Among Adams' accomplishments:
(1) He was an important influence in the committee that revised Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence and did the most to argue for and push for its passage by the Continental Congress.
(2) He was the one who made the original motion to make George Washington the general of the army commissioned by the Continental Congress to prosecute the Revolutionary War.
(3) He played a key administrative and political role during the Revolutionary War.
(4) He wrote the constitution of the State of Massachusetts, the oldest functioning constitution in the world, and a key model upon with the Constitution of the United States is based.
(5) He was instrumental in securing the aid of France and foreign loans during the Revolutionary War.
(6) He was a key negotiator of peace with Britain ending the Revolutionary War.
(7) He had the unenviable task of following George Washington as 2nd President of the United States and - despite a few serious mistakes - was able to keep the union intact and keep the U.S. out of war with France or Britain.
The biography is well written and illuminating - really absolutely fascinating. It brings to life Johns Adams and his varied activities - from his loving relationship with his wife Abigail and her own important role in events to his love-hate relationship with Thomas Jefferson that spanned most of their lives.
The only quibble I have with the book is that it sometimes does not give enough detail about some key issues that Adams had to grapple with. For example, too little attention is given the Alien and Sedition acts - one of the most odious pieces of legislation signed by Adams that thwarted freedom of the press. But then again - he would have needed multiple volumes to cover everything. (As a side note - you do end up empathizing for the act given that the newspapers of the time were vicious in their personal attacks and printed stories that would be libelous by today's standards.)
Suffice it to say - this really is a must read.
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Overshadowed by the lustrous presidents Washington and Jefferson, who bracketed his tenure in office, Adams emerges from McCullough's brilliant biography as a truly heroic figure--not only for his significant role in the American Revolution but also for maintaining his personal integrity in its strife-filled aftermath. McCullough spends much of his narrative examining the troubled friendship between Adams and Jefferson, who had in common a love for books and ideas but differed on almost every other imaginable point. Reading his pages, it is easy to imagine the two as alter ...