In 1778, fatally pierced by splinters from the mizzen yard, John Adams murmoured "I ought to do my Share of fighting" before expiring in the arms of his ten-year old son John Quincy onboard the Continental Navy frigate Boston.
Heavy Metal by Ed & David TennerAlthough the Boston had been chased by Royal Navy warships ever since she departed for France on February 15th, the decision to engage a British letter of marque had been Captain John Tucker's alone. The prize was the Martha, a privateer en route to New York with eighty thousand guineas worth of cargo that would be an immensely profitable capture for the revolutionaries. And perhaps because of that overexcitement, Adams rashly disobeyed Tucker's order for passengers to remain below deck - he had just come topside when the Martha fired its fateful shot. The Boston then turned broadside towards the Martha which promptly struck her colours. After ordering his officers not to fire, Tucker, not accustomed to being disobeyed, hurried angrily toward John Quincey and demanded to know why his father had exposed himself to danger.
Over fifty years later as President, he would describe that moment when the iron entered his soul and gave him the strength to prevent the dissolution of the Union in the midst of the bloody slave insurrections he had foreseen.