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Brock Adams
Brockman Adams.jpg
United States Senator
from Washington
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Slade Gorton
Succeeded by Patty Murray
5th United States Secretary of Transportation
In office
January 23, 1977 – July 20, 1979
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by William Thaddeus Coleman Jr.
Succeeded by Neil Goldschmidt
Chair of the House Budget Committee
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by Al Ullman
Succeeded by Robert Giaimo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 22, 1977
Preceded by K. William Stinson
Succeeded by Jack Cunningham
United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington
In office
President John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Charles Moriarty
Succeeded by William Goodwin
Personal details
Brockman Adams

(1927-01-13)January 13, 1927
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Died September 10, 2004(2004-09-10) (aged 77)
Stevensville, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Adams
Education University of Washington, Seattle (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Navy
Years of service 1944–1946

Brockman Adams (January 13, 1927 – September 10, 2004) was an American lawyer and politician. A Democrat from Washington, Adams served as a U.S. Representative, Senator, and United States Secretary of Transportation. He was forced to retire in January 1993.

Early life and education

Adams was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended public schools in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, graduating in 1944 from Broadway High School in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington at Seattle where, in 1948, he was elected president of the student government (ASUW) and was the first student to both serve in that post and receive the President's Medal of Excellence as the University's top scholar. In 1949, Mary Maxwell served as secretary to ASUW president Adams. Later that year, Adams introduced Maxwell to his friend and her future husband, William Henry Gates II. He graduated in 1949 and was admitted to Harvard Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1952.

Adams was also a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Naval and legal career

Adams served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, and was admitted to the Washington state bar in 1952, opening a private practice in Seattle. He was a member of the American Bar Association.

Adams taught law at the American Institute of Banking from 1954 to 1960, and served as United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington from 1961 to 1964.

Political career

U.S. House of Representatives

Adams was elected as a Democrat to the House and served six terms beginning January 3, 1965. He was chairman of the newly created Budget Committee during the 94th Congress, and was considered a strong candidate for Speaker of the House.

Secretary of Transportation

On January 22, 1977, Adams resigned to become the fifth Secretary of Transportation following his appointment by President Jimmy Carter and confirmation by the Senate.

Adams's willingness to plunge into controversial issues during his time as Transportation Secretary was evident in the contrasting assessments of his tenure and accomplishments during a tumultuous period in transportation. The Wall Street Journal in 1979 called him the "biggest disappointment" in the Carter cabinet, while Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook, who led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under Adams, called him "absolutely one of the best transportation secretaries we've ever had".

After resigning his Cabinet post on July 20, 1979, Adams resumed law practice, this time in Washington, D.C., where he was a lobbyist for CSX Corporation and other railroad carriers.

Cabinet meeting - NARA - 175496
Adams at Cabinet Meeting

U.S. Senator

On November 4, 1986, Adams was elected to the U.S. Senate, narrowly defeating incumbent Republican Slade Gorton with 50.66% of the vote. Serving one term, he compiled a liberal record and was strongly supportive of his party's leadership.


In retirement, Adams lived in Stevensville, Maryland. He died of complications from Parkinson's disease.

See also

  • Lobbying in the United States
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