Adams, John

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Born on October 30, 1735, in Quincy, Massachusetts, e was a direct descendant of Puritan colonists from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He studied at Harvard University, where he received his undergraduate degree and master’s, and in 1758 was admitted to the bar. In 1774, he served on the First Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Adams became the first vice president of the United States and the second president.

Early Life

John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts. His father, John Adams Sr., was a farmer, a Congregationalist deacon and a town councilman, and was a direct descendant of Henry Adams, a Puritan who emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638. His mother, Susanna Boylston Adams, was a descendant of the Boylstons of Brookline, a prominent family in colonial Massachusetts.

At age 16, Adams earned a scholarship to attend Harvard University. After graduating in 1755, at age 20, Adams studied law in the office of James Putnam, a prominent lawyer, despite his father’s wish for him to enter the ministry. In 1758, he earned a master’s degree from Harvard and was admitted to the bar.

Political Career

Adams quickly became identified with the patriot cause, initially as the result of his opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. He wrote a response to the imposition of the act by British Parliament titled “Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law,” which was published as a series of four articles in the Boston Gazette. In it, Adams argued that the Stamp Act deprived American colonists of the basic rights to be taxed by consent and to be tried by a jury of peers. Two months later Adams also publicly denounced the act as invalid in a speech delivered to the Massachusetts governor and his council.In 1770, Adams agreed to represent the British soldiers on trial for killing five civilians in what became known as the Boston Massacre. He justified defending the soldiers on the grounds that the facts of a case were more important to him than the passionate inclinations of the people. He believed that every person deserved a defense, and he took the case without hesitation. During the trial Adams presented evidence that suggested blame also lay with the mob that had gathered, and that the first soldier who fired upon the crowd was simply responding the way anyone would when faced with a similar life-threatening situation.

The jury acquitted six of the eight soldiers, while two were convicted of manslaughter. Reaction to Adams’s defense of the soldiers was hostile, and his law practice suffered greatly. However, his actions later enhanced his reputation as a courageous, generous and fair man.That same year, Adams was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly and was one of five to represent the colony at the First Continental Congress, in 1774. When Congress created the Continental Army in 1775, Adams nominated George Washington of Virginia as its commander-in-chief.In May 1776, Congress approved Adams’s resolution proposing that the colonies each adopt independent governments. He wrote the preamble to this resolution, which was approved on May 15, setting the stage for the formal passage of the Declaration of Independence. On June 7, 1776, Adams seconded Richard Henry Lee’s resolution of independence, and backed it passionately until it was adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776. Congress appointed Adams, along with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman, to draft the declaration. Jefferson would write the first draft, which was approved on July 4.Adams was soon serving on as many as 90 committees in the fledgling government, more than any other Congressman, and in 1777, he became head of the Board of War and Ordinance, which oversaw the Continental army. In 1779, Adams was one of the American diplomats sent to negotiate the Treaty of Paris, which brought an end to the Revolutionary War. After the war, Adams remained in Europe, and from 1784 to 1785 he arranged treaties of commerce with several European nations. In 1785 he became the first U.S. minister to England.In 1788, Adams returned home after nearly 10 years in Europe. In 1789, he was placed on the ballot for America’s first presidential election. As expected, George Washington received the highest number of electoral votes and was elected president. In accordance with the Constitutional provision set for presidential elections at that time, Adams was designated Vice President. The same result occurred in the 1792 election. During both terms, Adams grew increasingly frustrated with his position as he did not have much sway with Washington on political or legal issues.

Presidency

In 1796, Adams was elected as the Federalist nominee for president. Thomas Jefferson led the opposition for the Democratic-Republican Party. Adams won the election by a narrow margin, becoming the second president of the United States.During Adams’s presidency, a war between the French and British was causing political difficulties for the United States. Adams’s administration focused its diplomatic efforts on France, whose government had suspended commercial relations. Adams sent three commissioners to France, but the French refused to negotiate unless the United States agreed to pay what amounted to a bribe. When this became public knowledge, the nation broke out in favor of war. However, Adams did not call for a declaration of war, despite some naval hostilities.By 1800, this undeclared war had ended, and Adams had become significantly less popular with the public. He lost his re-election campaign in 1800, with only a few less electoral votes than Thomas Jefferson, who became president.

