Biography of John Adams

Early Patriot (1761-1770)

"By my constitution, I am but an ordinary man. The times alone have destined me to fame-and even these have not been able to give me much."

John Adams, Autobiography

In 1761, Adams began to feel his first patriotic stirrings. A new king had taken the throne in England and a new writ of assistance had to be approved by the Massachusetts Colony's Superior Court. However the writs contain a general search warrant. For years ships docking in Boston had smuggle items, especially molasses. The colonists feared the lose of profits from smuggling. The colonists decided to fight the writs. One of the two lawyers hired by the colonists was John Otis. In his argument against the writs, Otis included the line, "A man's home is his castle." Otis defeated the Crown's lawyers, or at least the colonists thought so. The Superior Court, fearing that colonists believed that they won the case, stalled and wrote to London for assistance.

John Adams was present for the whole trial. Adams thought that Otis rose like a flame of fire. By the end of the trial, Adams was ready to join the Patriot's cause. Later that year, John's father passed away. With his father's passing, John gained a place in the Braintree Town Meeting. This was the beginning of John's political career. Among John's first political accomplishments were to bar amateurs from practicing law and to appoint his brother as deputy sheriff. Adams became a respected man in Braintree and was looked upon as a reliable citizen of the town.

In 1765, Adams began to publish a series of newspaper essays entitled, "Dissertation On Canon and Feudal Law." The news of the Stamp Act became public before he had finished his essays. Therefore, Adams used his final essay as a forum to attack the Stamp Act. The town of Braintree selected John Adams to write a protest against the Stamp Act. John hesitated but was assured by his cousin, Sam Adams, that it would bring John some notoriety in Boston. John was less sure, in his diary he poured out his anguish. John wrote that first to become a successful lawyer he had to deal with poverty, few friends to help him, and now the Stamp Act conspired to ruin law practice.

John's protest writing did bring him some notoriety. Samuel Adams invited John to attend the meetings of the Caucus Club. The Caucus Club was a political organization in which Deacon Adams was a member. John was impressed with the meeting and the smoky room filled with the future revolutionaries. On February 22, 1766, the British House of Commons repealed the Stamp Act. It took three months for the news to reach Boston. The repeal of the Stamp Act reduced much of the anti-parliament fever in Boston. Adams was able to return to his law practice and his budding political career.

In 1769, Adams won his first noticeable case. Adams succeeded in having charges on wine smuggling dropped against his client. Who was Adam's client? None other than the richest man in Boston, John Hancock. On March 5, 1770, both Adams' career and America's changed in an instant.