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John Adams - with Periodic Presidents 

There have been a lot of tough acts to follow in history, but perhaps nobody had as hard a time stepping out of the shadow of their predecessor as John Adams. George Washington left impossible shoes to fill for his successor, and anybody would have had a hard time living up to the standard set by the American Cincinnatus.


Looking at John Adams’s cell, you can see that it is orange. This signifies that he was a member of the Federalist party. Other notable federalists include Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and John Marshall. John Adams was the first president to be a member of a political party and the only Federalist to ever become President of the United States. 


The number 2 in the top center indicates that Adams was the second President. The number one, on the top right of the cell, indicates that Adams was elected once to the presidency. Adams’s cell features the letters VP, as he served as the first Vice President of the United States during George Washington’s tenure as President. The bottom of the cell displays the years he was President, from 1797-1801. 


The 1796 presidential election was the first in which two candidates were presented by opposing parties. John Adams ran as a Federalist, while Thomas Jefferson ran as a Democratic-Republican.  Adams, winning the most electoral votes, became president.  However, his running mate, Thomas Pinckney, would not be elected vice president.  As the Constitution laid out, the person with the second most electoral votes would become vice president.  That man was Thomas Jefferson.  So, the election of 1796 put two opposing parties into the White House.  The 12th Amendment changed the electoral process.

In the rematch of the 1796 election, Thomas Jefferson took on the incumbent John Adams.  Adams had lost some support due mainly to his Alien and Sedition Acts.

Jefferson would tie his running-mate, Aaron Burr, for the most electoral votes.  Since there was no majority winner, the vote went to the U.S. House of Representatives.  In an interesting move, Hamilton convinced a few Federalists to change their votes, leading to a victory for Thomas Jefferson.

Perhaps the greatest legacy Adams left behind was not his presidency, but how he left office. Despite losing a bitter election filled with personal attacks, John Adams peacefully, although unhappily, left office. This set a crucial precedent and demonstrated one of the most important aspects of our government, a peaceful transfer of power.


Adams returned to Massachusetts with his wife Abigail following his Presidency. He was a prolific writer, and eventually patched up his relationship with former friend turned rival, Thomas Jefferson. Adams and Jefferson both passed on the same day,  July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

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