A Founding Father and second President, John Adams (1735-1826) was born on this day in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, the brilliant son of a successful farmer.
"Genius is sorrow's child," he said.
Graduating from Harvard Law School with the goal to "spread... genius, learning, and virtue," Adams married his beloved Abigail Smith in 1764 and called her his "best, dearest, worthiest, wisest friend."
His vision, tenacity, and leadership were instrumental in America achieving independence from Britain. He selected George Washington to head the Continental Army and Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence.
"Fear is the foundation of most governments," he once said.
The opinionated Adams called his two terms as Washington's Vice President "the most insignificant office ever the invention of man contrived." His one-term Presidency could not match the heroic popularity of his predecessor.
"Popularity was never my mistress, nor was I ever, or shall I ever be a popular man," said Adams, who lived to attend the inauguration of his son, John Quincy, the sixth president of the U.S.
Called the Father of the U.S. Navy, the elder Adams was first to move into the White House (1800) and wrote, "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." In 1902, Franklin Roosevelt celebrated those words in carved marble over the hearth in the State Dining Room.
More PRESIDENTIAL Quotations
Freedom is power.