Saturday, July 4, 2009
Happy "Screw you King George III!" day to those that celebrate it! In honor of one of the more fascinating events of the 18th century, I bring you the following Founder, John Adams.
During the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams was "obnoxious and disliked", as he later wrote, and it's not entirely hard to see why the Continental Congress got so pissed off at him, since his opinion of congress was equally dismal. "In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."
Adams was not generally one for aphorisms (that was Ben Franklin's forte and you bet he exploited it), but his letters to his beloved and generally kick-ass wife Abigail Adams have unexpected and enjoyable glimpses of wit. At one point he wrote, "I must not write a word to you about politics, because you are a woman." (ouch) He didn't let that stop him however/Abigail wasn't going to stand for that, even if his writings about politics got increasingly whiney:
"I have accepted a seat in the House of Representatives, and thereby have consented to my own ruin, to your ruin, and to the ruin of our children. I give you this warning that you may prepare your mind for your fate."
"My country has contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." (Adams got elected to be the first vice president. He was less than pleased he wasn't president.)
"The Declaration of Independence I always considered as a theatrical show. Jefferson ran away with all the stage effect of that... and all the glory of it." (No wonder these biffles stopped talking to each other for a couple of years! There are more complicated reasons behind it- Jefferson was a total Francophile (he was one of the first American ambassadors to France, save Franklin and Adams himself) and Adams decided not to help the French Republic against Britain (he was the first American ambassador to England, which the Amateur Historian believes must have sucked); the moralistic Adams was outraged by the rumors about Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, etc.- but this? Rawr, Adams, sheath your claws in this catfight!)
"No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it." (Dude was never satisfied!)