Ever since I first heard about the HBO television series, John Adams, I have been waiting for it to come on UK television. At first I thought they probably wouldn't but then I heard rumours. But More 4 is starting the series on Saturday evening and it is supposed to be excellent.
John Adams has been a major hero of mine since I took American History as a junior in high school. He is the founding father who exudes the most integrity. He also stuck by his principles even though he knew that it would not necessarily be popular with others of his persuasion.
For example, he defended the men accused of the Boston Massacre because he believed that every man was entitled to a defence. To understand how brave this was, you need to know that Paul Revere and his cousin Sam were attempting to use the Boston Massacre as a tool to whip up anti British feeling. Paul Revere engraved a highly inflammatory print, purporting to show what really happened. In the event, John Adams managed to get the man accused acquitted.
He also had the good sense to marry a highly intelligent woman --Abigail Adams. It was a real love story and the breadth of their love is evident in the letters they exchanged.
He was one of the major causes of the American declaration of independence , but knowing that if he wrote the document, it would never get through, he convinced Thomas Jefferson to write it. He also wanted to celebrate other causes rather than himself -- such as the spirit of the American people.
His relationship with Jefferson is intriguing. They were friends who became bitter political rivals fighting for the soul of the country and eventually became friends again. By a fascinating coincidence, Adams and Jefferson both died on 4 July 1826.
However, there are many negative aspects to Adams as his willingness to defend others did not necessarily endear him to others. His presidency was beset with problems. But ultimately, at the end of his presidency, he did something that no president had done before (and something that many in global politics find hard to do today) he accepted the will of the people and left office after losing a bitter election. Would that there were more John Adams...
If anyone is intrigued by Adams, David McCullough's masterly biography -- John Adams is a good place to start. Anyway, I really looking forward to the television series and am so pleased that it has earned such critical acclaim.