“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.” -John Adams.
The United States of America formally came into being 228 years ago, when the Constitution became effective on March 4, 1789. In 2017, it is now a nation of over 325 million people. It encompasses almost 3.8 million square miles. The United States has the largest economy in the world. The US dollar is the world’s primary reserve currency. Its armed forces are the most technically advanced and professional military in the world. Today, though, I want to take you back to a time when the future of this nation was anything but assured, and to the story of two men, a father and a son, who spent their lives trying to build a better place for their descendants, and for all of us. Our journey will take us to Quincy, Massachusetts, to visit Adams National Historic Park, which commemorates President John Adams and his son, President John Quincy Adams.
Born and raised in Braintree, Massachusetts, John attended Harvard College and went on to become a teacher. After a few years of unhappiness in his career, he decided to become a lawyer. In those days, there were no law schools, so John paid another lawyer the sum of $100 to be tutored in law ($100 then was approximately the same amount of money as the cost of a house). John would have a distinguished career as a lawyer, most notably successfully defending British soldiers accused of killing 5 civilians in the Boston Massacre. He was no supporter of British rule of the colonies, however. John was the author of numerous writings against British policies, and served in the First and Second Continental Congresses from 1774-1777, which led to the Declaration of Independence.
During the American Revolution, John was an ambassador to France, securing money and weapons for colonial forces. After the war, John drafted the constitution of the state of Massachusetts. Finishing second in voting to George Washington for the Presidency of the US, John Adams became the first Vice President, dutifully serving President Washington during his term in office. Adams went on to win the election of 1796, become the nation’s second President. Among his accomplishments were rebuilding the US Navy, ending a war with France, and naming John Marshall as Chief Justice. Losing the election of 1800, however, he and his wife Abigail retired to Quincy, Massachusetts (via Wikipedia).
John and Abigail had six children, but it was John Quincy, the second-born, who would rise to the greatest fame. At the age of only 14, he was sent to Russia to negotiate for recognition of the American colonies during the revolution. Harvard educated, like his father, John Quincy became a lawyer. He was a Harvard professor, a US ambassador, and in 1824, was elected the fifth US President. After the presidency was over, John and his wife Louisa returned to Quincy, Massachusetts. Unlike his father, however, he would have an active retirement, as he was elected to the US House of Representatives (one of only two Presidents to serve in Congress after the Presidency), he helped to create the Smithsonian Institute, and most notably, he successfully defended African slaves who had mutinied aboard the slave ship Amistad, winning their freedom (via Wikipedia).
Adams National Historic Park has existed in Quincy, Massachusetts since 1946. It honors the five generations of the Adams family that resided in Quincy from 1720 – 1927. The park is administered by the National Park Service, and is open year round. Admission is $10 for adults, and children 16 and under can enter for free. Because of the locations of buildings throughout Quincy, you park in a centralized lot and then are taken to the various historical places aboard a trolley. Saturday afternoon, I took a tour of this area that was so critical to the founding of our nation.
While I have tried to provide a good overview of this terrific park and the lives of the people who lived here, there is only so much I can fit into a blog post. For more information, I would highly recommend reading “John Adams” by David McCullough, which chronicles the life of our second President. “John Quincy Adams” by Harlow Giles Unger chronicles the life and accomplishments of our fifth President, and is also a good read. The HBO miniseries “John Adams,” starring Paul Giamatti as President Adams and Laura Linney as Abigail, is critically acclaimed, winning four Golden Globe Awards and thirteen Emmys. Or better yet, stop by and see Adams National Historic Park for yourself!
Before I close, I want to make mention of a change to this site. For over a year, The Voyage of DH has chronicled my adventures as I have traveled thousands of miles to thirteen states to see wild horses on a beach, to ride on a boat across the ocean, to explore lighthouses, beaches, museums, and to spend time with family and friends. In that short span though, this blog has evolved from writings focused primarily on my Accord to now centering the stories on the destinations themselves. And while I adore my 2012 Accord coupe, the reality is that a car, like any machine, can break down, get damaged, or need replacement. There might come a day when the voyages are occurring in a vehicle other than DH. So after much consideration, I settled on a new title: The Open Road Ahead. Life is just that… an open road. And I look forward to the experiences in my future, and to seeing what new adventures are waiting down the next mile.
‘Til next time… and the next stop on the open road ahead.
P.S. Don’t worry. DH isn’t going anywhere. He’s got miles and miles of adventure left in him!