Amid all of the reactions and gifs and videos on social medial today, it was a single tweet of thirteen words from a man and writer that I respect that struck me the hardest.
“Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.”John Adams, “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law”
John Adams took his last breath on July 4, 1826, on the fiftieth anniversary of his – and his fellow revolutionaries’ – greatest achievement.
Of all the hand-wringing about our current state of politics, a major complaint is that today’s voters choose personality and attitude over policy and ability. However, students of history know that this has been the case for centuries in America, almost from its inception.
“I am but an ordinary Man. The Times alone have destined me to Fame — and even these have not been able to give me, much…Yet some great Events, some cutting Expressions, some mean Hypocrisies, have at Times, thrown this Assemblage of Sloth, Sleep, and littleness into Rage a little like a Lion.”John Adams
I have a vivid memory – so clear that it’s like a snapshot – of sitting in an American Revolution class junior year as my professor, a brilliant man and a wonderful teacher, kept extolling the virtues of George Washington and juxtaposing them with John Adams, whom he referred to as “curmudgeonly” and “acerbic.”
That’s all I needed to hear.
“He saw the whole of a subject at a single glance, and by a happy union of the powers of reasoning and persuasion often succeeded in carrying measures which were at first sight of an unpopular nature.”–Benjamin Rush
I imagine writing a book about John Adams in the 2010’s would be a daunting task.
At first glance, it appears that there is significant difficulty in writing about a member of a revered, almost mythical, group that died nearly two centuries ago.
It’s a fascinating thought exercise to trace how the leader of the United States of America evolved from George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to Donald Trump.
“I’m out for presidents to represent me.”