Juan_Bottom wrote:That's not true,
and if you added together all of the slaves and Native Americans in our country during Adams time it wouldn't have been anywhere near a million. Even using America's current borders you still wouldn't hit a million.
So how do you preserve the freedom of a slave? According to the 1800 census there were 893,000 slaves in the US,which added to the estimated 600,000 native Americans within the current borders is nearly 1.5 million. Less than I thought I will admit,but well over a million.
The pre-Columbus estimate for the current US borders is 12 million,I hadn't realized how effective the genocide had been 1492-1800.
Ok, well, I'll write a book.
It is a well-known fact that both John and Abigail were ardently against slavery, and both were outspoken about it, which goes without saying. When they were married, they received a pair of slave children as a wedding gift. Horrified, John and Abigail immediately set them free. Years later when Abigail moved to France/Netherlands/England where John worked as our Ambassador, Abigail left their home and grounds in the care of a recently married black couple. Abigale even had them move into the bedroom she shared with John; no big deal, but not behavior you'd expect from any racist. When Abigail traveled to Virginia to see our new Capitol under construction, she had a lot to write home about what she saw... In fact, I would argue that except for maybe Lincoln, no other president or first lady has ever been so opposed to slavery. What you don't understand, and nobody does anymore, is that politics during Adam's time were incomparable to today. Massachusetts could not exist without total cooperation from Virginia, and vice versa. Literally until just before Lincoln's election the South could have seceded at any time and the North couldn't have have stopped them. This dependency was ever greater during the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary years.
And about his politics; John Adam's wrote the world's oldest serving Constitution. He was our busiest member of Congress, probably ever. He braved traveling to France, through a British Blockade, during storm season, while fully aware that the crown had named him to be hanged if captured. We aren't talking about Barack Obama interpreting the Constitution this way or that. This was the originator... the man who literally designed our system of government* from the bottom up, and then threw away a successful career and risked his life over and over again for his cause of freedom.
You know, John Adam's liked to say in private that Thomas Pain was wonderful at tearing down the British Government, but knew nothing about building a new government in it's place.
But what you're wondering is, if John Adam's loved freedom so much, why didn't he end slavery?
Well for starters, he did end slavery for Americans. And I'm talking from both the British and the ominous threat of the French... He was the Declaration of Independence's first and loudest champion, and later refused to give in to any threats of occupation or war from both France and England.
But as for the slaves and indentured servants the answer is quite simply that he had no ability, power, or authority to do so. But there are some steps that he did take entirely on his own. He was asked to write Massachusetts' Constitution alone, which was a monumental task that he soberly accepted. And in Adam's Constitution (again, the oldest serving Constitution in the world) he went out of his way to state that all men were born free equals**. This allowed Massachusetts, Adam's home state, to end slavery all the frickin' way back in 1783.
It was pretty obvious, I think, what Adam's intention was when the Constitution was ratified in 1780***, which is why slavery was so soon ended. I don't know of any opposition or discussion about that part either during the ratification process.
Adams was in France when England finally decided to ask for peace, and since he was aptly placed and qualified, he was trusted by Congress to lead in the peace talks. However, France was not interested in a free and independent America, and demanded that Congress grant the final approval of any treatys to His most Christian Majesty, the King of France. This would have rendered America a French puppet state. Yet Congress agreed. Adams however, was as mad as he'd ever been in all his life, and acting with rare support from Benjamin Franklin, he ignored Congress and told the French to gfy. Then with John Jay in tow he went out and brokered a peace that included, astonishingly, full American Independence from Britain. It was far more than anyone actually expected, and it was John Adams who made it happen, and set you free.
Adams remained in Europe for some time, negotiating loans and acting as Ambassador to England, the Netherlands, and sometimes France. And he was in Europe when Congress created our American Constitution. He had no participation in the process, aside from some personal letters that he wrote, and his highly influential book about how to construct a Republic. But those men that did write the American Constitution, adopted in 1787, prevented Congress from even regulating the importation of slaves and tied the president's hands on the matter as well.
Now, in 1789 Adams became the President of the Senate (VP of the US). So he wasn't allowed to debate policies or bills. Although he sometimes did and also cast a crapload of tie-breaking votes.... but anyway that's not the point... as president of the Senate he did nothing but call names and break ties. He served two terms as Washington's VP and then was elected president himself, and as the POTUS Adams made several speeches exposing his adamant belief in cooperation and peace with Europe and with the American tribes. He kept his word where the tribes were concerned, but again he was forced to defend America from France. The new post-revolution french government had been capturing American ships on the seas and slaving their crews, using the ships and any cargo to fund the French war in Europe. They sometimes tortured merchant captains until and unless the captain said that their ship's cargo was actually British property. Adams showed some real backbone here, and against Congresses wishes was able to fund the building of new American warships. Then he ordered our old ones to defend our merchant shipping lanes. Although Adam's argued, again and again, that what he meant for was peace, he also insisted that America needed to be able to defend herself in order to make that peace a reality. Adams was skewered in the press as a war monger. Yet it was this navy that influenced the French to back off and even helped convince Napoleon to sell Louisiana to us. For this reason, and for his time drafting our Navy's laws (which I won't devote any time to), Adam's is known as the Grandfather of the American Navy. But the lesson is that Adams himself gave all of us the wisdom and tools to live forever free.
As for my numbers on slaves & Natives - I was going by memory. As I recalled it was estimated that there were between 300,000 and 600,000 Native Americans living in America's present borders when we ratified the Constitution. And that there were an estimated 300,000 slaves in the states in the 1770s. It makes sense that there wouldn't be many slaves in the colonies at that time, because a small yet significant number went over to the British hoping for their freedom (who wouldn't?), and there was an embargo going on, so new slaves couldn't be imported. Furthermore, any resources normally spent in the slave trade would have been put toward the war effort. I read this number in a book somewhere, though I can't remember which or when. Six and three would still keep us just under a million, but I checked wiki and I cannot find slave numbers for the 1770s. I don't think it's something to quibble over, and it's beside the point. Even when Adams was president America was only East of the Mississippi, but did not even include Florida. He wasn't the president of massive territory and didn't have the power to end slavery.
I don't believe that it is fair to blame Adams for not freeing the slaves while he was in Europe or after he returned, because he didn't have the authority or power. He never owned a slave and he was outspoken against it. The only time he could have done anything to stop slavery was when he was a Congressman in the 1770s, and that's why I was using those dates. But at that time the States were still independent.
Anecdote-ally though, Thomas Jefferson gave Adams a copy of his book Notes on the State of Virginia
. Adams read the entire book out loud to his wife and daughter Nabby. I've always wondered what Adam's and his family thought while reading Jefferson's explanation that Negros smell terribly because they excrete part of their body's waste through their pores and that Jefferson "could only speculate" that white's were indeed the superior race. You know that they did not believe such nonsense, but how would they have felt hearing such careless words from such a beloved family friend? Whatever the case, we do know from personal correspondences that Abigail really let Jefferson have it when the sex scandal between Jefferson and his slave broke, and that Adam's too, believed it and was greatly disappointed, though he wasn't talking to Jefferson about it.
Also, it probably just slipped your mind, but disease was the number one killer of Native Americans. This has to be especially true up until the migration west. Louis and Clarke wrote that even sick tribes were still warring with each other, even as everyone was dying or bedridden. Tribal politics were intense and confusing.*Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America
& he also wrote Thoughts on Government
which influenced every state Constitution.
**Adam's was not a sexist and said many times over that his wife was his equal and that she would have made as good of a politician as anyone he ever knew. Indeed he meant it; she was his political adviser.
*** Well before the US Constitution was ratified