John Adams: Champion of Justice
The second president of the United States, John Adams, was committed to justice. John Adam’s life and work are the embodiment of this virtue. As a young man Adams was educated at Harvard and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar. As relations became strained with Great Britain, Adams aligned himself with the patriot movement. One of the most substantial events causing him to align himself with the Patriots was the Stamp Act of 1765, which he was vehemently opposed to. Adams became a leader in the fight for American independence – a position which would launch his career as a politician and diplomat.
Adams’ dedication to the principle of justice was put to the test in the 1770 Boston Massacre. He defended the British soldiers believed responsible for the bloodshed. His courageous desire to defend the soldiers was met with much skepticism, although his adherence to ensuring ubiquitous justice was recognized by the Boston people. About the trial, Adams stated, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
As the Revolution spread across the colonies, Adams continued to hold his deeply held belief in justice. He sat on dozens of American independence committees positioning himself to become one of the most influential people in the formation of the Declaration of Independence. He worked feverishly during the Second Continental Congress, advocating strongly for independence from the British. He was then appointed to the drafting committee where he supported Jefferson’s draft and the eternal principles of justice to which it appealed.
Although Adams’ later roles as a diplomat, vice president and president all illustrate his desire to ensure justice through public office, his defense of the British soldiers best exemplify his dedication to the principle. In an era when many colonists despised British soldiers, Adams stood strong in favor of justice. His courageous decision to defend the soldiers – an act not politically popular at the time – speaks to Adams’ prioritization of justice over popular sentiment. As a Founding Father, he wanted to ensure that justice was ingrained in the United States. Adams once wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “Power must never be trusted without a check.”
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