B. Massachusetts Constitution
2. John Adams and the Rule of Law
a. Writs of Assistance
b. Boston Massacre
3. Thoughts on Government
4. Adams's Resolution Authorizes Colonies to Establish Legitimate, Independent Governments
5. Massachusetts Invents Constitutional Convention
6. John Adams Drafts Massachusetts Constitution
7. Massachusetts Constitution
C. Abigail Adams
John Adams and the Massachusetts Constitution
The Honorable Margaret Marshall, Foreword, Boston Bar Journal (January/February 2000) (quoting Andrew McLaughlin, American History and American Democracy, 20 Proceedings of the American Historical Society 225 (1915)).
See generally, Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey, "Who was James Otis, Jr.?" 77 Mass. Law Review 31-33 (1992);
Adams's quotations in this section are found in his Life and Works, 10:248.
Otis's entire argument to the Court is available at http://www.constitution.org/bor/otis_against_writs.htm.
Life and Works, 10:248
Much of the material in this section is drawn from the Boston Public Library's exhibit, "Riot and the Rule of Law: The Boston Massacre, John Adams and the Trial of 1770," on display from January 14-March 6, 2005. See also The Honorable Hiller Zobel, The Boston Massacre (1996); McCullough, John Adams 65-68 (2001). See also http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/bostonmassacre/bostonmassacre.html for an extensive online collection of materials and accounts of this trial, including John Adams's closing argument in the soldiers' trial.
Attorney Josiah Quincy assisted Adams in his role as defense counsel.
Patriot-created propaganda included Revere's famous engraved print depicting British soldiers shooting into a crowd of unarmed colonists. See http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/bostonmassacre/massacrereverelarge.jpg
McCullough at 68.
The two convicted soldiers invoked "the benefit of clergy," a plea that reduced their punishment to the branding of their thumbs.
Adams, Legal Papers III (ed. Zobel and Wirth 1966) at 33.
Thoughts on Government is available online at: www.teachingamericanhistory.org.
In Thoughts on Government, Adams was in part responding to Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense, published in January 1776. Though agreeing with Paine's call for American independence, Adams was disturbed by Paine's "feeble" understanding of constitutional government and his view that a unicameral legislature would provide an adequate foundation for government. David McCullough, John Adams 96-97 (2001).
Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1878 306-343(ed. 1998).
See McCullough, supra note 3 at 108-110; Richard Bernstein, The Revolution and State Constitution-Making and Legal Reform (available at http:revolution.h-net.msu.edu/essays/bernstein.constitutions.html).
Adams was the first American advocate of constitutional conventions. See C. Bradley Thompson, John Adams and the Spirit of Liberty 40-41 (1998).
Wood, supra note 4 at 342 (describing a constitutional convention as an "extraordinary invention," perhaps "the most distinctive institutional contribution the American Revolutionaries made to Western politics").
McCullough, supra note 3 at p. 220.
These essays are available online at http://oll.libertyfund.org/ToC/0077.php
Additionally, within the fifteen years following adoption of the Massachusetts Constitution, nearly every state adopted Massachusetts' overall structure of government. In contrast, some earlier state constitutions, such as Pennsylvania's, had a one-house legislature and an executive and judiciary fully created and controlled by the legislature. See Bernstein, supra note 3.
For an extensive electronic collection of these letters, see http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/index.html