John Adams: American Independence: The 2nd President of the United States | Mini Bio | BIO

adams was one of the smartest presidents  we ever had he was a legal thinker  

so i think adam's greatest asset was his mind in  the way it influenced the development of american  

institutions he was someone who had very strong  views about government about democracy he has  

self-awareness he's self-deprecating he has a  sense of humor but he was a sort of a crotchety  

character that probably some people had  a little bit of difficulty engaging with

john adams faced two big challenges when he became  president one of them is that in the late 1790s  

the american political system was becoming  really polarized and the federalists and the  

republicans were very much convinced that the  other side was going to destroy the republic  

but the other challenge he faced as president was  he was coming in after washington and that meant  

anything he did that was different from washington  was going to be questioned he faced a number  

of foreign policy crises one of them was the  xyz affair in which an american diplomat abroad  

was asked to pay a bribe to a french ambassador in  order to open negotiations which americans saw as  

this great insult to their republican values now  the thing is such a thing happened all the time in  

europe but the xyz affair becomes this enormous  domestic crisis how are we going to respond  

so there's a was an almost war with france  during his presidency which almost became  

a war war that would not have been a good thing  for the little you know semi-newborn republic  

to go to war with a major empire like that so  by his effectively keeping the united states  

out of war and keeping it a quasi  war he did something very important

one of the most controversial things adams does in  his presidency is past the alien and sedition act  

and this was passed because the federalists feared  that there was a conspiracy within the country it  

gave the government the power to deport dangerous  aliens it gave the government the power to punish  

people who were accused of saying seditious  things about the government they were repressive  

acts and adams supported this legislation  which then just created this enormous debate  

within american society about what freedom  of press freedom of speech really meant  

his opponents all of a sudden felt like they were  being treated like traders and that only mobilized  

them to get involved politically the alien  and sedition acts were so reviled by americans  

that it really ended adam's chance of reelection  so the lasting impact of adam's presidency is the  

great irony to be able to have a failed  presidency and then to have a successful  

peaceful succession of power so adam's  failure was essential to american democracy