April 21, 1789: John Adams becomes first Vice President of the US. The new government began without the President and Vice President taking office on the same day. For both men, the official start of the first presidential term was March 4. However, it was not until April 6 when the first Congress counted the Electoral College votes and certified Washington as President and Adams as Vice President. On this date, Adams finally presided over the Senate and officially took the position of his elected seat. Washington did not begin as acting President of the US until April 30, 1789 and the executive arm of the government was officially begun.
Adams was the eldest of three sons born on October 30, 1735 (October 19 using the Old Style or Julian calendar). The place of his birth is now called Quincy, Massachusetts but in 1735 was still the north precinct of Braintree. His place of birth is now part of Adams National Historical Park. The family had been in the colonies since about 1638 and were descendants of Puritans. Adams’s mother was from one of the colony’s leading medical families. The family was not wealthy, however John felt the need to live up to the extended family’s history. He went to Harvard College at the age of sixteen with his father expecting him to study religion and become a minister.
After receiving his degree, John taught for a few years and decided to become a lawyer. He not only did not become the minister his father wanted, but John eventually changed religions and became a Unitarian. He studied law in the office of John Putnam, a leading lawyer in Worcester. He received a second degree from Harvard in 1758 and was admitted to the bar. He began to write about his life, clients, events, and his impressions of them all. In 1764, just days before his 29th birthday, he married Abigail Smith, his third cousin. They had six children, one of them also destined to become a President of the US. John, while interested in the local politics, was not as popular as his cousin, Samuel Adams – yet.
Adams forte was constitutional law and he was instrumental in drafting many of the original documents for the emerging nation. The first presidential election was held in 1789 with Washington receiving 69 of the electoral votes and Adams getting 34 – second place. He thus became Vice President. There are those who claim what he would have preferred to have been the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But it was his duty to preside of the Senate and he had little input into the early running of the new nation. He was reelected to the Vice Presidency in 1792. In neither term did Washington consult much with his second in command. The election of 1796 saw Washington out of the race and Adams was elected President with Thomas Jefferson taking over his old position.
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws. – all from John Adams
Also on this day: Snoopy v. The Red Baron – In 1918, The Red Baron loses a dogfight.
Rome – In 753 BC, Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
Henry VIII – In 1509, Henry became King of England.
Seattle’s Best – In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition opened in Seattle.