John Adams photo

John Adams Event Timeline

John Adams (2) Event Timeline

03/04/1797 – 03/04/1801

1797

 

02/08/1797

Electoral votes tabulated in Congress. Adams, the Federalist nominee, received 71 votes and became President. Jefferson, the Democratic-Republican nominee received 68 and became Vice-President. (The original language in Article II specified that the top vote-getter would be President, and second would be Vice-President.)

02/09/1797

Notifies the Senate of his intent to take the Oath of Office in the House of Representatives.

03/04/1797

Inaugural Address. Adams retains Washington’s Cabinet, a decision he comes to regret because of their relationship to Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton and Adams contested for leadership of the Federalists.

03/25/1797

Calls the first special session of Congress to begin 05/15/1797 to discuss mounting tensions with France.

05/16/1797

Addresses a Joint Session of Congress on current conflicts with France and the difficulty of defending the long U.S. coastline and commercial shipping. In a reply from the Senate this speech was referred to as addressing the “state of the Union.”

05/31/1797

Nominates three officials (Pinckney, Dana, Marshall) a peace commission to negotiate with France. The Senate confirms the three on 06/05/1797. After Dana declined on grounds of health, Adams nominated Gerry in his place 06/20/1797. The Senate concurred on 6/22/1797. The US commissioners in France were asked for bribes by three persons referred to in dispatches back to the U.S. as “X, Y, and Z.” This came to be called the “XYZ Affair.” (See below 04/03/1798).

06/12/1797

Message to Congress recommending formation of “a government in the district of the Natchez”—later called the Mississippi Territory.

06/24/1797

Signs an Act authorizing the President to require state executives to organize, arm, and equip a militia force of 80,000, “in readiness to march at a moment’s warning.” [Link to pdf of the Act.].

07/22/1797

Proclamation 7:  Commencement of the US Mint. Foreign coins are no longer legal tender.

11/22/1797

First Annual Address to Congress. “I hold it most certain that permanent tranquillity and order will not soon be obtained. . . . we should make every exertion to protect our commerce and to place our country in a suitable posture of defense. . . The national defense must be provided for as well as the support of Government; but both should be accomplished as much as possible by immediate taxes, and as little as possible by loans.”

11/28/1797

Exchange of views with the Senate involves agreement on the need for a “mercantile marine and a military marine.”

1798

 

01/08/1798

The Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, establishing the principle of state sovereign immunity in federal court.

01/17/1798

Appoints commissioners to negotiate a treaty between the United States and the Cherokee Indians.

02/05/1978

Special Message to Congress relaying a report of an attack by a French ship on an English ship at Charleston Harbor. He sends the information “to shew the propriety and necessity of enabling the Executive authority of the Government to take measures for protecting the citizens. . . “

03/05/1798

Special Message relaying to Congress dispatches from France. [Link to text of the dispatch.] The message states that France will no longer consider to be neutral any ship with merchandise from England or that had “touched” at an English port.

03/19/1798

Special Message reporting failure of negotiations with France. “I perceive no ground of expectation that the objects of their mission can be accomplished on terms compatible with the safety, the honor, or the essential interests of the nation.”

04/03/1798

Informs Congress of the details of the XYZ affair, in which France requested bribes from American diplomats, resulting in increased tensions between the two countries. The documents concerning the XYZ affair are available at this link.

04/07/1798

Signs Act establishing the Mississippi Territory on land acquired from Spain through the Treaty of Madrid in 1795. The law prohibits importing slaves to the territory from outside the United States. [Link to a pdf text of the law.]

04/30/1798

Signs “An Act to establish an Executive department, to be denominated as the Department of the Navy.” [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.] The Secretary of the Navy will have responsibility (subject to Presidential direction) for “construction, armament, equipment and employment of vessels of war, as well as all other matters connected with the naval establishment of the United States.”

05/28/1798

Signs “An Act authorizing the President of the United States to raise a Provisional Army.” In the event of an invasion or “imminent danger of such invasion” the President may call into service up to 10,000 “non-commissioned officers, musicians and privates.” This refers to a Federal Army not the militia forces considered in June 1797. [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.].

