the colony of Massachusetts
Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of CongressBorn: October 30,
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
began his education in a common school in Braintree. He secured a
scholarship to Harvard and graduated at the age of 20.
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.
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 health.
died on July 4, 1826 (incidentally, within hours of the death of Thos.
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."