John Adams and the Coming of the Revolution

10 October 2016

In the story “John Adams and the Coming of the Revolution”, author David McCullough discusses how John Adams was asked to defend the British soldiers in court of the soldier’s accusation of man slaughter, following the Boston Massacre. Being such a problematic case that could ruin his reputation, John Adams accepted to defend the soldiers because of his experience in difficult cases, and his strong principles and beliefs. John Adam’s reputation did not even tarnish because of how skillfully he handled the case gaining the respect of the people of Boston.

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John Adams was asked to defend the soldiers and their captain in court the day after the shootings. The soldiers had the odds against them. They were in an American court, with an American judge, and an American jury. No one else was bold enough to take on case as precarious as this case was. McCullough went on to state that John accepted this case because he strongly believed that no man in a free country should be denied the right to counsel and a fair trial (92).

Adams knew what troubles he was getting himself into taking on a case like this and the repercussions it had. It would not have been his first difficult case, as he took on a similar case that involved four American sailors killing a British naval officer in self-defense that boarded the American ship. The captain was given a separate trial from the soldiers. Adam’s argued that it couldn’t be proven whether or not the captain gave orders to fire, and with a virtuoso performance given by Adams, the captain was found not guilty.

In the second trial, John Adams defended the eight soldiers. He started off by saying “I am for the prisoners at bar” (93) invoking a line from the Marchese di Beccaria. Adams went on to argue that it was not the soldiers who started the tragedy; it was the mob of people. He portrays the soldiers as the victims who were merely just defending themselves after being howled at by the mob while also having snow balls, stones, oyster shells thrown at them.

Adams also went on to describe the mob as a group of vandals pointing out the majority of the crowd was lower class rather than shavers or geniuses He finally states how the many mob members should be the ones guilty of the crime but escape unpunished whereas the smaller numbers of soldiers are innocent but are the ones being punished, showing the importance of fairness in the community regardless of the crime. In the end, verdict found six out of eight of the soldiers not guilty.

Only two of the soldiers were guilty of manslaughter. The reaction of the verdict was angry, but no riots occurred. Although he took a lot of criticism, John Adams became more respected in the long run. With such passion to stand up for what is right, John Adams’s reputation grew rapidly. He was known for defending what he believed in, and establishing the principal that everyone deserves a fair trial, whether you are innocent or guilty of the crime.

This led him to be elected as a representative to the Massachusetts legislature. Out of all the cases John Adams, admitted that it was one of the most exhausting cases, but also one of the best pieces of services he ever did for his country. It is easily safe to say that John Adams was prideful about this case, and his strong principles and beliefs about a fair trial chose him to take this case on, and remain one of the most respected men in his time.

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