05/21/1798

The Senate consents to the nomination of Benjamin Stoddert as first Secretary of the Navy.

07/02/1798

Nominates George Washington to be Lieutenant-General and Commander in Chief of the Army—but without first receiving Washington’s agreement. The Senate unanimously consents to the appointment on 07/03/1798.

06/18/1798;
06/25/1798;
07/06/1798;
07/14/1798

Signs a series of acts known collectively as the “Alien and Sedition Acts” and set to expire on March 4, 1801.

1. Amendments to the Naturalization Act of 1795 (06/18/1798) among other things requires registration of resident aliens; failure to register can result in jail. No alien from a nation at war with the US can become a citizen. [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.]

2. The “Act concerning Aliens (06/25/1798) gives the President authority to deport “such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States.” [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.]

3. The “Act respecting Alien Enemies” (07/06/1798) stated that in the event of actual or threatened invasion, residents in the US from the threatening nation could be “apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies.” [See pdf of text of the Act.]

4. “An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States,” the Sedition Act. This makes it a crime to conspire “to impede the operation of any law” or to prevent an officer of the government from performing his duty; or “advise or attempt to procure any insurrection, riot, unlawful assembly or combination.” [See pdf of text of the Act.].

07/07/1798

Signs an Act of Congress abrogating treaties with France. [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.]

07/09/1798

Signs an “Act further to protect the Commerce of the United States,” authorizing US vessels “to subdue, seize and take any armed French vessel, which shall be found within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, or elsewhere, on the high seas. . .” [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.] This begins the two-year undeclared naval war called the Quasi-War.

07/13/1798

In a letter to Adams, Washington accepts the appointment of Commander, to assume the duties when “the Army is in a situation to require my presence.” Adams transmits Washington’s letter to the Senate on 07/17/1798. Washington had previously informed Secretary of War McHenry that he would only accept certain major generals, foremost Alexander Hamilton (who was at odds with Adams).

07/14/1798

Signs “An Act to lay and collect a direct tax within the United States” taxing dwellings, land, and slaves. The was to be a temporary tax to raise funds for a war with France, which many believed to be coming. [Link to pdf of the text of the act.]. The administrative structure to create lists and assess property, empowering commissioners to do the work had been signed on 07/09/1798. [Link to pdf of the text of the act.] This tax generated widespread opposition.

07/16/1798

Signs “An Act to Augment the Army of the United States,” that authorizes and directs in detail the composition of the Army. [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.]

07/18/1798

Adams nominates 14 to be leading officers in the Army, foremost among them, Alexander Hamilton, to be Inspector General.

11/10/1798

The Kentucky Resolution specifically attacks the Sedition Act as an unconstitutional invasion of power restricted to the States. This resolution was drafted primarily by Thomas Jefferson, and articulated a version of the “nullification doctrine.”

12/08/1798

Second Annual Address to Congress. Remarks on the epidemics of yellow fever sweeping major cities and recommends an increase in Navy personnel.

12/21/1798

The Virginia Resolution protests the Alien and Sedition Acts for various reasons including that it “is levelled against that right of freely examining public characters and measures. . . the only effectual guardian of every other right.” This Resolution was drafted by James Madison.

1799

 

01/15/1799

About this date, officials attempted to serve subpoenas to enforce the payment of taxes due in Bucks County, PA., and were met with resistance, eventually violence.

02/25/1799

Nominates as new envoys to France: William Vans Murray, US ambassador to the Netherlands; Oliver Ellsworth, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (who continues in that role); and Patrick Henry, former Governor of Virginia; as envoys to France. The Senate confirms on 02/27/1799. Henry declines and in June 1799 is replaced by William Richardson Davie. These envoys help to end the Quasi-War.

03/12/1799

Proclamation 9: Calls forth military force to end an armed rebellion (“Fries Rebellion”) by Pennsylvania Dutch farmers in opposition to a new federal property tax. Violence had erupted on 03/06/1799 in Bucks County.

10/28/1799

Thomas Cooper is convicted of libel under the Alien and Sedition Acts for publishing a broadside critical of Adams.

