VIEWS: 2 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 11/30/2011
Chris Cappella AP U.S. History Period 3 Presidents Full Name: John Adams Born: October 30, 1735 Death: July 4, 1826 Political Party: Federalist Vice President: Thomas Jefferson Terms of Office: March 4, 1797 - March 4, 1801 (1 term) I would give John Adams, our second president of the United States, a B for his efforts as president. To start off with, Adams had the huge task of replacing maybe the most popular man in U.S. history, George Washington. He had big shoes to fill and no matter what he did it probably would not have been good enough for the people. Adams gets a B for several reasons, the first one being his refusal to go to war with France, a world powerhouse, while we were still a developing country. America was not ready to go to war and while Adams was a man in favor of independence and people’s right, he realized what was better for the country. His guidance and wisdom is a huge reason we are here today. But, there are several negative aspects to dwell on too. If Adams wanted to improve this grade, he could have started out by picking a better cabinet to support help himself. Also, he was obsessed with controlling non-federalists or anyone who talked bad about him, and passed malicious acts like the Aliens and Seditions act to conquer this control. The biggest goal the Adams administration had heading into his term was to maintain peace with France. This was probably his most difficult task because throughout his presidency, America caught war fever, mainly with France (XYZ affair), and demanded that America go to war with France. Adams knew that this was not a good idea because France was a world power and America was still recovering from the Revolutionary War. Instead, Adams worked out a peace treaty with France. He was very proud he avoided war and thought America would feel the same, instead, the colonists were enraged and called him a coward. Although it may have cost him a second term, this decision was the right one. Another goal of the Adams administration was to have the Federalists in complete control for his reign and for other future presidents to come. To enforce this, Adams passed two notable acts. They were the Aliens and seditions Acts. It prevented anyone from speaking falsely or in a malicious manner towards the government. The result of anyone breaking this act would end in a high misdemeanor charge. The Acts were specifically towards newspapers that would attack the government on a regular basis, anti- Federalists, and immigrants. The people didn’t like these acts because they felt it violated their first amendment rights and it was also crucial because most of the immigrants tend to have sided with the Jefferson party. Overall, Adams achieved his goals because he kept peace with France and his acts prevented a big rise in the anti-federalist party for a while. Adams considered himself a foreign policy specialist, so for the most part congress had the say on most of the domestic affairs. Overall, he had a good relationship with congress because it was more Federalist than Republican, so therefore he had an easy time getting most of his acts or laws passed that he wanted. Adams and congress did take a step back in their relationship when it came to the war with France. Everyone wanted to go to war but Adams. So when Adams sided into peace, everyone was a bit outraged, including congress. But, congress still had no problem passing demoralizing acts at the suggestion of the president like the Alien and Seditions Acts. The relationship Adams built with France is priceless and his most positive outcome. Instead of going to war and creating a foe, he made peace and created a world powerhouse trading partner who had our backs when needed. To understand how we became friends with France, you have to go back a little bit. When war seemed on the doorstep in 1797, Adams sent three men (Charles Pickney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry) over to Paris to negotiate. When reports came back that French officials refused to settle for a peace agreement without a $250,000 bribe, Adams was outraged. He sent back a document that told the men not to take a bribe from the French. But throughout the document, he described the French officials as X, Y, and Z, never referring to them by name. America was overjoyed that Adams wasn’t going to handle being bullied around by other countries. A Federalist had never been so popular. That quickly changed. In 1799 Adams again tried to settle with a peace agreement. This time though, he was successful. Americans were outraged and said he was a “coward” for not going to war. But in reality, America was not ready for war after just going through a huge one. They still had debt from the first war and didn’t have a very strong army, although they did have a strong Navy, because of Adams. Overall, not going to war with France was good because we didn’t lose money, established a world power as a trading partner, and didn’t take America three steps backwards by fighting a war that we had no business being involved in. The passing of the Alien and sedition Acts were easily Adams most negative outcome. Adams, in a sense, ate his own words when he passed these acts. Adams was a man of independence who favored giving the people rights. But, by passing these acts, he did the exact opposite of that. The Alien and sedition Acts consisted of four bills that, by design, were used to silence anyone opposing the government. The four bills were Naturalization Act, the Alien Act, the Alien Enemies Act, and the Sedition Act. The Naturalization Act made it difficult for immigrants to become citizens (it increased the