President’s Day.

“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.

Map of Massachusetts with a pin in Adams National Historic Park
Today’s adventure: Adams National Historic Park, about 11 miles south of Boston.
View of Route 3 North, from behind the windshield.
The open road ahead! Ok… near Boston you can never actually speak of a truly open road, as traffic is a constant of life here. It was a beautiful day, though.
2012 Honda Accord coupe in a parking garage.
All visitors must park in a multi-level garage near the Visitor Center. Side note: yet again why I love polished metal metallic: you can’t see how absolutely filthy my car is.
Entrance gates to Hancock Cemetery in Quincy, MA.
My first stop was Hancock Cemetery, original burial place of President John Adams and President John Quincy Adams.
Sign outside Hancock Cemetery describing origins of cemetery.
First settled in 1625, and formally established in 1640, Quincy has a long history. This cemetery holds the remains of many of the oldest settlers of the town.
Row of tombstones with American flag in the foreground.
US flags indicate the tomb of a person with significant ties to US history. In the middle of the frame, set back a bit, with a flag beside it, is the tombstone of the Reverend William Thompson, who was buried here in 1666. William was the town’s first minister.
Tomb of John Quincy Adams, with United First Parish Church steeple in distance.
The tomb of President John Adams. His son had his remains moved to the crypt beneath United First Parish Church (in the background). John Quincy Adams was then buried here, until his son had John Quincy moved to the crypt as well.
United First Parish Church.
United First Parish Church, which was the church of both father and son.
Sanctuary of United First Parish Church.
Built in 1828, the current church is the fourth building for this congregation. Both President Adams worshipped here.
Looking upward at ornate church ceiling.
The ornate church ceiling in the sanctuary caught my eye.
Sign indicating the burial place of John Adams in the crypt beneath the church.
For a donation of $5, you can have a personal guided tour of the crypt where both Presidents and their wives are buried.
Doorway into the crypt.
My tour guide, John, implored me to watch my head as I entered the crypt. If I stood up too fast, I would hit my head on the low granite ceiling. Solid advice.
Tombs of John Adams and Abigail Adams.
The tombs of John and Abigail Adams. By all accounts, theirs was a true love story. When business or government separated John from Abigail, they would write to each other continuously, and thousands of their letters to each other survive. Upon his wife’s death, John remarked, “I wish I could lay down beside her and die too” (via the National Park Service). 
Tombs of John Quincy Adams and Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams.
President John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams. The daughter of an American diplomat and an Englishwoman, Louisa was born in London, making her the first foreign-born spouse of a US President, something that would not be repeated until 2017.
Tomb of John Adams with US flag at head of tomb.
The flag on John Adams’ tomb has fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, indicating the number of states in the union during his presidency. The original plan was for each state to have its own star and stripe on the flag. The number of stripes quickly got unwieldy, however, and it soon became the system used today: a star for each state, and 13 stripes to represent the original colonies.
Tomb of John Quincy Adams, with a flag at the head of the tomb.
Using the system we still have today, the flag on John Quincy’s tomb has 24 stars and 13 stripes.
Copy of the church's baptismal registry, with arrows on page pointing to names of John Adams and John Hancock.
This copy of the church’s baptismal registry caught my eye. Within one year, the same minister baptized President John Adams and also John Hancock.
Visitor Center for Adams National Historic Park.
The Visitor Center for Adams National Historic Park is in a modern office building in the center of Quincy.
House that is birthplace of John Adams.
The first trolley stop was this house, where John Adams was born in 1735. The house was built in 1722, but it reuses the wood from a house previously built here in 1670. We were given a tour of the house, but owing to a series of thefts, this is one of the few US National Park locations where photography is forbidden inside the museum.
House that is the birthplace of John Quincy Adams.
This house, built in 1717, was the birthplace of John Quincy Adams. John Adams’ father bought three houses, and each of his sons received one. This was John’s sole inheritance, however. John’s brothers received the father’s wealth. It may sound harsh, but the father’s logic was that John was the only son who went to college (which the father fully funded), so he would need the money less than his brothers.
Photograph of Peacefield, the Adams' estate.
Peacefield, the house that John and Abigail inhabited after he was President. Built in 1731, it has 23 rooms and was continuously inhabited by the Adams family until 1927. Despite the age of these houses, none of them hold the distinction of being the oldest house I have visited. That honor goes to a tea shop in Canterbury, England where my Mom and I had lunch several years ago. It was built in 1475.
Gardens behind Peacefield.
The gardens behind Peacefield are beautiful. Several of the plants and trees were planted by Abigail and John when they first inhabited the house in 1788.
Pink flowers, with Peacefield and Library in background.
The building to the center of the frame is The Stone Library, which is the first US Presidential Library. Built in 1870, it holds the books of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Among its treasures are John Adams’ copy of Washington’s Farewell Address, John Adams’ writing desk, and the Mendi Bible, which was a gift to John Quincy Adams from the African slaves he had defended who had mutinied on the Amistad.
Apple trees behind Stone Library.
The apple trees behind the Stone Library were planted by John Adams and John Quincy Adams. For years, the apples were fed to police horses in Boston.
Honda Accord in front of Dunkin Donuts store.
After the tour was over, I swung by Dunkin Donuts. Why does this merit mention? Is Dunkin really that special? Well, this one kind of is…
Sign outside of Dunkin Donuts commemorating it as the location of the original Dunkin Donuts store.
It is the location of the original Dunkin Donuts! The very first one, in 1950, was right here. Of course I had to stop and buy an Old Fashioned!
Odometer of Honda Accord indicating 83,812 miles.
The end of another trip! Nearing 84,000 and the car keeps purring along.
Screenshot of John Adams series on HBO.
Now if you will excuse me, I know how I will be spending my evening as soon as I finish writing this post.

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!

 

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