John Adams was a Zionist
John Adams was not just one of America’s founders (and for me one of the most important), he had one of the most brilliant legal minds of his day; this was the reason he was appointed to handle the negotiations between America and England that led to England acknowledging America as a separate nation.
There is a great deal known about John Adams’s role in the founding of this nation, but not so much about his being a supporter of Judaism and a Zionist.
What is not as widely known as it should be about Adams is that he was a devout Christian who highly respected Judaism and Jewish history. He was a strong defender against anti-Jewish attacks in and out of America, and one of the first Zionists in modern history.
Adams corresponded with a great number of people in his day, including a well-known Dutch radical turned American, Francis Adrian Van der Kemp. In 1808, Van der Kemp wrote to Adams to enquire about his health and wrote of the genius of Machiavelli.
On December 31, 1808, Adams responded:
‘What a wonderful Genius was Machiavel’? you exclaim. Wonderful indeed. What a wonderful Genius was Hobbs? Priestley? Bonaparte? Voltaire? all very Strange Genius’s however. I have read this last fall half a dozen Volumes of this last wonderful Genius’s Ribaldry against the Bible. How is it possible this old Fellow Should represent the Hebrews in Such a contemptible Light? They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a Bauble in comparison of the Jews.
Another of his regular correspondents was one of the most influential Jews of his day, Mordecai Manuel Noah. They were close enough for Noah to send Adams a copy of his speech consecrating Shearith Israel in 1818, Discourse.
The following year, Noah sent Adams a copy of a recently published work about his travels, Travels in England, France, Spain and the Barbary States. By 1818, John Adams had poor vision, but excellent hearing; he would have an aide read to him.
On March 15, 1819, Adams responded:
I have been so pleased with it that I wish you had continued your travels into Syria Judea & Jerusalem… I could find it in my heart to wish that you had been at the head of a hundred thousand Israelites indeed as well disciplin’d as a French army—& marching with them into Judea & making a conquest of that country & restoring your nation to the dominion of it—For I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.
He may no longer have been president, but he was a former head of state. The first to call for rebirth of Israel in Judea. He predated Theodor Herzl by almost a century. Adams should be known not just as a supporter and defender of Judaism, but one of the first Zionists in the modern era.
Bob Ryan is a writer who has an MBA. He is an American Christian Zionist who staunchly supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. He has been a weekly blogger at the Times of Israel since 2019.
Image: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.