Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chris learns about John Adams.

Hello, friends.  Do you ever wonder about the Presidents of the United States? I mean, really wonder… Armed only with my trusty friend Wikipedia and a 3rd grade education, I will be tackling each of our nation’s Presidents. Physically tackling them. To the ground. For their lunch money. Today’s President is…

John Adams!

An early depiction of John Adams.
What do we know about John Adams?  Well, we know that he was first encountered under a bridge in Bavaria in 1759.  Herman Sibellius Guttall found Adams under a creek bridge while hunting on an adjoining property.  Adams creakily approached Guttall and asked him three questions.  These questions, unfortunately, have been lost to history.  What we do know is that Guttall answered the questions correctly and Adams vanished in a flash of crimson light.

A moment after John Adams disappeared in front of Herman Guttall, he reappeared mysteriously in the parlor of Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson was taken aback…and with good reason!  Adams was dressed in filthy rags and could only croak out a few monosyllabic words (most of the words having to do with gold or riddles or sucking marrow from the bones of wicked men).  Jefferson, as a man of science, took it upon himself to instruct Adams in the ways of civility.

A domesticated Adams.
Jefferson spent the next five years training Adams to be a proper gentleman.  Every night, Jefferson would instruct a servant to place a lavish place setting in front of Adams for the evening meal.  It took two years for Adams to control his urge to eat the servant.  It took two more years for Adams to refrain from crushing the dining table with his mighty stone fists.  By 1764, Adams was as civilized as any stone-fisted Bavarian bridge monster could be and Jefferson doted on him like a proud father.  However, Adams and Jefferson parted ways in anger after Adams broke Jefferson’s prototype dumbwaiter and then ate Jefferson’s favorite servant in an apoplectic rage.  The relationship between the two men would remain cool for many years.   

Adams, on his own now, found his way to Harvard and obtained a degree for himself.  Historical texts differ about Adams’s means for procuring this document.  Some say that Adams attended Harvard from 1751-1755 and was a serious, though temperamental, student and not a bridge troll at all.  Other scholars believe that Adams smashed a table and threatened the Dean of Harvard with the aforementioned bone marrow sucking.  Whatever the case, Adams was a Harvard alumnus in October of 1764 when he married Abigail Smith.

How you doin?
By all indications, John and Abigail had a very strong marriage.  The two were married for 54 years and never missed an opportunity to send each other letters when separated.  Abigail was as stubborn and opinionated as John.  She famously said, “My John may be a bridge monster but he is also a good man and I am attractive enough for the both of us.”  The couple had 6 children - among them future President John Quincy - and settled down in Braintree, Massachusetts.  Adams spent his time in Braintree as a lawyer and an aspiring politician.  When word of the second Continental Congress reached Adams in 1775 he leashed together 80 foxes and was pulled, by sled, to Philadelphia.  Adams stubbornly clung to his preferred mode of transportation even though many of the foxes were rabid and his sled traveled poorly during the summer months.

While at the Continental Congress, Adams sagely nominated George Washington to be commander-in-chief during the coming war.  Adams was also a begrudging supporter of Thomas Jefferson, even though animosity still existed between the men.  Adams insisted that Jefferson include an advertisement for “John Adams’s Famous Fox Pulled Sleds” in the Declaration of Independence.  Jefferson balked at this proposal and the two men escalated their disagreement into a feud that would last well into their old age. 

During the last years of the revolution, Adams was twice dispatched to Europe by Congress.  Due to Adams’s eccentric sleeping habits, he made both transatlantic voyages sealed in a wooden coffin.  Adams’s arrival in France on a foggy evening made a significant impression on young Abraham Stoker who would later regale his son, Bram, with the story.  You might know Bram Stoker’s famous novel: The Time My Father Told Me About Seeing John Adams Get Out of a Coffin One Time.  Eventually, Adams was appointed the first American ambassador to Great Britain.  Upon meeting his former ruler, King George III, Adams remarked, “I must avow to your Majesty that I have no attachment but to my own country.”  King George responded, “You are clearly a bridge troll.  Does nobody else see this?”  Adams was frustrated that the King did not take him seriously and boarded the next ship home.

John Adams's Famous Fox Pulled Hacky Sack
Upon returning to America, Adams was elected the first Vice President of the United States.  Realizing that he had an opportunity to shape the Vice Presidency in any way he saw fit, Adams decided that all future VP’s should “just kick it” because “that’s why we have a President.”  It was during his Vice Presidency that John Adams invented the Hacky Sack, which he called, “John Adams’s Famous Fox Pulled Hacky Sack.”

After two terms of “snapping necks and cashing checks” as the Vice President, Adams threw his hat in the ring for the big job in 1796.  John Adams narrowly defeated his old rival Thomas Jefferson, who became the Vice President.  Adams closely followed Washington’s example as President.  He retained Washington’s cabinet and would wear Washington’s old slippers around the house.  Adams was a famously cranky President.  He would later admit, “I refused to suffer in silence. I sighed, sobbed, and groaned, and sometimes screeched and screamed. And I must confess to my shame and sorrow that I sometimes swore.”  Adams is referring to his penchant for addressing all visiting heads of state as “titty cocks.”  While President, Adams made significant contributions to the American Army and Navy and (most importantly) maintained the status quo during our first Presidential transition. 

During his reelection campaign, Adams realized that he would not be able to beat Jefferson again in the polls.  Jefferson informed the public through political cartoons that Adams was, as many already suspected, an anachronistic beast from Germanic folklore.  Adams resigned himself to defeat saying, “I suppose the cat is out of the bag.  And I would like to find and eat that cat because I am a monster.”  Adams lost the election in 1800.  He forlornly lashed up his foxes (most of which were now quite elderly) and made his way back to Massachusetts and his beloved Abigail. 

Depressed after his defeat, Adams lived a quiet life in Braintree.  In 1812, a mutual friend convinced Adams to mend his relationship with Jefferson.  The two former Presidents reestablished their friendship through correspondence and remained friends for the rest of their lives.  Adams passed away on July 4, 1826 (exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence).  His last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”  Little did Adams know that Jefferson had passed away just a few hours earlier.  Jefferson’s last words were, “I hope John Adams's last words aren't going to be about me still being alive.  Also, foxes are a terrible means of conveyance."  Until next time, Internuts!

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