Date of Award

Fall 2007

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts


John Adams was central to the founding of the United States and has held enduring interest among many generations including his own. The foundation of Adams as a historical character was constructed both by people he interacted with personally and by the turmoil of politics, casting him in roles with conflicting results. After his death, Adams was placed in a variety of roles as a historical character as people struggled to make sense of the contentious decades leading up and including the Civil War. After the Civil War, a more sophisticated "warts and all" portrayal of John Adams as a historical character as American historical identity was reexamined. The ways Adams was constructed and used as a historical character illuminates issues surrounding cultural history, historiography and conceptualization of the American Revolution by historians. That use also highlights recent interest in John Adams.