Date of Award

Spring 1984

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

James L. Bugg, Jr.

Committee Member

John Kuehl

Committee Member

William Jones


John Adams was an American Revolutionary leader, political theorist, diplomat, constitutionalist, vice-president, and president. His historical image, however, has not been consistent with his importance in American history. Controversial throughout his lifetime, the Adams image, since his death has been at times obscure, often negative, and seldom positive. Adams had a fear of posterity's perception of his life. Until recent years this fear was confirmed by his historical treatment.

This thesis considers the divergence in the historical treatment of John Adams by analyzing historians who represented five periods in American historiography. It is, therefore, a study of what history made of John Adams. The thesis centers around the belief that by looking at the different phases of the historical interpretation of John Adams, the misunderstanding and confusion which surrounded his image can be lessened to such an extent that John Adams can be seen as a vital part of the American heritage.