19 Oct 1734 - 4 Jul 1826

  • EDUCATION: Harvard College, 1755
  • BIRTH: 19 Oct 1734, Braintree, Suffolk, MA
  • DEATH: 4 Jul 1826, Quincy, Suffolk, MA [2449]
  • BURIAL: Quincy Congregational Church, Quincy, MA
Father: John ADAMS
Mother: Susanna BOYLSTON

Family 1 : Abigail SMITH
  • MARRIAGE: 25 Oct 1764, Weymouth, Suffolk, MA
  1.  Abigail ADAMS
  2.  John Quincy ADAMS
  3.  Susannah ADAMS
  4.  Charles ADAMS
  5.  Thomas Boylston ADAMS

                                       _Joseph ADAMS ___+
                     _Joseph ADAMS ___|
                    |                 |_Abigail BAXTER _+
 _John ADAMS _______|
|                   |                  _John BASS ______+
|                   |_Hannah BASS ____|
|                                     |_Ruth ALDEN _____+
|--John ADAMS 
|                                      _________________
|                    _Peter BOYLSTON _|
|                   |                 |_________________
|_Susanna BOYLSTON _|
                    |                  _________________
                    |_Ann WHITE ______|

[2451] (Adams and associated lines from a GEDCOM posted to Rootsweb
by Scott Williams []).

The Adams Family Papers
Massachusetts Historical Society

Adams, John (1735-1826), second president (1797-1801) and first vice president (1789-97) of the United States, and leader in the movement for independence. His presidency was marked by rivalry with fellow-Federalist Alexander Hamilton, controversy over government measures taken to curb political opposition, and a crisis in U.S. relations with France.

Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Braintree (now Quincy), MA, a town in which Adamses had lived since 1638. His father had married into a wealthy Boston family, the Boylstons, and was thus able to send his son to Harvard College, from which young Adams graduated in 1755. He then selected law and soon found that in the courtroom his acquired erudition and intellectual precision overcame his natural timidity, and he became a powerful speaker and an adroit advocate. At the age of 29 Adams married Abigail Smith, a woman who was clearly his intellectual and psychological equal.

[2452] The Coming of the Revolution

The controversy that preceded the American Revolution catapulted Adamsinto a position of political leadership. His Braintree Instructions(1765) was a powerful denunciation of the Stamp Act, and his oddlytitled Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law (1765) was a prescientanalysis of the emotional and ideological demands facing the colonists.Chosen as a lawyer for several British soldiers charged with the deathof five colonists in the Boston Massacre (1770), Adams successfullydefended his clients by justifying their use of force out of fear fortheir lives. In his essays Novanglus (1774-75), he defended colonialresistance and argued that the British Empire was in reality a league ofnearly autonomous entities; thus, he anticipated 19th-centuryself-government of British overseas possessions.

In the First and Second Continental Congresses, Adams emerged as apowerful exponent of the historic rights of the English and the naturalrights of humankind. Along with his cousin Samuel Adams, he initiated(1775) the effort to secure the appointment of George Washington ascommander of the new Continental army. Adams served on the committee todraft the Declaration of Independence, but when Thomas Jefferson laterclaimed that Adams had given him a free hand in composing it, Adamsresponded indignantly that the document was "a theatrical show" in which"Jefferson ran away with the stage effect ... and all the glory of it."Thus began a rivalry that continued for more than a decade.
More clearly perhaps than any other leading patriot of his day, Adamsexpressed the fear that he and his fellow revolutionaries might fail insummoning forth the virtue and objectivity required to avoid loss ofnerve and internal factionalism. His Thoughts on Government (1776), inwhich he elaborated on these warnings, became a handbook on the writingof early state constitutions and particularly influenced the preparationof those documents in Virginia, North Carolina, and MA.

