Howdy from Boston, well, really Quincy and Cambridge!
Juliette and I had an amazing day. It was a day devoted to one of our most influential founding fathers, John Adams.
We started our day with a trip to Quincy, sections of which used to be named Braintree. We visited John Adam’s very modest childhood home and then a few cobblestones away, the small, simple home where John lived with his brilliant wife, Abigail.
I was mesmerized when I saw the tiny desk where Abigail wrote all of her letters to John throughout the Revolutionary war. My sense of awe was rekindled when the Park Ranger recounted the story of how Abigail, realizing her son’s promise, and realizing the needs of her future country, sent her ten-year-old son abroad with John. She knew the experience would give him a wealth of knowledge – a knowledge that America would need in her future leaders. John and John Quincy traveled across the Atlantic in February. Their ship hit hurricane force winds and was struck by lightning and four crewmen died.
Abigail was and is an example of a wife and mother who knew no bounds of fortitude and selflessness. This is why I wrote about her in my book, “Holding Her Head High.”
A statue of Abigail Adams with her son John Quincy, who would become our 6th President, was in the town square. Inscribed on the statue were her words: “Improve your understanding for acquiring useful knowledge and virtue such as will render you an ornament to society an honor to your country and a blessing to your parents.” She is an inspiration for me as a patriot and a mother.
In John and Abigail’s first home was an even smaller desk than Abigail’s It was on this desk that John wrote the Massachusetts’s Constitution. Included in his draft of the Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were: three branches of government, a bi-cameral legislature, a supreme court of the land, as well as, a list of “rights”. I would like to study the Massachusetts’s Constitution. The fact that the states had their own constitutions before the United States Constitution holds a revelatory poignancy to the modern day debate regarding states’ rights.
In Federalist Paper No. 32, Alexander Hamilton argues a point regarding the levies of money and the states’ power:
“because I am persuaded that the sense of the people, the extreme hazard of provoking the resentments of the state governments, and a conviction of the utility and necessity of local administrations, for local purposes, would be a complete barrier against the oppressive use of such a power.”
This statement illuminates, once again, the original intent of the federal government, which was to respect the state’s rights and to be a federal power held to accountability through the checks and balances of both the people and the states.
After Juliette and I visited the original homestead of John and Abigail Adams, we visited Peacefield. Peacefield was the home of John and Abigail Adams after the war. In this home I saw the original furnishings: dishes, chairs, paintings and thousands of John Quincy’s original books on exhibit in the land’s first library – the John Quincy Adam’s Library. A poignant point that resonated through the experience of visiting their homesteads was sacrifice – a sense of duty for their country. John and Abigail were willing to put themselves in great peril – a peril based on value, faith and righteousness.
It is worthy to note that John Adams was chosen to be the one to represent America in England as our first ambassador. John Adams walked in to greet the king, the king who wanted to hang him, and announced that he was there to represent our new country – the United States of America. I am also in awe of the fact that it was John Adams who so valiantly fought for the Declaration of Independence and suggested that Thomas Jefferson write it. It was John Adams who nominated George Washington to be the General of the Revolutionary army. It was John Adams who, on his own accord and literally on his own, traveled to Amsterdam and negotiated a 3 million dollar loan for the our revolutionary army who had no shoes and were suffering tremendously. It was John Adams who was one of the five who negotiated the magnificent Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War. It was John Adams who predicted that the French revolution would be a bloodbath that would end in tyrannical government. The list goes on and on.
John Adams is truly an American hero. May we teach our children about his great genius, sacrifice and dedication to our country. May he be an example of what it is to be a selfless American patriot. When Juliette and I visited the room, which held the tombs of John Adams and Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams, I was overcome with emotion. In this room, as tears flowed down my cheeks, the director of the Church of the Presidents, Arthur W. Ducharme, told me how important “Constituting America” was to the future of our country. It was a moment I will never forget.
Thursday, June 10th, 2010