The Richmond History Podcast

Friday, April 27, 2012

John Adams The Sore Loser

John Adams by Asher B. Durand


Whether John Adams lost his bid for reelection because Alexander Hamilton conspired against him, or Jefferson's Republicans had the benefit of being strong in the south where they had the advantages of the 3/5 Compromise, or because Jefferson was a better candidate, Adams took the opportunity to show how grumpy he was.  As the first incumbent President to lose an election, Adams had the chance to set a precedent for leaving office with grace.  

March 4, 1801, Adams, "a balding, toothless cantankerous old man", got on a carriage at 4:00 am and left DC for Massachusetts, only 8 hours before Chief Justice John Marshall swore in the new president, Thomas Jefferson in the old Supreme Court Chambers.  In doing so he became the only living president to choose NOT to be there by their successor's inauguration.

In Adams defense, he had spent his last days in office grieving the death of his alcoholic son Charles who he had refused to see again.   He still looks like a pretty sore loser.


Info from Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow.

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2 comments:

  1. Your statement, "In doing so he became the only living president to choose NOT to be there by their successor's inauguration" is not correct. There have been four such instances. The one you mention, John Quincy Adams skipped Andrew Jackson's, Andrew Johnson skipped Grant's, and Woodrow Wison skipped Harding's.

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  2. Thanks for the comment. I will have to take a look at that and get it corrected. Like I said, it was from Chernow's book. Please come back. Peer review is one of the most important things in this act.

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