Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Adams Family

John Adams birthplace
Perhaps four or five years ago I started a project of reading a biography on every president starting with the first. I think I am only up to Andrew Jackson at this point but it has given me a lot of insight on the formation of our country. I no longer feel that George Washington was the hero that we bestow upon him today. He was a good man with good intentions but not much of a leader. I also discovered John Adams and wonder why we don't celebrate this guy with national monuments, pictures on currency and partial chapters devoted to him in grade school. So being fairly close to his birth home in Braintree, Massachusetts, I had to make the journey out there one day.

I was the only one on the first tour of the day so I had a private one on one showing. His birth home was neat in the respect that he was born there but the park ranger giving me the tour presented information as this is how people lived back then and presented almost no information on the 2nd president. The house had little to show inside though I was impressed with the original hardwood flooring that was probably 2 feet wide by 20 feet long with nary a knot anywhere. John Adam's home as an adult is right next door and the experience is also the same. Fortunately the tour included a shuttle to Peacefield and a different park ranger as a guide.

Peacefield: Later home to John Adams and three generations of family
While John Adams was overseas as a diplomat, he bought the above house and farm sight unseen and moved into it upon his return. Because the Whitehouse was still under construction, this was his 'Whitehouse' until the last year or two of his presidency and even then, he still moved back here during the summers. John Adams died in this house and his son John Quincy Adams lived here before it went to his son and then grandchild. After the 4th generation child died, the house was sold to a board for preservation and eventually it was turned into the museum it is today. Every single item in it today belonged to one of the four generations of Adams family that lived there. The park ranger guiding me was very knowledgeable about the president and subsequent generations and I enjoyed this part of the tour very much.
Peacefield Library
John Quincy Adams was worried about the legacy of his father (and rightfully so is seems) so he built the stone library seen above that if floor to ceiling full of books. It houses all of John Quincy Adams' books and those of his son and grandson. If someone would just lock me in there for a week, I think I would never even notice.

John and Abigail Adams Tomb
After touring Peacefield, the shuttle takes you back to the park head quarters is the town of Quincy Center which is oddly pronounced 'Quinzy', the same as John Quincy Adams middle name. I guess that is how they weed out the tourists. Not on the tour is a church just down the street where the tombs of both presidents and their wives can be found. John Adams actually died before the church was built but like so many people of the time, when it was built his body was exhumed and transferred to this tomb. Standing here between his and Abigail's tombs with my hands resting on it was a great experience. I don't know how to explain it other than to say it was very moving to me.

John Quincy and Louisa Adams Tomb
When John Quincy Adams died, the church had to dig out the ground right next to the tomb of John Adams and add onto the room so that father and son could be buried together. Although I have read a biography on John Quincy Adams, I couldn't tell you much other than he may have been one of the smartest men every in office. He knew somewhere around eleven languages fluently and was an avid reader. He would get up every morning at four and start his day with a couple hours of reading.


sage said...

When I saw the title, music started playing in my mind then I realized it was a different Adam's family...

Leigh said...

I had the same thoughts as Sage! LOL.

Great photos, Ed. My husband is a John Adams fan.

Ed said...

Sage - I was going for that reaction with my title. I'm glad it worked on someone out there.

Leigh - We are few and far between. However, I spent some time talking to the tour guides and they said ever since the McCullough book on John Adams, the tourism to his home has increased by a factor of ten and has been steady though there were some smaller upticks due to some recent serial shows on cable featuring John Adams in a prominent role such as the one in which one of my favorite actors Paul Giamati played him.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sage 'the Adams fa-ma-lee.. da-da-da dam, da-da-da dam.