by Bill Nye

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<h2>John Adams</h2><p style=

After viewing the birthplace of the Adamses out at Quincy I felt more reconciled to my own birthplace. Comparing the house in which I was born with those in which other eminent philanthropists and high-priced statesmen originated, I find that I have no reason to complain. Neither of the Adamses were born in a larger house than I was, and for general tone and eclat of front yard and cook-room on behind, I am led to believe that I have the advantage.

John Adams was born before John Quincy Adams. A popular idea seems to prevail in some sections of the Union that inasmuch as John Q. was bald-headed, he was the eider of the two; but I inquired about that while on the ground where they were both born, and ascertained from people who were familiar with the circumstances, that John was born first.

John Adams was the second president of the United States. He was a lawyer by profession, but his attention was called to politics by the passage of the stamp act in 1765. He was one of the delegates who represented Massachusetts in the first Continental Congress, and about that time he wrote a letter in which he said: “The die is now cast; I have passed the rubicon. Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish with my country is my unalterable determination.” Some have expressed the opinion that “the rubicon” alluded to by Mr. Adams in this letter was a law which he had succeeded in getting passed; but this is not true. The idea of passing the rubicon first originated with Julius Caesar, a foreigner of some note who flourished a good deal B.C.

In June, 1776, Mr. Adams seconded a resolution, moved by Richard Henry Lee, that the United States “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent.” Whenever Mr. Adams could get a chance to whoop for liberty now and forever, one and inseparable, he invariably did so.

In 1796, Mr. Adams ran for president. In the convention it was nip and tuck between Thomas Jefferson and himself, but Jefferson was understood to be a Universalist, or an Universalist, whichever would look the best in print, and so he only got 68 votes out of a possible 139. In 1800, however, Jefferson turned the tables on him, and Mr. Adams only received 65 to Jefferson’s 73 votes.

Mr. Adams made a good president and earned his salary, though it wasn’t so much of a job as it is now. When there was no Indian war in those days the president could put on an old blue flannel shirt and such other clothes as he might feel disposed to adopt, and fish for bull heads in the Potomac till his nose peeled in the full glare of the fervid sun.

Now it is far different. By the time we get through with a president nowadays he isn’t good for much. Mr. Hayes stood the fatigue of being president better, perhaps, than any other man since the republic became so large a machine. Mr. Hayes went home to Fremont with his mind just as fresh and his brain as cool as when he pulled up his coat tails to sit down in the presidential chair. The reason why Mr. Hayes saved his mind, his brain and his salary, was plain enough when we stop to consider that he did not use them much during his administration.

John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States and the eldest son of John Adams. He was one of the most eloquent of orators, and shines in history as one of the most polished of our eminent and bald-headed Americans. When he began to speak, his round, smooth head, to look down upon it from the gallery, resembled a nice new billiard ball, but as he warmed up and became more thoroughly stirred, his intellectual dome changed to a delicate pink. Then, when he rose to the full height of his eloquent flight, and prepared to swoop down upon his adversaries and carry them into camp, it is said that his smooth intellectual rink was as red as the flush of rosy dawn on the 5th day of July.

He was educated both at home and abroad. That is the reason he was so polished. After he got so that he could readily spell and pronounce the most difficult words to be found in the large stores of Boston, he was sent to Europe, where he acquired several foreign tongues, and got so that he could converse with the people of Europe very fluently, if they were familiar with English as she is spoke.

John Quincy Adams was chosen president by the House of Representatives, there being no choice in the electoral contest, Adams receiving 84 votes, Andrew Jackson 99, William H. Crawford 41, and Henry Clay 37. Clay stood in with Mr. Adams in the House of Representatives deal, it was said, and was appointed secretary of state under Mr. Adams as a result. This may not be true, but a party told me about it who got it straight from Washington, and he also told me in confidence that he made it a rule never to prevaricate.

Mr. Adams was opposed to American slavery, and on several occasions in Congress alluded to his convictions.

He was in Congress seventeen years, and during that time he was frequently on his feet attending to little matters in which he felt an interest, and when he began to make allusions, and blush all over the top of his head, and kick the desk, and throw ink-bottles at the presiding officer, they say that John Q. made them pay attention. Seward says, “with unwavering firmness, against a bitter and unscrupulous opposition, exasperated to the highest pitch by his pertinacity–amidst a perfect tempest of vituperation and abuse–he persevered in presenting his anti-slavery petitions, one by one, to the amount sometimes of 200 in one day.” As one of his eminent biographers has truly said: “John Quincy Adams was indeed no slouch.”

The Wail Of A Wife.

“Ethel” has written a letter to me and asked for a printed reply. Leaving off the opening sentences, which I would not care to have fall into the hands of my wife, her note is about as follows:

“–– Vt., Feb. 28, 1885.

My Dear Sir:

[Tender part of letter omitted for obvious reasons.] Would it be asking too much for me to request a brief reply to one or two questions which many other married women as well as myself would like to have answered?

I have been married now for five years. To-day is the anniversary of my marriage. When I was single I was a teacher and supported myself in comfort. I had more pocket-money and dressed fully as well if not better than I do now. Why should girls who are abundantly able to earn their own livelihood struggle to become the slave of a husband and children, and tie themselves to a man when they might be free and happy?

I think too much is said by the men in a light and flippant manner about the anxiety of young ladies to secure a home and a husband, and still they do deserve a part of it, as I feel that I do now for assuming a great burden when I was comparatively independent and comfortable.

