Hi, need to submit a 1250 words paper on the topic Contrast of John Adams to Thomas Jefferson. When he took over the Presidency of the United States of America, the country was facing grave problems due to the war between France and the British. The George Washington administration had earlier proclaimed American neutrality, a policy that was initially followed by Adams. He also sent three commissioners to Paris to negotiate a peace settlement, but the Prime Minister of France refused to entertain them until they paid him a personal bribe. The United States government took this as a huge insult and Adams appealed to the Congress to appropriate defensive funds. This whole episode is known as the XYZ affair ultimately led to the formation of a formidable naval force. But this issue, coupled with Adam’s decision to send peace envoys to Paris led to the formation of deep barriers within the Federalist Party. It resulted in the emergence of another fraction headed by Alexander Hamilton, and the rift between the two only grew wider with time. (Brown)
On the domestic front, Adams proposed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were intended to empower the government against foreign forces and public criticism. These acts were also essentially reactions to the XYZ episode. But these acts later became extremely controversial as several high profile newspaper editors were prosecuted under them. The acts were seen as being antagonistic to the essence of democracy and free thought. It also embittered the relations between the Federalists and the Republicans, a hostility that was felt in the next general elections.
John Adams was generally unpopular among the masses. He was seen as being honestly stubborn, opinionated, and politically aloof. He believed that the executive branch should stand above politics, and thus exercised abstinence from major political matters. There has been a lot of ambiguity regarding John Adams among historians. The building of a strong naval force and avoiding a full-on war with France are considered two of his major accomplishments. (The White House) But on the other hand, many of his decisions created fractions within the party. As a result, the Federalist Party was extremely divided in the 1800 general elections, as opposed to the united Republican Party. These divisions cost the party and John Adams a second term as President.
Though John Adams might not be the people’s President, he did leave behind a remarkable legacy. He introduced to America the art of avoiding war and settling disputes through diplomacy. Even when he was faced with populist defiance, he chose not to go to war with France. Another war, immediately after the War of Independence could have proved fatal for the still juvenile country. Thus, his legacy was one of a coherent vision, peace, moral leadership, and meticulous planning.