“The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.”
Most people can name the first president of the United States, but who was the second president? John Adams did a lot for America, but is not always a figure that is studied and put in the spotlight. Yet, he was there alongside Thomas Jefferson when the Declaration of Independence was being written, he was an ambassador to France and England, served as a vice president and then also as president. Almost his entire life was spent in public service, often away from his wife and children.
I love learning about history, especially when I can do it by reading books that make history come alive. David McCullough always does a good job writing books that are well researched, but very readable. I decided to read John Adams this month as my biographical and historical book choice. I have read several of McCullough’s books – The Wright Brothers, American Spirit and 1776. I plan to read more of his books as time goes by.
John Adams is a thorough biography, going through his life from beginning to end and also giving details about the people who were important in his life. I not only learned about John Adams, but about his wife, Abigail, his children, his parents and in-laws, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush and Benjamin Franklin, among others in that time period. The Marquis de Lafayette and Napoleon Bonaparte make mentions in the book as well. It is a long book that requires a commitment to read, but it is well worth the time. I will remember now the order of presidents early on in our country and not just from memorization, but from learning about who these men were. One of the most interesting parts of the book to me was the relationship between Adams and his wife – they stayed faithful and in love even when Adams was across the ocean for years when he was an ambassador. He wished to die with her when she passed away, but lived several more years. He passed away on July 4, 1826 – 50 years after the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson died the same day, too.
I would recommend this book to anyone high school age or older who likes to learn about history or needs to learn about history. The writing style lets the reader delve into the world of John Adams, which will make the details stick.
What is your favorite time in history to read about? Comment below!