John Adams Biography

John Adams Biography

John Adams was appointed as the second president of the United States of America in 1797. He served the presidency until 1801. He was the only President elected under the banner of the Federalist party.

Adams also served as the first Vice President of the USA from 1789 to 1797. He lobbied for America's independence from Britain. He is now known as one of the seven founding fathers of the country.

Who Was John Adams?

John Adams succeeded George Washington as the second President of the USA in 1797. Adams, however, lost the election for his second term to Thomas Jefferson in 1801.

Considered one of the smartest US Presidents to date, Adams was primarily a law practitioner. In the political scene, he emerged as a vocal critic of the controversial Stamp Act formulated by Great Britain's parliament in 1765. He wrote an article titled Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law, which publicly condemned the British Parliament for imposing a direct tax on goods on British colonies in America.

In 1774, Adams served as a member of the First Continental Congress. He wrote the first draft of the historical Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Between 1789 to 1793, Adams worked as a diplomat across Europe before nominating himself for the presidency as the Vice President and the presiding officer of the Senate. But, he would later lose against Washington on two presedential campaigns.

Early Bio & Family 

John Adams was born to John Adams Sr. and Susanna Boylston on October 30, 1735. He was the eldest son of his parents and had three younger siblings: brothers Elihu and Peter Adams, and a sister, Jerusha. The family resided in Braintree, Massachusetts.

Adams' father, John Adams Sr. was a deacon in a Congregational Church, a farmer, and a councilman. He was a descendant of Henry Adams, a Puritan who shifted to Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1638. 

His mother, Susanna Bolyston, belonged to a renowned Boylston family in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Education & Early Career Journey

In 1755 at the age of 20, John Adams graduated from Harvard University. He had received a scholarship to enroll in the university four years earlier. After his graduation, he started studying law under a popular lawyer named James Putnam. The decision was against his father's wish; Henry wanted his son to enter the ministry.

In 1758, he completed his master's study at Harvard and started practicing law after being accepted to the bar.

Personal Life & Marriage

John Adams got married to Abigail Smith on October 25, 1764; Smith was his third cousin. Together, the couple had six children: three daughters—Abigail (1765), Susanna (1768), and Elizabeth (1777), and three sons—John Quincy (1767), Charles (1770), and Thomas Boylston (1772).

Adams' first son and second child, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth president of the United States of America in 1825.

Law Practice

In 1770, Adams took one of the most highlighted and controversial cases of his law career. He defended eight English soldiers accused of killing five civilians in an incident known as the "Boston Massacre."  

During the trial, he argued that the soldiers had the right to act out of self-defense as a charging mob threatened their lives. He also presented the supporting evidence to the jury.

The court acquitted six of the soldiers, while two were found guilty of manslaughter. The case brought wide criticisms to Adams and affected his law practice.

Political Career Initiation

John Adams commenced his political career after getting elected as a member of the Massachusetts Assembly in 1770.

In 1774, he served as one of the five delegates to represent the colony at the First Continental Congress event. In 1775, he also nominated George Washington as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army after its creation by Congress.

On May 15, 1776, Congress sanctioned Adams' proposal to form an independent government for each of the colonies. He had written the preamble of this proposal. The resolution from his side gave a formal passage to pass the Declaration of Independence. He then wrote the first draft of the historic document.

Diplomacy Career Across Europe

After the historic signing of the 'Declaration of Independence' in 1776, the US's trade relations with Britain suffered heavily. To smoothen the trades with Europe, Congress sent Adams on a diplomatic mission across Europe.

In 1778, he accompanied Arthur Lee and Benjamin Franklin in negotiating a treaty with France. In 1779, Adams returned to Massachusetts but was soon sent back to France as a delegate authorized to negotiate a peace agreement with Britain.

During negotiations with Britain, he refused to negotiate until Britain recognized the USA as an independent country. A treaty was eventually signed on September 3, 1783. Dubbed as the "Treaty of Paris," the agreement between delegates from England and the USA officially established the US as a free country. The treaty helped all the associated parties to end the Revolutionary War.

During his stay in Europe from 1784 to 1785, he secured several commerce treaties with Europeans. At the time, he also traveled to the Netherlands and secured a loan amounting to $2 million.

In 1788, Adam returned home and started pursuing domestic politics again.

Political Career & Presidency

John Adams had lost both the Presidential Elections of 1789 and 1793 to George Washington. Adams finally won his first Presidential Election in 1797 as a Federalist nominee against the Democratic-Republican candidate, Thomas Jefferson. 

At the time of Adams' presidency, a war was ongoing between France and Britain. The war had caused France to halt its commercial relationship with the USA. To solve the trade barriers, Adams sent three representatives to negotiate terms, but French officials refused to comply unless the US delegates paid a huge bribe. 

France's approach generated a conflicting situation between the two nations. Many Americans favored the war with France, but Adams remained true to America's neutrality and refrained from calling for a war declaration.

As Adams progressed with his presidency, his popularity among the general population gradually decreased. As a result, he lost his second presidential election against Thomas Jefferson in 1801.


Post the end of his presidency in 1801, Adams moved back to live with his family home in Quincy. There, he spent the rest of his life alongside his beloved wife, Abigail Smith.

Adams eventually passed away at the age of 90 on July 4, 1826. Coincidentally, his successor Thomas Jefferson—the third US President—also died on the same day, which was also the 50th anniversary of America's Independence from Britain.

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