Adams was always an impatient man. His grandson remembered that "his anger, when thoroughly roused, was, for a time, extremely violent." 1 His contemporaries knew firsthand of his restlessness. As a member of the Continental Congress, Adams agitated for independence well before most of his colleagues could face the shocking idea. He later played a key role in securing the appointment of George Washington to lead the Continental Army.
A man of Adams' temperament was hardly suited to the Vice Presidency, yet he was the first elected to the post. He sourly called it "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."2 He followed his eight years of inaction by winning election to the Presidency. Never an ardent Federalist, Adams nonetheless was heartily suspicious of the Democratic-Republicans. He was certain that Thomas Jefferson's dislike of England was motivated by nothing more than his pocketbook. "I wish somebody would pay his debt of seven thousand pounds to Britain . . . ," Adams wrote, "and then I believe his passions would subside, his reason return, and the whole man and his whole state become good friends of the Union and its government."3 Adams and Jefferson later became good friends themselves.
The eldest son of John Adams grew up in the family businesses: politics and diplomacy. John Quincy traveled with his father to the latter's assignment as commissioner to France in 1778. It was the beginning of a career that would take the son to his own ministerial posts in Russia and England, then on to be Secretary of State and President.
John Quincy Adams was like his father in other