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John Adams deserves a statue on the Hillsdale Liberty Walk. The Walk already includes George Wash­ington and Thomas Jef­ferson to com­mem­orate the American founding. While both of these men are mer­i­to­rious figures, the absence of Adams, who was critical to the success of these men and our country, leaves the Liberty Walk incom­plete.

John Adams signed the Dec­la­ration of Inde­pen­dence and nego­tiated peace with the British in the Treaty of Paris. The end of Adams’ pres­i­dency marked the first suc­cessful transfer of power from one party to another under the new Con­sti­tution — ensuring the sta­bility of a young republic. As the author of 11 books and numerous shorter works, he was one of the most pro­lific writers of the Founding Era.

In addition to these accom­plish­ments, Adams per­formed many indis­pensable yet under­ap­pre­ciated ser­vices to the country. He recruited Jef­ferson to help draft the Dec­la­ration of Inde­pen­dence. As part of the drafting com­mittee, Adams helped temper some of Jefferson’s more radical ten­dencies, molding the Dec­la­ration into the timeless statement of truth we still recite to this day.

Fur­thermore, Adams rec­om­mended George Wash­ington as com­mander of the Con­ti­nental Con­gress. As the Rev­o­lu­tionary War pro­gressed, he raised loans from foreign coun­tries. Pulitzer prize-winning his­torian, David McCul­lough, in 2005, gave a lecture on Hillsdale’s campus  entitled “A Man Worth Knowing” in which he credits Adams for sal­vaging the Rev­o­lution, “[John Adams] got the Dutch to give us massive loans, which really saved our Rev­o­lution. We would probably have lost the war with England had it not been for Holland. He went to the Nether­lands on his own, knowing nobody. He didn’t speak Dutch. He didn’t have autho­rization from Con­gress because he was out of touch with Con­gress. But he suc­ceeded.”

While Adams’ accom­plish­ments as a statesman are more than enough to rec­ommend him as an addition to the Liberty Walk, his role in arguing for the impor­tance of edu­cation and its link to pol­itics make him espe­cially rel­evant to Hillsdale. Adams defense of the liberal arts and cit­i­zenship are the same ideals the college seeks to cul­tivate in stu­dents and praise in statesman. Adams spent his whole life devoted to this cause.

“I must study pol­itics and war that my sons may have liberty to study math­e­matics and phi­losophy.” he wrote to his wife Abigail in the midst of the Rev­o­lution. “My sons ought to study math­e­matics and phi­losophy, geog­raphy, natural history, naval archi­tecture, nav­i­gation, com­merce and agri­culture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, archi­tecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

Adams under­stood that the link between pol­itics and edu­cation meant that for freedom to last, people must not only have political freedom, they must use that freedom to educate them­selves in order to rise to self-gov­ernment. In a letter he sent to the Third Division of the Militia of Mass­a­chu­setts, Adams asserted, “Our Con­sti­tution was made only for a moral and reli­gious people. It is wholly inad­e­quate to the gov­ernment of any other.”

This sen­timent aligns with the words expressed in the pre­amble of the college’s Articles of Asso­ci­ation. Approved in 1855, the Articles state… “grateful to God for the ines­timable blessings resulting from the preva­lence of civil and reli­gious liberty and intel­ligent piety in the land, and believing that the dif­fusion of sound learning is essential to the per­pe­tuity of these blessings.”

In the years fol­lowing the passage of the Con­sti­tution, Adams used his influence to help raise funds for edu­cation so that the blessings of liberty could be pro­tected and handed down to the next gen­er­ation. A statue of Adams on Hillsdale’s campus reminds stu­dents of the impor­tance of the link between liberal edu­cation and cit­i­zenship. It is time to gaze at the Liberty Walk and see a statue of a man who embodied these ideals — a man who studied pol­itics and war so that we could study the liberal arts.

John Gage is a senior majoring in American studies.