Thomas Jefferson and the Constitution

Not only was John Adams not present at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, neither was Thomas Jefferson. Although Jefferson had sent his good friend, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, trunk-loads of books about government for use in preparing for the Constitution.

Why wasn’t Jefferson there? He was in France, from where he sent those books to Madison. Why was he in France? Because he was sent there by Congress to join Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in preparing the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War. Adams went to England and Franklin returned home to Pennsylvania after that treaty was signed. read more

John Adams and The U.S. Constitution

History teaches us that John Adams was not at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. That’s right, he was not there. He was in Great Britain at the request of Congress to try to enter into a new treaty of commerce with the nation we had just defeated in the Revolutionary War.

As you can imagine, Adams was not very well received by the British! He was shunned, ignored, and given no attention to his requests for a treaty. John wanted very much to be at the Convention. After all he had created or written the new Constitution for the new State of Massachusetts. He was most interested in helping with a new Constitution for the new American nation. But no. Congress asked him to stay put in England. read more

The Founding Fathers and Religion

In the early years of our American nation, religion fared very well even in the Supreme Court. Joseph Story (1779-1845) served as a Supreme Court Justice at the age of 32. He was the youngest to serve in that position. Her served from 1811 to 1845. He wrote several remarkable decisions of the High Court. The most memorable was the Amistad decision (now a movie), which he read out loud in the Court.

Here is a remarkable statement that he made during his tenure on the Court.

“The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to Him for all our actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues;–these never can be a matter of indifference in any ordered community. It is indeed difficult to conceive, how any civilized society can well exist without them.” read more

Virtue Discussed by Adams and Washington

John Adams, our second President, believed adamantly in Virtue and Religion. He said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In other words, a virtuous people can maintain our best Constitutional form of government. But without virtue, no written document can protect the people from themselves

George Washington underscored this thought in his First Inaugural Address’ “. . . No Wall of words, no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.” read more

The Founding Fathers and Education

The Founding Fathers agreed that education was the most important way to teach virtue, shape character, and mold citizens. The “best means of forming manly, virtuous, happy people, will be found in the right education of youth.” And as George Washington wrote: “Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion must fail.”

Moral education should begin when the first habits and manners were established. That’s why they supported public education. “Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. The education here intended is not merely that of the children of the rich and noble, but of every rank and class of people, down to the lowest and poorest. It is not too much to say that schools for the education of all should be placed at convenient distances, and maintained at the public expense.” (John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America”, a two volume work which was next to the Bible the most often quoted work at the Constitutional Convention.) read more

The Declaration of Independence

I haven’t checked this out myself yet, but I’ve been told that the word Independence, although it’s in the title, is not in the body of the document. How can that be? Time to read it again.

It should be noticed that of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, only two went on the become Presidents of the United States of America. And they were the two who had the most to do with the writing and adoption of that historic document. Those two were Thomas Jefferson (3rd President) and John Adams (1st Vice President and 2nd President, to serve only 1 term). read more

Independence Day

It’s coming up. Look for it in your neighborhood. John Adams gave us some advance warning of what he thought would and should transpire on July 4th each year (only he thought it would surely be July 2nd—the day the proposal to break with Great Britain was agreed upon). The Declaration itself would be approved and ratified on July 4.

John Adams wrote to Abigail: “Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among Men . . . The 2nd day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha [sic], in the History of America – I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews [sic], Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” (“Abigail Adams, a Biography”, 1987, by Phyllis Lee Levin, pages 90-91. Capitals as in the original.) read more

John Adams and Faith

The Founding Fathers were men of wonderful and noble faith. You only have to read a selection of some of their writings to get a glimpse into this. John Adams was one who believed that the new nation should be an example of piety and righteousness to the world. He relied on Providence for help in his career. Providence was a popular appellation for the Heavenly Father out of respect for his name.

John Adams wrote in a letter to Abigail: “But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as faith may be, I firmly believe.” read more

The Founding Fathers and Language

When you read the writings of most of those who were considered to be Founding Fathers of our nation, you may be surprised at the wonderful use of the English language, the expressionism, the wisdom repeated in beautiful prose.

But not all the Colonists spoke or wrote that way. Sam Adams for one, used some course language to get his points across. Jefferson was at his finest in his writings, as we see from The Declaration of Independence, which he wrote without books or reference materials.

John Adams was creative and artistic in his use of words. He once explained to Abigail that he wanted to write a book to express his feelings and knowledge about the new Constitution which was being written while he was a diplomat to Great Britain. read more

John Adams Keeps Working

In his elder years John Adams and Thomas Jefferson rekindled their friendship. They carried on a correspondence that covered every known topic. They were both very learned gentlemen and together they had accomplished more than anyone could have expected. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence without books or reference materials. John Adams carried the day at the convention by his forceful power of speaking.

They continued their association in letters and wished they could actually spend some quality time together, but never were able to. John Adams’ wisdom on this friendship is contained in these words of his: “Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.” read more