Personal Life

On October 25, 1764, five days before his 29th birthday, Adams married Abigail Smith, his third cousin. They had six children, Abigail (1765), John Quincy (1767), Susanna (1768), Charles (1770), Thomas Boylston (1772) and Elizabeth (1777).Adams found himself regularly away from his family, a sacrifice that both he and Abigail saw as important to the cause, though Abigail was often unhappy.After his presidency, Adams lived quietly with Abigail on their family farm in Quincy, where he continued to write and to correspond with his friend Thomas Jefferson. Both Adams and Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American independence. Adams’s last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

John Quincy Adams, Adams’s son, would eventually become the sixth president of the United States, though he was a member of the opposition party, the Democratic-Republicans.

Was He Really a Enemy of Chrisitians?

Posted in the “Historical Documents” section of our website is a, letter from John Adams to Dr. Benjamin Rush (a close friend of Adams and a co-signer of the Declaration of Independence). That letter was Adams’ reply to a remarkable letter written him by Dr. Rush on October 17, 1809, describing a dream Rush believed God had given him about Adams. WallBuilders providentially obtained this original letter from an amazing presidential collection of a 100+ year old Floridian woman.

We often use quotes from that letter, including Adams’ bold declaration that:

The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this Earth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost. . . . There is no authority, civil or religious – there can be no legitimate government – but that which is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or in more orthodox words, damnation. 1

This letter certainly contains profound Christian content, but that is not particularly surprising, for Adams wrote dozens of letters with similarly powerful Christian declarations. Also not surprising is the fact that liberals and atheists have attacked this letter and its content; they dismiss it with the excuse that Adams didn’t really mean what he said in the letter, or that it was code for something different from what he actually said. But what was surprising and unexpected is that this letter and its remarkable content did not set well with some Christians, especially Chris Pinto. Pinto has produced videos claiming not only that America does not have a Biblical foundation but specifically asserting that the Founding Fathers were largely pagans who represented the spirit of the Anti-Christ. He believes that Christians should not be involved in the political arena or similar areas of culture. 2

Pinto seems to have developed a fixation with WallBuilders, joining with liberals and atheists to demean it and the Founding Fathers. For example, in one video he prepared against me and the Founding Fathers, he specifically addressed the John Adams letter we posted, claiming:

Barton makes it appear as if John Adams was speaking favorably about the Holy Ghost in a letter he wrote to Benjamin Rush. In reality, Adams was mocking the idea of “Holy Ghost authority” and called Christians “dupes” for believing in it. 3

Pinto concludes:

In truth, the letter Barton is presenting provides some of the most damning evidence found anywhere, and is consistent with many of the writings of the Revolutionaries, proving their contempt for Bible-based Christianity. In this letter, John Adams was not speaking in approval of the Holy Ghost, but was rather mocking the idea of it and of the faith of true Christians. . . . Adams did not believe the Holy Ghost was real, and he spoke about it in what can only be called insulting and irreverent terms. 4

Normally, we simply ignore these types of absurd claims, for we believe that the truth speaks for itself and that it will always eventually prevail. In fact, this is why we post so many original and hand-written Founding documents and letters online – we want individuals to see and read them for themselves to be personally aware of what is and is not true. It is important to follow the model praised by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:11: always check original sources to establish truth. This is why we heavily document quotes and facts back to original sources – such as our best-selling book Original Intent: it contains some 1,700 footnotes, the vast majority of which are dated to primary-source documents published while the Founders were still alive.

