John Adams was one of the founding fathers, most people know that. But what most people don't know was what he did and why he occupies this high place in history.
I chalk it up to his poor political instincts and/or sado masochism. All his life, he seemed to relish taking on unpopular causes. He always wanted to play the role of the unpopular leader, making the tough decisions that populists could not/would not.
He only served one term, leaving the oval office in the middle of the night - not staying around for the inauguration of his former (redeemed later in life) friend Thomas Jefferson.
He had a huge impact on the early country- making the intellectual case for a break with the British empire, working with Madison on constructing an entire way of government, helped Washington with wartime strategy from his extensive readings on military histories, was the first Vice President and second President.
But his personality alienated his own friends, he had huge outbursts of anger and had high level feuds with his own party, so as much as he wanted to be remembered by history- it seemed like he was determined to not be loved by his people.
Maybe he's the founding father we all thought was uncool when we were teenagers.