much Adams still permeates the topics of conversation and media today. I have actually done quite a bit of reading on this great man and have found he was a man of formidable character, although a bit puritanical.

DougP LM on April 29, 2009:

Good job! I listened to the unabridged audiobook, and also found it to be inspiring. What most awed me was the sacrifice involved in crossing the Atlantic a few times, and being away from his family and homeland for a number of years.

anonymous on March 16, 2009:

i am in the 8the grade and he is an outstandinq person

&& people should of been like him.*/;

gia combs-ramirez from Montana on February 16, 2009:

I loved the HBO really showed the starkness of the beginning of our nation.

dc64 lm on December 24, 2008:

I saw a documentary about John Adams on the History Channel. There was so much I didn't know about this amazing man, and it's nice to see you have found him to be amazing too.

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