(By the way, a notable ACLU attorney decided he would disprove our thesis that the Founding Fathers were largely Christian. He therefore took Original Intent and undertook a project to expose what he considered to be its falsehoods; he went back and checked our quotes against the original sources cited in the book. At the end of his research, he concluded that we had understated the faith of the Founders – that there was actually much more evidence to support their Christian faith than even what we had cited. This ACLU attorney was completely converted and went on to become an eminent court of appeals judge – all because he followed Paul’s model of Acts 17:11 and checked the evidence for himself. We have numerous similar testimonials of the dramatic change that has occurred in individuals who investigated the original facts for themselves.)

So although we typically do not respond to critics such as Pinto, in this case, his videos have confused many Christians who have respectfully asked us to help them sort out the facts and discern the truth. Hence we have chosen to address Pinto’s patently false claims about John Adams.

Significantly, Pinto reached his conclusions that John Adams was mocking the Holy Spirit only by ignoring, omitting, or not understanding lengthy and important segments of Adams’ letter (which is why we posted the complete letter online: to make it much harder for individuals to twist and distort its true meaning). When the segments that Pinto ignored or did not understand are returned to the letter, it becomes obvious that his premises have been infected with three of the five historical malpractices that characterize the current study of history: Modernism, Minimalism, and Deconstructionism (the other two of the five are Poststructuralism and Academic Collectivism, which Pinto also uses in other areas of his videos).

Modernism is the practice of analyzing historical incidents and persons as if they lived now rather than in the past. Modernism separates history from its context and setting – a practice that regularly produces flawed conclusions.

An illustration of Modernism is the manner in which today’s textbooks uniformly portray the colonial Puritans as intolerant Christians because of the witch trials in which twenty-seven individuals died. 5 But universally ignored is the fact that witch trials were occurring across the world at that time, not just in America; and in Europe alone, 500,000 were put to death, 6 including 30,000 in England, 75,000 in France, and 100,000 in Germany. 7 Additionally, the American witch trials lasted two months, but the European trials lasted for years. 8 Furthermore, the Massachusetts witch trials were brought to a close when Christian leaders such as the Rev. John Wise, the Rev. Increase Mather, and Thomas Brattle challenged the trials because Biblical rules of evidence and Due Process were not being followed in the courts. 9 Consequently:

The trials were stopped by Governor Phipps in October, 1692, and five years later the Massachusetts Court publicly repented and set apart a special day of fasting and prayer, that prayers might be offered, asking for forgiveness for “the late tragedy raised amongst us by Satan,” while the twelve jurors published a declaration of sorrow for accepting insufficient evidence against the accused, and Judge Sewall rose in his pew in the South Church and made public confession of his sense of guilt. 10

This is no attempt to defend the inexcusable twenty-seven deaths, but it is undeniable that the so-called “intolerant” conduct of the Puritans was light-years ahead of their “enlightened” contemporaries throughout the rest of the “civilized” Old World of Europe. As early church historian Charles Galloway affirmed, when the Puritans “are compared to their brothers in England and all Europe, they stand out as reformers of the most advanced and majestic type.” 11 To accurately portray historic events and individuals (whether it is the Puritans or John Adams), their words and actions must be measured not by today’s thinking and customs but rather in light of what was occurring in their own times – which is what Pinto does not do.

Let’s begin by looking at the extended portion of the letter that Pinto claims contains Adams’ alleged blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this Earth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Holy Ghost, Who is transmitted from age to age by laying the hands of the Bishop on the heads of candidates for the ministry. In the same manner, as the Holy Ghost is transmitted from monarch to monarch by the holy oil in the vial at Rheims which was brought down from Heaven by a dove and by that other phial [vial] which I have seen in the Tower of London. There is no authority civil or religious, there can be no legitimate government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost. There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or in more orthodox words, damnation. Although this is all artifice and cunning in the sacred original in the heart, yet they all believe it so sincerely that they would lay down their lives under the ax or the fiery fagot [bundle of wood used for burning individuals at the stake] for it. Alas, the poor weak ignorant dupe, human nature. There is so much king craft, priest craft, gentlemens craft, peoples craft, doctors craft, lawyers craft, merchants craft, tradesmens craft, laborers craft, and Devils craft in the world that it seems a desperate [hopeless] and impractical project to undeceive it. Do you wonder that Voltaire and Paine have made proselytes [converts]? Yet there [is] near as much subtlety, craft, and hypocrisy in Voltaire and Paine, and more, too, than in Ignatius Loyola [a Spanish knight who was a founder of the Jesuits]. 12

