The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: With a Life of the Author - Vol. 1

By John Adams; Charles Francis Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI.
RETIREMENT FROM PUBLIC LIFE -- OCCUPATIONS -- RELATIONS WITH JEFFERSON -- DEATH.

ON the 4th of March, 1801, the day upon which Mr. Jefferson was inaugurated President of the United States, Mr. Adams retired from public life, after an uninterrupted course of service of six and twenty years, in a greater variety of trusts than fell to the share of any other American of his time. He had gone through all of them with acknowledged credit to himself and honor to the country, excepting the last, and in that he felt that by a concurrence of adverse circumstances he was visited with censure which neither his motives nor his acts had merited. Sensitive and ardent in his temperament, he would not wait to be present at the installation of his successor, or to exchange the customary forms of civility in transferring the office. In this course, as not consistent with true dignity, or with the highest class of Christian virtue, he was perhaps wrong. It certainly would have been more politic to have made professions of confidence in Mr. Jefferson. But that was not his way, when he did not entertain them. He shared strongly in the distrust universal among the federalists, of that gentleman's intentions, and he believed, not without color of reason, that he had acted somewhat disingenuously towards himself. This was a strong motive for declining to be present at the inauguration, but it was not by any means the only one. Had the party which elected him really made him its head; had it stood unitedly and cordially by him in the policy which he had felt it his duty to prefer, he believed that he should never have been exposed to the necessity of any such trial. But even if, in spite of every exertion, defeat had followed, with a united support, the exultation of the victors might have been easily endured, as an inevitable concomitant of the chances of the popular

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