Today Is John Adams’ Birthday

Today is John Adams’ birthday. Special celebrations in Quincy, MA. Have to do the John Adams historical sites again soon, from which I only live 30 minutes away. Extraordinary man married to an extraordinary woman. They both sacrificed dearly for our country. No one reads Adams these days, though biographies about him are popular, as well as the PBS series. He had a more balanced vision than did Jefferson, though Jefferson was the better writer. Adams was a curmudgeon, but Jefferson could be downright mean and bear grudges beyond imagining. Read about what he did to Aaron Burr. Merciless. Jefferson’s love for the French Revolution was demented and his tolerance of the spilling of French blood just can’t be defended. Often in his writings Jefferson could be careless in overstatement, though in his actual governance he was much more guarded and conservative. Jefferson is one of those men you get to like less the more you know him, Adams the more. Martha Washington recalled that one of the most distasteful things in her life was the visit by Jefferson upon the death of her husband. I just picked up from the library “Lincoln and the Abolitionists: John Quincy Adams, Slavery, and the Civil War.” And here is the Eastern Nazarene College graduation address by David McCullough on John Adams. An absolutely stunning speech. I was there to hear it and walked away overwhelmed by both the content and oratory of it. It was indeed worthy of a Harvard address, and I was impressed by the effort he expended on behalf of us. It was word perfect without dependence upon notes, though he had them. The theme was love of learning. Some of the constituency complained that the speech was not religious enough for a Christian college. We had all feasted at an intellectually rich table, and I thought the complaint, though true, was shortsighted. It offered to Christian students, for sure, a sampling of what the life of the mind could mean for them. Surely this was a great contribution for those with ears to hear.

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