Before he became the second President of the United States, John Adams was a distinguished legislator and statesman.  He first gained wide notice in 1765 from his famous speech before the Massachusetts legislature.  There he argued passionately that the Stamp Act was invalid because the commonwealth of Massachusetts was given no representation in the British Parliament and had not assented to the act.  Upon the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Adams served in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1778.  In 1779 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary for the negotiation of a treaty of peace, and later commerce, with Great Britain.  He worked with Benjamin Franklin and John Jay on a treaty that gave the United States access to the fisheries along its coast in November 1782, as well as the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war on September 3, 1783.  During this period, Adams also was the minister to the Netherlands, where he managed to negotiate a loan from Dutch bankers for the nearly bankrupt American colonies, and in April 1782 won Dutch recognition of American independence.  In 1785 Adams was appointed the first American minister to the Court of St. James in London, where he served for several years before returning to the United States to reenter the domestic politics of the new nation.

  • Ferling, John E. John Adams: A Life. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1992.
  • McCullough, David. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuester, 2001.