Recall from above that in Pinto’s analysis of this section he claims that Adams . . .

was mocking the idea of “Holy Ghost authority” and called Christians “dupes” for believing in it. . . . Adams was not speaking in approval of the Holy Ghost, but was rather mocking the idea of it and of the faith of true Christians. . . . Adams did not believe the Holy Ghost was real, and he spoke about it in what can only be called insulting and irreverent terms. 13

Is Pinto correct? Was Adams mocking Christians and the Holy Ghost? Absolutely not – which will be irrefutably proved below. But the fact that Pinto believes that Adams is insulting Christians and the Holy Spirit demonstrates not only that he employed Modernism but also the second device of historical malpractice: Minimalism.

Minimalism is an unreasonable insistence on over-simplicity – on using simplistic platitudes to reduce everything to monolithic causes and linear effects. As an example, citizens today are regularly taught that America separated from Great Britain because of “taxation without representation,” yet that issue was only one of twenty-seven grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence – and it was actually one of the lesser complaints. While only one grievance in the Declaration addressed taxation without representation, eleven addressed the abuse of representative powers; seven the abuse of military powers; four the abuse of judicial powers; and two the stirring up of domestic insurrection. Taxation without representation was only grievance number seventeen out of the twenty-seven, listed alongside Great Britain’s suppression of immigration and her interference with our foreign trade. While the taxation issue was given little emphasis in the Declaration, Minimalism causes it to virtually be the only issue covered today, thus giving citizens a skewed view of the American Revolution and what caused it.

Minimalism is what Pinto practices in his analysis of Adams’ letter. Rather than delving into the complex areas of church history that Adams directly references several times in the letter, Pinto just dismisses them out of hand, rashly claiming that Adams was being irreverent.

Six key phrases Adams used in the letter unequivocally prove that he was not mocking the Holy Spirit or Christianity:

  • “monarch to monarch”
  • “the holy oil in the vial at Rheims”
  • “brought down from Heaven by a dove”
  • “that other phial which I have seen in the Tower of London”
  • “king craft”
  • “priest craft”

Each of these phrases is a direct reference to a particular period and a definite incident in church history – a history early set forth and ably expounded by the Rev. John Wise (1652-1725) of Massachusetts, considered by prominent historians as one of the six greatest intellectual leaders responsible for shaping American thinking. 14 Wise’s works and sermons were read and widely studied across early America, including by the leading patriots and Founding Fathers. Wise divided the general history of Christianity into three epochs, and all six of Adams’ phrases refer to specific occurrences in one of those periods.

Period I includes the three centuries of Christianity immediately following the life of Christ. According to Wise, this was “the most refined and purest time, both as to faith and manners, that the Christian church has been honored with.” 15 Period I is the “Period of Purity,” and Jesus’ followers throughout that time largely did just what He had taught them to do.

Period II spans the next twelve centuries, and according to Wise, it was a period that “openly proclaimed itself to the scandal of the Christian religion.” 16 The State took control of the Church, with the State decreeing Christianity to be the official religion of the State and all other religions illegal. 17 This was a time of “the secularization of the Church and the depravation of Christianity” 18 – a time when the State seized and corrupted the Church and its doctrines, wrongly asserting “that one of the chief duties of an imperial ruler was to place his sword at the service of the Church and orthodoxy.” 19 Christianity became coercive through brutal civil laws attempting to enforce theological orthodoxy.