12/03/1799

Third Annual Address to Congress. Reports that the rebellion in Pennsylvania has been contained. But notes that “On the one hand, the laws should be executed; on the other, individuals should be guarded from oppression. Neither of these objects is sufficiently assured under the present organization of the judicial department.” Advises that removal of the National government to Washington is now practicable.

02/06/1799

Refers to Congress aTreaty of Amity” signed between United States and Prussia on 07/11/1799.

12/14/1799

George Washington dies at Mount Vernon and is buried four days later. Adams officially notifies the House and Senate on 12/19/1799, and receives official condolences from both bodies on 12/23/1799. Link to an account of Washington’s Death at the National Library at Mount Vernon.

1800

 

01/17/1800

Signs “Act for the preservation of peace with the Indian Tribes” providing for punishment for any person resident in the US who communicates with Indian Tribes with the intent of disturbing the peace and tranquillity of the United States. [Link to pdf of text of the Act.]

02/20/1800

Signs an Act suspending further enlistment in the Army pursuant to the act of 07/16/1798, “unless war shall break out between the United States and the French Republic.” [Link to pdf of the text of the Act.]

03/21/1800

The House is informed of a naval defeat of the French frigate La Vengeance by the US frigate Constellation on 02/91/1860.

04/04/1800

Signs the Bankruptcy Act of 1800, which is repealed by Congress in 1803. [Link to pdf of the text of the law.]

04/24/1800

Signs an act providing for the removal of the government from Philadelphia to the city Washington. This includes an allocation of $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress—presaging the founding of the Library of Congress. [Link to pdf of the text of the law.]

05/03/1800

Federalist Caucus renominates Adams for President and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney for Vice-President. Shortly thereafter the Republicans select Jefferson and Burr.

05/05/1800

Begins what has been called a “cabinet purge.” Secretary of War McHenry resigns 05/06/1800. Secretary of State Pickering is dismissed effective 05/12/1800, the first instance of presidential dismissal of a department head. Treasury Secretary Wolcott resigns effective 12/31/1800.

05/07/1800

Signs an Act dividing the territory northwest of the Ohio River (“Northwest Territory”) defining a new part to be called the Indiana Territory. [Link to pdf of the text of the law.]

05/13/1800

Signs act specifying that the next session of Congress will be in the City of Washington in the District of Columbia, starting November 17, 1800. [Link to pdf of the text of the law.]

05/21/1800

Proclamation:  Pardons the leaders of the Fries Rebellion. Against the advice of every member of his Cabinet, rescuing them from the death sentence of their treason conviction. This angers his fellow Federalists and the Pennsylvania Germans, contributing to Adams’s loss of electoral support.

09/30/1800

The Convention of 1800, also known as the Treaty of Mortefontaine, is signed under Napoleon’s rule, transmitted to Senate on 12/15/1800, receiving Senate concurrence (12/18/1800) after modifications to assure compensation for US merchant ships that had been seized.

09/30/1800

Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth resigns due to poor health.

11/01/1800

Adams becomes first president to reside in the President’s House (later usually The White House).

11/11/1800

Elections. Actual voting occurred on multiple days in different jurisdictions. Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr defeat Adams in the presidential election. Despite Jefferson’s fear that Adams was trying to establish a monarchy.

11/22/1800

Fourth Annual State of the Union Address to Congress. The first in Washington D.C. “May this territory be the residence of virtue and happiness!” There is hope for successful negotiations with France.

12/03/1800

Presidential Electors cast ballots.

1801

 

01/20/1801

Nominates John Marshall to the Supreme Court (replacing Ellsworth). He is confirmed 01/27/1801. The Marshall Court goes on to establish the principle of judicial review and consistently confirmed federal supremacy over the states.

02/11/1801

Electoral votes counted in Congress; Jefferson and Burr tie because ballots do not distinguish between votes for the offices of president and vice president. Thus, election is determined in the House of Representatives, one vote per state.

02/13/1801

Signs the Judiciary Act of 1801 passed by the outgoing Federalist Congress, reorganizing the federal judiciary.

02/17/1801

Jefferson is elected by the House on the 36th ballot after a six-day impasse. This was a major constitutional crisis for the still-young United States.

Last edited:  03/11/2021

John Adams, John Adams Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/348551

Filed Under

Categories

Simple Search of Our Archives