John Adams, who does not get the credit he deserves, I think falls victim to one of the problems of history. If we were to make a list of best presidents, which has been done many times, the best presidents tend to line up with the most difficult times in our history. In other words, someone like Lincoln, who I think was a great president, might be forgotten today if not for the Civil War. Perhaps a president like Millard Filmore had potential to be our greatest president, but did not have an obstacle to overcome.
Adams falls into that category. He is the most important president when it comes to independence, but when it came to the president he did not have a major obstacle. What is most interesting is that it is because of Adams that there was not a major issue. The members of his own party, led by Hamilton, actually wanted war with France. It was Adams that kept us from war. The problem is presidents are not remembered for what they didn’t do.