Representing the colony of Massachusetts
by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of CongressBorn: October
Birthplace: Braintree, Mass.
Education: Graduate of Harvard. (Lawyer)
Work: Admitted to Massachusetts Bar, 1761; Elected to Massachusetts
Assembly, 1770; Attended First Continental Congress, 1774-'76;
Signed Declaration of Independence, 1776; Appointed Diplomat to
France, 1776-'79; Member of assembly to form State Constitution
of Massachusetts, Minister plenipotentiary in Europe, 1780, '81;
Party to the Treaty of Peace with Gr. Britain, 1783; U.S. Minister
to the British court, c. 1783- '88; Elected first Vice President,
1789; President, 1796.
Died: July 4, 1826
Adams began his education in a common school in Braintree. He
secured a scholarship to Harvard and graduated at the age of 20.
He apprenticed to a Mr. Putnam of Worcester, who provided access
to the library of the Attorney General of Massachusetts, and was
admitted to the Bar in 1761. He participated in an outcry against
Writs of Assistance. Adams became a prominent public figure in
his activities against the Stamp Act, in response to which he wrote
and published a popular article, Essay on the Canon and Feudal
Law. He was married on Oct. 25, 1764 and moved to Boston, assuming
a prominent position in the patriot movement. He was elected to
the Massachusetts Assembly in 1770, and was chosen one of five
to represent the colony at the First Continental Congress in 1774.
Again in the Continental Congress, in 1775, he nominated Washington
to be commander-in-chief on the colonial armies. Adams was a very
active member of congress, he was engaged by as many as ninety
committees and chaired twenty-five during the second Continental
Congress. In May of 1776, he offered a resolution that amounted
to a declaration of independence from Gr. Britain. He was shortly
thereafter a fierce advocate for the Declaration drafted by Thos.
Jefferson. Congress then appointed him ambassador to France, to
replace Silas Dean at the French court. He returned from those
duties in 1779 and participated in the framing of a state constitution
for Massachusetts, where he was further appointed Minister plenipotentiary
to negotiate a peace, and form a commercial treaty, with Gr. Britain.
In 1781 he participated with Franklin, Jay and Laurens, in development
of the Treaty of Peace with Gr. Britain and was a signer of that
treaty, which ended the Revolutionary War, in 1783. He was elected
Vice President of the United States under Geo. Washington in 1789,
and was elected President in 1796. Adams was a Federalist and this
made him an arch-rival of Thos. Jefferson and his Republican party.
The discord between Adams and Jefferson surfaced many times during
Adams' (and, later, Jefferson's) presidency. This was not a mere
party contest. The struggle was over the nature of the office and
on the limits of Federal power over the state governments and individual
citizens. Adams retired from office at the end of his term in 1801.
He was elected President of a convention to reform the constitution
of Massachusetts in 1824, but declined the honor due to failing
died on July 4, 1826 (incidentally, within hours of the death
Jefferson.) His final toast to the Fourth of July was "Independence
Forever!" Late in the afternoon of the Fourth of July, just
hours after Jefferson died at Monticello, Adams, unaware of that
fact, is reported to have said, "Thomas Jefferson survives."