Birth
October 30, 1735, in Braintree, Massachusetts.

Death
July 4, 1826, in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Education
Harvard College (graduated in 1755).

Family
Married to Abigail Smith Adams in 1764.
Children:

  • Abigail (Nabby) Amelia Adams Smith (1765-1813)
  • John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) (Sixth President of the United States, 1825-1829)
  • Susanna Adams (1768-1770)
  • Charles Adams (1770-1800)
  • Thomas Boylston Adams (1772-1832)

Legal Career

  • Admitted to Massachusetts Bar (1758)
  • Appointed to defend British captain and soldiers indicted for murder following the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770
  • Founder and First Secretary, Suffolk County Bar Association (1770)
  • Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature, the predecessor to the Supreme Judicial Court (1775-1778), but obligations in Philadelphia prevented his ever presiding over the Court.

Political Career

  • Elected to Massachusetts Assembly (1770)
  • Selected as delegate to First and Second Continental Congresses (1774-1776)
  • Proposed George Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental armies (1775)
  • Member of Committee assigned to draft the Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • Signed Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • Commissioner to France (1777-1779)
  • Delegate to Massachusetts Constitutional Convention and principal author of the Massachusetts Constitution (1779)
  • Minister plenipotentiary to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain (1780)
  • Diplomat to Holland and France (1781-1784)
  • United States Ambassador to Great Britain (1785-1788)
  • Elected first Vice President of the United States (1789-1797)
  • Elected second President of the United States (1797-1801). Presidential Acts included nomination of John Marshall to be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1801)
  • Delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820

Political Philosopher and Author
Adams was a prolific author. In addition to his famous diaries and letters, major works include:

  • A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law (1765)
  • Novanglus Letters (1774-1775)
  • Thoughts on Government (1776)
  • A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States (1786-1787)
  • Discourses on Davila (1791)

Other

  • Charter member and founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1780)