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John Adams was a Founding Father, the first vice president of the United States and the second president. His son, John Quincy Adams, was the sixth president.
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John Adams came from a family with strong willed parents.
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John Adams was born on October 30, 1735 in Quincy, Massachusetts. He was a direct descendant of Puritan colonists from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He studied law at Harvard University, and in 1758 was admitted to the bar. In 1774, he served on the First Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. Adams became the first vice president of the United States and the second president.
"People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity."
"The balance of power in a society accompanies the balance of property in land."
"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."
"I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth."
John Adams was born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts. His father, John Adams Sr., was a farmer, a Congregationalist deacon and a town councilman, and was a direct descendant of Henry Adams, a Puritan who emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638. His mother, Susanna Boylston Adams, was a descendant of the Boylstons of Brookline, a prominent family in colonial Massachusetts.
At age 16, Adams earned a scholarship to attend Harvard University, where he developed an interest in law, despite his father's wish for him to enter the ministry. After graduating in 1755, at age 20, Adams studied law in the office of John Putnam, a prominent lawyer. In 1758, he earned a master's degree from Harvard and was admitted to the bar.
Adams quickly became identified with the patriot cause, initially as the result of his opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. He wrote a response to the imposition of the act by British Parliament titled "Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law," which was published as a series of four articles in the Boston Gazette. In it, Adams argued that the Stamp Act deprived American colonists of the basic rights to be taxed by consent and to be tried by a jury of peers. Two months later Adams also publicly denounced the act as invalid in a speech delivered to the Massachusetts governor and his council.
In 1770 Adams agreed to represent the British soldiers on trial for killing five civilians in what became known as the Boston Massacre. He justified defending the soldiers on the grounds that the facts of a case were more important to him than the passionate inclinations of the people. He believed that every person deserved a defense, and he took the case without hesitation. During the trial Adams presented evidence that suggested blame also lay with the mob that had gathered, and that the first soldier who fired upon the crowd was simply responding the way anyone would when faced with a similar life-threatening situation. The jury acquitted six of the eight soldiers, while two were convicted of manslaughter. Reaction to Adams's defense of the soldiers was hostile, and his law practice suffered greatly. However, his actions later enhanced his reputation as a courageous, generous and fair man.
That same year, Adams was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly and was one of five to represent the colony at the First Continental Congress, in 1774. When Congress created the Continental Army in 1775, Adams nominated George Washington of Virginia as its commander-in-chief.
In May 1776, Congress approved Adams's resolution proposing that the colonies each adopt independent governments.
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During their courtship and marriage, John Adams and Abigail Smith Adams exchanged over 1,100 letters, many filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics considered an invaluable account of the Revolutionary War. Abigail, a fierce advocate of rights for women and African-Americans, was an important partner throughout John's political career. The couple lived on a farm in Quincy, Massachusetts, where they raised five children. Abigail died in 1818; John died in 1826, 16 months after their son, John Quincy Adams, was sworn in as the sixth President of the United States.
Abigail and John Adams 2 people in this group
They are American icons—they're on our dollars and coins, they are the subject of our monuments, and we live our daily lives in the world their ideas helped create. America's "Founding Fathers" include George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and of course, Benjamin Franklin. These men, together with several other key players of their time, structured the American democracy and left a legacy that has shaped the world. But beyond their legends, these men were human beings who led complex and fascinating lives. Learning their stories helps us better understand what made them tick, as well as their influence on our world today.
Founding Fathers 18 people in this group
The first U.S. president, former military leader George Washington, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall. From that moment onward, the United States' highest office has been filled regularly by elected officials who aim to serve the people under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution. Learn more about the 43 men who have served as America's chief executive.
U.S. Presidents 43 people in this group