years to be eligible for citizenship to from four to fifteen), where as the Alien Act was used to specifically rid the nation of the pro-Republican immigrants, who favorably sided with Jefferson and the Republicans. It also allowed the president to deport any alien that was considered “dangerous.” The Alien Enemies Act, which was mainly directed at the French, authorized the president to imprison any enemy alien during war, while the Sedition Act threatened citizens with a fine or imprisonment if they were caught writing or speaking of false, scandalous, things about the government. The problem with all of these was that they severely offended the first amendment rights, especially freedom of speech and the press. The goal was to eliminate as many opposers to the government as possible, and all of these were highly unfavorable to the majority of the public. John Adams biggest decision he made to impact future president’s came near the end of his term. It is when he assigned John Marshall Chief Justice to the Supreme Court. Marshall has been credited with creating the judiciary branch as an independent and influential branch of government. Marshall made several important decisions relating to federalism, shaping the checks and balances between the federal government and the states during the early years of the republic. He also proclaimed that the Supreme Court should have power over state courts. Marshall is considered the best Chief Justice ever and was nominated by Adams. He spent 34 years at this position. Marshall helped shape many ideas, such as giving the court power to use judicial review and can turn strike away laws that violate amendment rights. Marshall made the life of all the presidents he served much easier when it came to the courtroom. Overall, this country is better off for having John Adams as its president, and should be proud. He was a man who believed in everything America stood for; rights, liberties, and justice. He was a man who was smart enough to help draft the Declaration of Independence, didn’t own slaves, and lived and breathed politics. He may have made mistakes like passing discriminating acts against anti-Federalists, but he also avoided war, which may have saved America. That is why John Adams deserves a B for his presidency. Bibliography: American president: John Adams. Web. 3 Feb. 2010. <http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/adams>. John Adams Critical Review. Web. 3 Feb. 2010. <http://www.studyworld.com/John_Adams_Critical_Review.htm>. John Adams: The White House. Web. 3 Feb. 2010. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/johnadams>. John Adams. Web. 3 Feb. 2010. <http://americanrevwar.homestead.com/files/ADAMS.HTM>. John Adams Date of Birth: October 30, 1735 Date of Death: July 4, 1826 Terms of Office: March 4th, 1797 - March 4th 1801 Vice President: Thomas Jefferson Federalist Religion may have had a role in his personality, specifically free will When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the Nation. Opposed taxes that had to be paid for French and Indian war, did not own slaves Defended soldiers from Boston Massacre Contended that Parliament had no authority to tax the colonies or pass laws regulating them. Served as one of the editors to Declaration Of Independence Congress sent Adams to France in 1778 to aid in negotiating an alliance. By the time he arrived, however, Franklin had finished negotiations. Congress again sent him to France again in late 1779, to lead the U.S. delegation in peace negotiations with Britain. Practiced Law Narrowly defeated Thomas Jefferson for president Became somewhat unpopular with other Federalist by not fighting French in “quasi-war”, instead, he settled for a peace agreement because he said he knew America was not ready for a major war. Adams thought he would be praised for not going to war but instead was criticized Fearful of French espionage and revolutionary fervor, in 1798 the Federalist congress passed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts. Although Adams did not propose these measures, he signed them, as did Vice President Jefferson who loathed them. The Alien Act extended the residency requirement for American citizenship from five to fourteen years, and let the chief executive expel dangerous foreigners. Was fair: Named John Marshall, a rival, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Felt he was all words and no action Did a bad job of choosing his own cabinet XYZ affair is known for negotiations with French during war Signed Alien and Sedition Acts. Designed to limit free speech and immigration. The backlash may have been the reason he did not get a second term Built a strong Navy The Alien Act – The President could deport ‘dangerous’ aliens at will. The Sedition Act – Any conspiracy against the government including riots and interference with officers would result in a high misdemeanor. This went so far as to stop people from speaking in a “false, scandalous and malicious” manner against the government. Federalists had never been so popular after X,Y and Z thing Created Judiciary Act Because of John Adams, U.S. was: Trading goods with France; turned an enemy into a friend without violence If U.S would have went to war with world power France, many young men would have died and we probably would have lost Thesis: B- Goals of president: do not go to war with France Relationship with Congress: Unpopular Most Positive outcome: Not going to war Most negative outcome: Alien and Sedition Acts Most influenced decision impacting future presidents: Not going to war Conclusion: country was probably a little better off as president, but not much
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