This age was characterized by autocratic leaders in both State and Church, with monarchies and theocracies (usually oppressive ones) as the primary forms of governance. The Founders frequently described Period II as a time of “kingcraft” and “priestcraft” – a time when kings and priests joined together against the people, using selfish ambition to gain personal wealth and power. 20

Period II is called the “Period of Apostasy” or “Period of Corruption,” and during this time, the Church was no longer a collection of individuals joined together in a voluntary association; instead it became a civil hierarchy overseeing a massive organization and numerous facilities. The individual follower of Christ was no longer of consequence; the common man was forbidden access to the Scriptures and education; tyrannical leaders became the pinnacle of consideration. The emphasis shifted from the personal to the structural, from the individual to the institutional – an anti-Biblical paradigm that prevailed for the next twelve centuries. Nearly all the negative incidents in world history associated with Christianity (e.g., the Inquisition, wholesale murder of Jews, tortures, etc.) are almost exclusively from this period of Christian corruption.

Period III, according to Wise, is that which “began a glorious reformation.” Wise explains: “Many famous persons, memorable in ecclesiastical history, being moved by the Spirit of God and according to Holy Writ, led the way in the face of all danger . . . for the good of Christendom.” 21 Early seeds of this change began with the efforts of numerous Christian leaders, including John Wycliffe (1320-1384), called the “Morning Star of the Reformation.” Nearly two dozen other Christian leaders also worked to spread Bible teachings across their respective countries, including Englishmen such as Thomas Cranmer, William Tyndale, John Rogers, and Miles Coverdale; Czechs such as John Huss and Jerome of Prague; Germans Martin Luther, Thomas Münzer, Andreas Carlstadt, and Kaspar von Schwenkfeld; Swiss Ulrich Zwingli; Frenchmen William Farel and John Calvin; Scotsmen John Knox and George Wishart; Dutchmen Jacobus Arminius, Desiderius Erasmus, and Menno Simons; and others.

This third era, called the “Period of Reformation,” emphasized a return to the Bible as the guidebook for all aspects of life and living. It therefore rekindled many of Christianity’s original teachings, including the Priesthood of the Believer (emphasizing that the individual had direct access to God without need of assistance from any official in Church or State) and Justification by Faith (emphasizing the importance of personal faith and an individual’s personal relationship with the Savior). The renewed Period III Biblical emphasis on the individual altered the way that both Church and State were viewed, thus resulting in new demands and expectations being placed upon each. Self-government and freedom of conscience were advocated for both institutions.

But such Bible teachings were not embraced by all, for they threatened the previously uncontested power of tyrants. Consequently, ruthless leaders in both State and Church initiated bloody purges, utilizing the most cruel tortures and barbaric persecutions to suppress the followers of the renewed Biblical teachings. For example, French leaders conducted the famous St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of September 17, 1585, eventually killing 110,000 French Reformation followers (i.e., Huguenots). Some 400,000 others fled France to avoid death and persecution, with many coming to America, especially South Carolina and New York.

Similarly, English leaders such as King Henry VIII attempted to suppress the Reformation’s individualistic teachings by public executions and burnings at the stake; and Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth I, and subsequent monarchs continued those efforts. In fact, King James I even concocted two revolutionary new government-church “doctrines” to help him suppress the growing influence of Reformation teachings in England: the Divine Right of Kings, and Complete Submission and Non-Resistance to Authority.

Not surprisingly, Reformation followers (often known as “Dissenters” for opposing, or dissenting against, the autocratic and tyrannical practices of both State and Church) openly opposed James’ “irrational and unscriptural doctrines,” 22 thus prompting him to level additional brutal persecutions against them, including mutilation, hanging, and disemboweling. The Pilgrims came to Massachusetts in 1620 to escape the hounding persecution of King James, and a decade later, 20,000 Puritans also fled England after many received life sentences (or had their noses slit, ears cut off, or a brand placed on their foreheads) for adhering to Reformation teachings.

