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John Adams by David McCullough Essays

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John Adams, by David McCullough


     The book, John Adams, by David McCullough, is a powerfully written biography of one of our nation’s greatest heroes. This biography explores Adams’ life in great depth, unveiling a side to his life unbeknownst to those who have never studied his life in great detail. Through diary entries, letters, and various other documents, the reader grasps a sense of what Adams’ day to day life was like, and is also able to grasp the enormity of his lifetime accomplishments.

     In the battle for independence from Great Britain, the founding forefathers of our country came together, uniting for a common cause they would end up fighting for with their lives. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and many others take part of this panoramic chronicle of Adams’ life, all coming together because of their devotion to their country.

     In particular, of these men, Thomas Jefferson especially is exposed, and his relationship with Adams is explored, as it is a crucial fluctuating one. Though born opposites, they forge a relationship as diplomats, and as close friends, only after meeting and working together, however. In a letter to James Madison, before Jefferson first went to France to work with Adams, he likens him to a poisonous weed. After becoming great friends in Paris, however he writes back to Madison, “He is so amiable that I pronounce you will love him if ever you become acquainted with him”. Later on though, as the advent of political parties comes into being, and during the intense struggle for the presidency of the election of 1800, the two become archrivals. Incredibly, after this, they become close friends once again, and amazingly die on the same day.

     The other relationship described in great detail was that which he shared with his wife, Abigail Adams. Through all the times he spent away from her, working arduously for the freedom he was so determined to secure for the thirteen colonies, they stayed strongly attached, and wrote numerous letters to one another, many of which are shared. He writes to her while in Congress, one time sharing with her, “We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not.” She encourages him, giving him her approval and support, in one letter writing, “You cannot be, I know, ...


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... to the realness of this man. This book was first published in 2001, in New York. Though probably released before the September 11 attacks, it is assurable that if it had been released after, the direct correlation of the American hero would be made of John Adams. I think that the author’s goal, in writing this book, is to present the reality of this particular co-revolutionary, which through all the primary documents especially, he was very successful in doing. The single most memorable thing that I learned about were the relationships that Adams had, with other familiar names. This book had really helped me to understand the happenings that went on in the life period of Adams, but also really just how all these historical co-revolutionaries and Founding Fathers were all related.

     On a whole, I found that the scholarly reviews of this book were very positive. Most of the responses of other scholars were those of praise and commendation on such a great book, an interesting and valid view on the life of John Adams.

Works Cited:

Gelles, Edith. “The Adams Phenomenon.” November 2001. http://
www2.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=284001005599191.(05 January 2002)


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