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About John Adams

In addition to being a successful lawyer, a brilliant revolutionary, an able diplomat, and a reluctant politician, John Adams was a prolific writer. And his most influential writings were not intellectual exercises, but instead were reactions to events swirling around him:

-He wrote his Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law in 1765 in response to the British Stamp Act.

-He wrote his Novanglus (New Englander) essays between 1774 and 1775 in reponse to the British Parliament's claim that it had the right to tax the colonies.

-He wrote his Thoughts on Government in 1776 at the request of colleagues in the Continental Congress.

-He wrote the Constitution of Massachusetts in 1779 at the request of the Massachusetts Convention, due to his superior knowledge on government.

-He wrote A Defence of the Constitutions of Government, beginning in 1786, in reaction to the revolutionary rumblings in Europe and as a guide for those writing a new American constitution in Philadelphia.

-He wrote Discourses on Davila in 1791 in reaction to the French Revolution.

In addition to these writings, Adams kept a diary and wrote innumerable letters to his wife and just about every public official at the time, including, in his retirement, his famous letters to Thomas Jefferson and a series of letters to former senator John Taylor, explaining and defending his political and governmental theories.

A true New Englander, John Adams wrote as he spoke, and thus his writings have a directness and an honesty that are a valuable window not only to his mind, but also to the times in which he lived and to the principles for which he fought and struggled.