[2453] Diplomatic Service and Vice-Presidency

In 1778 Congress sent Adams and John Jay to join Benjamin Franklin asdiplomatic representatives in Europe. Franklin remained the Americanenvoy to France; Adams went to the Dutch Republic and had theresponsibility for opening negotiations with Britain; Jay traveled toSpain. In 1782 and 1783, the three men together negotiated the Treaty ofParis, ending the 8-year war with Great Britain.
In 1785 Adams was appointed diplomatic envoy to Great Britain, aposition he held until 1788. His duties in England caused him to missthe Constitutional Convention and the ratifying debates. He had played acrucial role earlier, however, in drafting the MA Constitution of 1780.While in London he wrote the three-volume Defence of the Constitutionsof Government of the United States of America. This work rebutted aFrench critic of American politics and reiterated Adams's belief thatonly formal restraints on the exercise of power and on the impulses ofthe populace could militate against human evil and societal weaknesses.

Because he ran second to Washington in electoral-college balloting inboth 1788 and 1792, Adams became the nation's first vice president. Inthat capacity, he limited himself to presiding over the Senate.

[2454] The Presidency

In 1796 Adams was chosen to succeed Washington as president, winningover Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Pinckney. The threat of war withFrance, along with the resulting passionate debate over foreign policyand the limits of dissent, dominated the politics of his administration.The war scare was sparked by American indignation over French attemptsto extort money from U.S. representatives in the so-called XYZ affair. Aconflict arose over the measures to be taken in preparation for possiblehostilities. Adams favored strengthening the navy and building coastalfortifications, but an opposing group led by former secretary of thetreasury Alexander Hamilton persuaded Congress to create a largestanding army, with Hamilton himself as inspector general. Because thepossibility of a French invasion of the U.S. was remote, the clearimplication of this policy was the creation of an army the size andstrength of which could intimidate opposition Republican voters.

[2455] Alien and Sedition Acts

The Hamilton Federalists added substance to those fears by pushingthrough Congress laws restricting the rights and privileges of aliens(presumed to be potential Republican voters or, worse yet, Frenchradicals) and punishing as sedition the printing of false attacks on thedignity or integrity of high government officials. Adams found enoughmerit in these bills to sign them, and he acquiesced in 14 prosecutionsunder the Sedition Act. The Alien Acts, however, he refused to enforce.

One of Adams's most fateful decisions was to retain the cabinet he hadinherited from Washington, several members of which were personallyloyal to Hamilton. Together with Hamilton's supporters in Congress, theyengineered the creation of the new army, which Hamilton in actualitycontrolled.

[2456] Agreement with France

Adams did, however, demonstrate the power of the presidency to confrontchallenges to executive leadership. In February 1799, he appointed newpeace commissioners to go to France and reopen negotiations. Adams'stiming and judgment were acute; the French foreign minister CharlesMaurice de Talleyrand had sent a distinct diplomatic signal that hewanted peace with the U.S. Thus, when the secretary of state TimothyPickering, a Hamilton follower, tried to sabotage the peace mission,Adams fired him; the two nations quickly came to terms.

The peace initiative enabled Adams to dismantle the new army, much toHamilton's embarrassment. Adams's foreign policy, however, split theFederalist party on the eve of the 1800 election and contributedsignificantly to the election of Thomas Jefferson as well as toRepublican victories in both houses of Congress.

[2457] Retirement

Adams lived for a quarter century after he left the presidency, duringwhich time he wrote extensively. His guiding principles were embodied ina Whig philosophy to which he clung stubbornly. Ill-suited to adapt tothe transition to 19th-century romantic culture, he was nevertheless amagnificent exponent of the pessimistic view of human society. He diedin Quincy, MA, on July 4, 1826.

[2458] (Adams and associated lines from a GEDCOM posted to Rootsweb
by Scott Williams [])..

[2447] [S187] Gary O. Shaw - Family Historian & Genealogy

[2448] [S191] Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (editor)

[2450] [S192] Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99

[2449] [S192] Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99

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