John Adams….Chapter Five

The evil Comte de Vergennes, French diplomat and backstabber extraordinaire

Nothing’s going well for John Adams in this week’s installment of David McCullough’s John Adams, which I am reading along with the gang over at Unputdownables.

 I believe this chapter should be renamed Chapter Five: John Adams vs the World. Adams falls on some pretty hard times in this chapter. England hates him (he’s a traitor, remember?); France’s Comte de Vergennes and former pal Ben Franklin are out to ruin his career and/or reputation (whichever comes first), the Dutch are going out of their way to snub him, and poor Abigail is about fed up because she’s received maybe two letters in the past year. John Quincy takes off to Russia and leaves him alone with Charles. Even John Adams sounds like he’s a little sick of John Adams. Plus he gets malaria and almost dies. It’s a pretty bleak outlook overall.

Happily, and miraculously, it only takes Cornwallis surrendering his troops to Washington at Yorktown to transform Adams from Zero to Hero. Suddenly everyone wants a piece of him. The Dutch are putting his picture on everything they can get their hands on; he is the “Washington of Negotiation”. Where pockets (and doors) were firmly closed against him in Amsterdam before, now he’s the toast of the town and they can’t give him enough money for the fledgling US of A. Even Comte Vergennes breaks down and invites him to dinner with the Madame la Comte (what a party it must be being married to THAT guy!) Finally, the peace treaty is signed by one and all at Paris, and Adams and all his friends can breathe a sigh of relief that they’re no longer in line for the noose. That won’t last long, though. Now everyone is waiting with bated breath (and some disbelief) to see if the new country will make it. The odds are definitely against them. One thing is for sure, though…Adams promises Abigail he’s done doing the long-distance relationship thing. I’m glad. They are so cute together!

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2 thoughts on “John Adams….Chapter Five

  1. Poor Abigail. I’m glad John Adams has finally learned his lesson. Asking your wife to wait two years to see you, while you often forget to even write, is a very big deal.

    Comte de Vergennes is horrid. I was so glad that he ended up having to kiss tushie a little! And Ben Franklin… I’m a little disappointed. I suppose I should have gathered his lifestyle would be so “relaxed” knowing what we know about him, but he came across as a little lazy and a lot like the kid who lets the other kid do the entire assignment, while he gladly accepts the A at the end.

    On to the next chapter!

    • I agree. One of the things I love about this book is getting the inside story on all of these famous people that history has depicted as almost superhuman. The upcoming stories about Thomas Jefferson are just as eye-opening.

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