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John Adams
2nd President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
Vice President Thomas Jefferson
Preceded by George Washington
Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson
1st Vice President of the United States
In office
April 21, 1789 – March 4, 1797
President George Washington
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson
United States Minister to the Court of St. James's
In office
April 1, 1785 – March 30, 1788
Appointed by Congress of the Confederation
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Thomas Pinckney
United States Minister to the Netherlands
In office
April 19, 1782 – March 30, 1788
Appointed by Congress of the Confederation
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by William Short
Delegate to the
Second Continental Congress
from Massachusetts
In office
May 10, 1775 – June 27, 1778
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Samuel Holten
Delegate to the
First Continental Congress
from Massachusetts Bay
In office
September 5, 1774 – October 26, 1774
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born (1735-10-30)October 30, 1735
Braintree, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died July 4, 1826(1826-07-04) (aged 90)
Quincy, Massachusetts
Resting place United First Parish Church
Quincy, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Political party Federalist
Spouse Abigail Smith
Children Nabby
John Quincy
Elizabeth (Stillborn)
Alma mater Harvard University
Profession Lawyer
Signature Cursive signature in ink
  • Adams' term as Vice President is sometimes listed as starting on either March 4 or April 6. March 4 is the official start of the first vice presidential term. April 6 is the date on which Congress counted the electoral votes and certified a Vice President. April 21 is the date on which Adams began presiding over the Senate.

John Adams, Jr. (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was the second President of the United States (1797–1801) and father of the sixth President, John Quincy Adams. He was also the first Vice President of the United States (1789–1797).

Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. He was the son of Lt. Col. John Adams, Sr. (1691-1761) and Susanna Boylston (1708-1797). He went to Harvard College. He married Abigail Adams in 1764.

Revolution years

Adams wanted the Thirteen Colonies to be free from Great Britain. However, Adams was fair and thought every person should be treated fairly. Even though he did not want British soldiers in Boston, he was the lawyer who defended the British soldiers who were involved in the Boston Massacre.

Adams was a representative from Massachusetts during the Second Continental Congress. He helped Thomas Jefferson write the United States Declaration of Independence. During the American Revolutionary War, Adams helped make peace with Great Britain. He served in France, the Netherlands, and England as an ambassador in the 1780s.

Vice President

Adams was the first vice president under George Washington. After Washington chose not to run again, Adams won the 1796 election. Adams is thought to have been the first president to belong to a political party, but like George Washington, he thought himself above any particular party. He ran for president on the Federalist ticket. He beat Thomas Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican Party. Presidential candidates and vice-presidential candidates did not run together like they do today. Since Jefferson got the second-highest number of votes, he became vice president.


During his term, he resolved a conflict against France peacefully. He also passed the Alien and Sedition Acts which made it illegal to say bad things about the government. Many people did not like those acts because they felt they took away their freedom of speech. Adams was not re-elected president and lost to Thomas Jefferson. The Federalist Party was not as popular as it was when Adams was elected. One of his last acts as president was to make John Marshall the Chief Justice of the United States. This made sure that the Federalist Party would still be important.

Of the first five U.S. presidents, Adams was the only one who did not own slaves. He was also the only one to be from New England.


Adams died on July 4, 1826 of heart failure. This was the same day that Thomas Jefferson died, and was also exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.

John Adams quotes

  • "From all that I had read of History and Government, of human Life and manners, I had drawn this Conclusion, that the manners of Women were the most infallible Barometer, to ascertain the degree of morality and virtue in a nation. The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Swiss, the Dutch, all lost their public Spirit, their Republican Principles and habits, and their Republican Forms of Government, when they lost the Modesty and Domestic Virtues of their Women."
  • “If conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value.”
  • “Defeat appears to me preferable to total inaction.”
  • “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”
  • “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.”

Interesting facts about John Adams


Historical reputation

Adams strongly felt that he would be forgotten and underappreciated by history. Because of that, he sometimes envied and verbally attacked other Founders. Historian Edmund Morgan argues, "Adams was ridiculously vain, absurdly jealous, embarrassingly hungry for compliments. But no man ever served his country more selflessly."

Historian George Herring argues that Adams was the most independent-minded of the Founders. He was often described as "prickly". Stubbornness was seen as one of his defining traits. Most historians applaud him for avoiding an all-out war with France during his presidency. His signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts is almost always condemned.

In the 21st century, Adams remains less well known than many of America's other Founding Fathers, in accordance with his predictions.

In 2001, David McCullough published a biography of the president entitled John Adams. In 2008, a miniseries was released based on the McCullough biography, featuring Paul Giamatti as Adams.

In memoriam

Adams is commemorated as the namesake of various counties, buildings, and other items. One example is the John Adams Building of the Library of Congress, an institution whose existence Adams had signed into law.

While Adams is honored on the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence in Washington D.C., he does not have an individual monument dedicated to him in the city. Although a family inclusive Adams Memorial was authorized in 2001, it awaits funding.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: John Adams para niños

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