Despite the brutal worldwide persecution, the Reformation eventually prevailed, resulting in massive changes in both State and Church, finally bringing to an end the corrupt practices of Period II Christianity. The impact of Reformation Christianity upon nations during this period was almost exclusively positive, especially in America, where Reformation teachings took root and grew more quickly than in the rest of the world, having been planted in virgin soil completely uncontaminated by the apostasy of the previous twelve centuries.

American Founding Fathers and leaders (including John Adams) made a clear distinction between America’s Period III Christianity and Europe’s Period II Christianity. For example, Noah Webster emphatically declared:

The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion, but abuses and corruptions of it. 23

Daniel Webster agreed, rejoicing that American Christianity was . . .

Christianity to which the sword and the fagot [bundles of wood for burning individuals at the stake] are unknown – general tolerant Christianity is the law of the land! 24

Other Founding Fathers made similar distinctions, including John Jay (the original Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court and a co-author of the Federalist Papers), who declared that the Period III Christianity practiced in America was “wise and virtuous,” 25 and John Quincy Adams described it as “civilized” 26 – terms certainly not associated with Period II Christianity.

Significantly, the six phrases identified above from Adams’ letter all refer to specific Period II perversions of orthodox Biblical teachings regarding the Holy Spirit; but Pinto, in his practice of Modernism and Minimalism, ignored all of Adams’ references to this. Consider what Pinto missed by disregarding Adams’ first three aforementioned phrases: “monarch to monarch,” “the holy oil in the vial at Rheims,” and “brought down from Heaven by a dove.”

In 496 AD in the city of Reims, Clovis was converted to Christianity and anointed King of France. Four centuries later, the Archbishop of Reims, attempting to convince the people that kings were the sovereign choice of God to rule the nation, claimed that when Clovis was about to be made king, the anointing oil could not be found. Perplexed as to what to do, the Archbishop claimed that God Himself miraculously sent from Heaven a dove (which church leaders believed to be the Holy Spirit) that carried down to earth a vial of special anointing oil.

This oil was kept in the Cathedral of Reims, and over the next millennia was used to anoint every French king (except one). Whenever the oil was moved or utilized in a coronation, it was accompanied by fifty guards, led by a high priest adorned in golden garb and jewels – reminiscent of the high priest in the Bible moving the Ark of the Covenant.

French tyrants in Church and State used this so-called “doctrine” that holy oil was carried from Heaven by the Holy Spirit to keep the people subjugated to the deplorable heresy of the Divine Right of Kings – a doctrine hated by every Reformation follower and student of the Bible. Thus Adams’ statement that “the Holy Ghost is transmitted from monarch to monarch by the holy oil in the vial at Rheims which was brought down from Heaven by a dove” is a direct reference to very specific and corrupt church doctrines of Period II.

Given the power that the oil of Reims exercised over the minds of the people, it is not surprising that monarchs in other nations, including England, wanted something similar for their own use. English king Edward II (1284-1327 AD) therefore claimed that the anointing oil he used for his coronation was given by the Virgin Mary directly to St. Thomas of Canterbury, who performed the ceremony. This vial of oil was kept safely sequestered under lock and key, to be used only for anointing new kings. This is what Adams described as “that other phial [vial] which I have seen in the Tower of London.” Adams had been America’s diplomat to France and to England, and he had first-hand knowledge of how their “holy” oil and its accompanying doctrine was used in both countries to subjugate the people under the influence of “kingcraft” and “priestcraft” – two more key phrases that Pinto also disregarded.

Adams despised the claim that either the French and British vials of oil had been brought from Heaven by the Holy Spirit. He believed that this false doctrine had caused incomparable suffering in the world. The French people finally came to the same conclusion, for following the French Revolution, they entered the Cathedral at Reims and broke the vial of oil so that it could never again be used to anoint another French tyrant to rule their nation.

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