Now, will you suggest any advice that you think would benefit the yet unmarried and self-supporting girls who are liable to make the same mistake that I did, and thus warn them in a manner that would be so much more universal in its range, and reach so many more people than I could if I should raise my voice? Do this and you will be gratefully remembered by


It would indeed be a tough, tough man who could ignore thy gentle plea, Ethel; tougher far than the pale, intellectual hired man who now addresses you in this private and underhanded manner, unknown to your husband. Please destroy this letter, Ethel, as soon as you see it in print, so that it will not fall into the hands of Mr. Ethel, for if it should, I am gone. If your husband were to run across this letter in the public press I could never look him in the eye again.

You say that you had more pocket-money before you were married than you have since, Ethel, and you regret your rash step. I am sorry to hear it. You also say that you wore better clothes when you were single than you do now. You are also pained over that. It seems that marriage with you has not paid any cash dividends. So that if you married Mr. Ethel as a financial venture, it was a mistake. You do not state how it has affected your husband. Perhaps he had more pocket-money and better clothes before he married than he has since. Sometimes two people do well in business by themselves, but when they go into partnership they bust higher than a kite, if you will allow me the free, English translation of a Roman expression which you might not fully understand if I should give it to you in the original Roman.

Lots of self-supporting young ladies have married and had to go very light on pin-money after that, and still they did not squeal, as you, dear Ethel. They did not marry for revenue only. They married for protection. (This is a little political bon mot which I thought of myself. Some of my best jokes this spring are jokes that I thought of myself.)

No, Ethel, if you married expecting to be a dormant partner during the day and then to go through Mr. Ethel’s pantaloons pocket at night and declare a dividend, of course life is full of bitter, bitter regret and disappointment. Perhaps it is also for Mr. Ethel. Anyhow, I can’t help feeling a pang of sympathy for him. You do not say that he is unkind or that he so far forgets himself as to wake you up in the morning with a harsh tone of voice and a yearling club. You do not say that he asks you for pocket-money, or, if so, whether you give it to him or not.

Of course I want to do what is right in the solemn warning business, so I will give notice to all simple young women who are now self-supporting and happy, that there is no statute requiring them to assume the burdens of wifehood and motherhood unless they prefer to do so. If they now have abundance of pin-money and new clothes, they may remain single if they wish without violating the laws of the land. This rule is also good when applied to young and self-supporting young men who wear good clothes and have funds in their pockets. No young man who is free, happy and independent, need invest his money in a family or carry a colicky child twenty-seven miles and two laps in one night unless he prefers it. But those who go into it with the right spirit, Ethel, do not regret it.

I would just as soon tell you, Ethel, if you will promise that it shall go no farther, that I do not wear as good clothes as I did before I was married. I don’t have to. My good clothes have accomplished what I got them for. I played them for all they were worth, and since I got married the idea of wearing clothes as a vocation has not occurred to me.

Please give my kind regards to Mr. Ethel, and tell him that although I do not know him personally, I cannot help feeling sorry for him.


Preface  •  Directions  •  My School Days  •  Recollections of Noah Webster  •  To Her Majesty  •  Habits of a Literary Man  •  A Father’s Letter  •  Archimedes  •  Anatomy  •  Mr. Sweeney’s Cat  •  The Heyday of Life  •  They Fell  •  Second Letter to the President  •  Milling in Pompeii  •  Broncho Sam  •  How Evolution Evolves  •  Hours With Great Men  •  Concerning Coroners  •  Down East Rum  •  Railway Etiquette  •  B. Franklin, Deceased  •  Life Insurance as a Health Restorer  •  The Opium Habit  •  More Paternal Correspondence  •  Twombley’s Tale  •  On Cyclones  •  The Arabian Language  •  Verona  •  A Great Upheaval  •  The Weeping Woman  •  The Crops  •  Literary Freaks  •  A Father’s Advice to His Son  •  Eccentricity in Lunch  •  Insomnia in Domestic Animals  •  Along Lake Superior  •  I Tried Milling  •  Our Forefathers  •  Preventing a Scandal  •  About Portraits  •  The Old South  •  Knights of the Pen  •  The Wild Cow  •  Spinal Meningitis  •  Skimming the Milky Way  •  A Thrilling Experience  •  Catching a Buffalo  •  John Adams  •  Bunker Hill  •  A Lumber Camp  •  My Lecture Abroad  •  The Miner at Home  •  An Operatic Entertainment  •  Dogs and Dog Days  •  Christopher Columbus  •  Accepting the Laramie Postoffice  •  A Journalistic Tenderfoot  •  The Amateur Carpenter  •  The Average Hen  •  Woodtick William’s Story  •  In Washington  •  My Experience as an Agriculturist  •  A New Autograph Album  •  A Resign  •  My Mine  •  Mush and Melody  •  The Blase Young Man  •  History of Babylon  •  Lovely Horrors  •  The Bite of a Mad Dog  •  Arnold Winkelreid  •  Murray and the Mormons  •  About Geology  •  A Wallula Night  •  Flying Machines  •  Asking for a Pass  •  Words About Washington  •  The Board of Trade  •  Stirring Incidents at a Fire  •  The Little Barefoot Boy  •  Favored a Higher Fine  •  Man Overbored  •  Picnic Incidents  •  Nero  •  Squaw Jim  •  Squaw Jim’s Religion  •  One Kind of Fool  •  John Adams’ Diary  •  The Approaching Humorist  •  What We Eat  •  Care of House Plants  •  A Peaceable Man

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