An Example of an American
by Amanda Enstrom
"The Revolution was in the minds and heart of its people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations." John Adams
Now, at a time when America is at a crossroad, it is extremely beneficial to examine the sentiments of the people during the Revolutionary period. During the birth of our country, the American people emerged, and their beliefs laid the foundation of the future. It is in the hands of the present and future generations to erect the structure of the United States holding fast to the traditions of the founders. John Adams, the epitome of an American revolutionary, provides insight for the modern people.
Coming from common roots, Adams forged his own path being no different than the average American youth. In his diaries, he revealed himself as shy, timid around females, and self-conscious due to his lack of wit and social poise. With a Harvard education, Adams started his career as a teacher, later becoming a lawyer. On his thirtieth birthday, after maturing into a determined moral presence, he married Abigail Smith.
Being of a strong moral code, Adams was extremely loyal to the English crown. However, he slowly began to realize that there was a dire need for change. Although his heart was born English, his sentiments shifted to the American soil. As he became aware of the oppressive nature of the crown, Adams became one of the first people to search for a new road for the colonies. A radical change took over Adams, beginning in 1765 when he wrote one of the earliest statements of Revolutionary theory titled Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Laws. With his questioning nature, he struggled to uncover the best course of action for the colonies. On March 5, 1770 Adams was in the town as the ghastly Boston Massacre took place. To maintain an air of dignity and justice which now clings so fervently to the American people, Adams represented the British perpetrators. This helped him begin completely breaking the ties he felt to England. However, his epiphany perhaps occurred in 1774 at the First Continental Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted. At that moment, the seriousness of the actions the Americans were undertaking struck him. However, he said, "Let us eat potatoes and drink water. Let us wear canvas and undressed sheepskins, rather than submit to the ignominious domination that is prepared for us." The foundation was laid and the American tradition for perseverance and freedom was implemented.
John Adams was an important pioneer for the independence the Revolution stood for. But aside from his lofty ideas, perhaps his most influential words were written to his wife Abigail, "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." We owe our freedom that is now taken for granted to men like John Adams. Without his determination, the American standard of freedom, liberty, and equality might not exist. All should remember Adams and strive to parallel the patriotism he felt two hundred years ago. He helped lay the foundation; now it is our duty to construct the future. Adams said, "I am but an ordinary man. Times alone have destined me to fame." As ordinary people, we should follow his example and continue the fight to preserve the American tradition.
Bailyn, Bernard. Faces of Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990.
Ketcham, Ralph. From Colony to Country. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.
Langguth, A.J. Patriots. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.
(c) Amanda Enstrom, 1997. Reprinted with the permission of the author.