Poor John Adams gets no respect

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Oh, sure, our second president was praised 175 years after his death by historian David McCullough in his adoring 2001 biography. And his reputation no doubt will rise again as the HBO miniseries "John Adams" unfolds, beginning Sunday (Reviewed on Page D7).

However, when it comes to more lasting tributes, our second president has been sorely overlooked both inside the Beltway and beyond. Monuments on the Mall and Tidal Basin commemorate George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but not a single one in the District honors Adams, who pushed for independence in leading the Second Continental Congress and served as the nation's first vice president.

Why the neglect?

"He was difficult and cantankerous and not as charismatic as the Virginians," says Benjamin Adams, a New York investment banker and the fourth great-grandson of the Founding Father. "He was a one-term president, and many of his greatest contributions to the country came before his presidency."

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