Though no specific memorial plans exist, there have been baby steps to honor Adams. In 2001, the House of Representatives authorized a “commemorative work” in Washington to pay tribute to the president and his family. Alas, a 2003 change to the Commemorative Works Act bars further construction along the Mall or Tidal Basin, the most ideal and prominent locations. Bill Line, a National Park Service spokesman, has said the Mall is “a completed work of civic art.” For Adams to secure a location there, the law, which bans additions to the Mall, might need to be amended.
Ben Adams, a descendant of the president and head of the Adams Memorial Foundation, is committed to getting approval from the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission to honor his family patriarch. He may even pursue a Mall location, despite the ban. “Anything’s on the table, until we have a site,” he said in an interview.
But of the 20 or so locations that Adams and his fellow trustees have contemplated, none would be in plain sight of the White House. That’s too bad. When calling the shots, the next 44 presidents should remember Adams just as much as Washington and Jefferson. After all, a stoic general and a reserved political theorist didn’t create America alone. They needed a little man from Boston to speak up.