By PHILIP MARCELO, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — A Boston suburb that was the birthplace of two of the nation’s earliest presidents is planning to build a center honoring their legacies.
Officials in Quincy, Massachusetts, announced Tuesday the formation of a new nonprofit foundation to raise money and oversee the design and construction of the Adams Presidential Center honoring former President John Adams and his son, former President John Quincy Adams, as well as former first ladies Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams.
Mayor Thomas Koch said the announcement marks the beginning of a formal, public process for building the “long overdue” center, which he hopes will offer more than a traditional presidential library and museum.
“We’re in the infant stages, but we envision it as a center for civic engagement, a place to really get some education about the history of our country,” he said during remarks at the Adams Academy.
The mayor has said the center could be located on the former school property. The academy was built in the 1800s using money John Adams left to the city of Quincy, which is named after Abigail Adams’ grandfather, Col. John Quincy.
Koch has also asked the Boston Public Library to transfer John Adams’ collection of more than 3,000 books to the city to serve as a focal point of the project. On Tuesday, he said his administration is still pursuing the collection but that the planned center isn’t contingent on receiving it.
Other speakers on Tuesday reflected on the Adams family’s legacy and what it represents in the current political climate.
“We’re living in a critical moment in our history where erosion of our democratic institutions and our democracy is at risk,” said former U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt, a Quincy native. “Both presidents recognized that for a democracy to thrive, there has to be a well informed and engaged citizenry. This center can be a piece of that.”
The planned center would offer programs encouraging future generations to be active in civic life, as well as ones fostering healthier political discourse, said retired Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a Quincy native who will serve as chairman of the new foundation.
“It’s not just about preserving history but inspiring people to be engaged citizens,” he said. “The Adamses embodied the very best of the nation. They knew that democracy was not a spectator sport.”
Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin noted John Adams, the nation’s second president, was also the first to lose his bid for another term. His son, who served as the nation’s sixth president, also lost his reelection campaign.
“Neither one of them promoted an insurrection,” he said as a congressional committee in D.C. continues its probe of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack and effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. “None of them suggested that they should storm wherever the votes were being counted.
“We speak as Americans of how proud we are of the peaceful transition of power and the significance of elections,” Galvin continued. “The people who first tested it out where the Adamses. They showed us the way.”
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