John Adams was a leader of the American Revolution, who became the second President of the United States of America.
Historian C. James Taylor said, “Adams’s legacy is one of reason, moral leadership, the rule of law, compassion, and a cautious but active foreign policy that aimed both at securing the national interest and achieving an honorable peace.”
Let us dive into the timelines and events to know more of John Adams facts.
John Adams Facts: Quick Bio | 1 – 5
001. John Adams, nicknamed ‘Father of American Independence’ was born on October 30, 1735, in Braintree, Massachusetts.
002. He graduated from Harvard College in 1755, started his career as a teacher, switched to legal profession followed by politics.
003. Adams got married to Abigail Smith Adams in 1764 (d.1818). Adams was the only president from Federalist party (1789 and 1824).
004. His children were Abigail Amelia Adams Smith (1765-1813), John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), Susanna Adams (1768-1770), Charles Adams (1770-1800) and Thomas Boylston Adams (1772-1832).
005. John Adams saw his son John Quincy Adams becoming the president in 1824. He died on July 4, 1826, in Quincy, Massachusetts.
John Adams Facts: Legal Career | 6 – 10
006. John Adams studied law with an attorney in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1758, he was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.
007. In 1770, Adams defended the British captain and soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, leading to their acquittal.
008. In the same year, he also founded the Suffolk County Bar Association and became its First Secretary.
009. Between 1775-78, he was appointed the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature.
010. Since Adams began to give undivided attention to politics during the same period, he never presided over the court.
John Adams Facts: Political Career | 11 – 15
011. Being patriotic, his career shifted into politics as early as 1770 when he was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly.
012. Between 1774-76, he was selected as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress.
013. In 1776, he became a member of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and signed it the same year.
014. Between 1777-79, he was delegated Commissioner to France.
015. In 1779, he was delegated to Massachusetts Constitutional Convention and drafted the Massachusetts Constitution.
John Adams Facts: Political Career | 16 – 20
016. In 1780, he was delegated to Britain as Minister Plenipotentiary to negotiate peace and commerce as well.
017. Between 1781-84, he was appointed Diplomat to Netherlands and France, and thereafter another three years as Ambassador to Britain until 1788.
018. Between 1789-97, he served as the first Vice-President of the United States.
019. At age 61, Adams was inaugurated President on March 4, 1797. He served as the second President of the US between 1797-1801.
020. After his defeat in the 1800 presidential elections, he retired from active politics.
John Adams Facts: Rule of Law | 21 – 25
021. When Attorney James Otis argued the Writs of Assistance case, it influenced Adams when drafting the Massachusetts Constitution to prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures.
022. Adams was greatly impressed by his powerful arguments, which he believed as the first action of opposition and birth of child Independence.
023. Joining the Sons of Liberty, he was against the British Government for unfair taxation.
024. But when he believed that the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre fired in self-defense, he had them acquitted.
025. The commitments to rule of law and fair proceedings enabled John Adams to envision a philosophy of government based on laws.
John Adams Facts: Thoughts on Government | 26 – 30
026. The North Carolina Provincial Congress requested Adams’ views on new government formation and drafting of constitution.
027. In 1776, Adams released ‘Thoughts on Government, Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies’ in response to the request.
028. It served as a guide to draft new state constitutions and suggested the kind of representative assembly apt for good governance.
029. John Adams evolved a political theory based on his vast knowledge of ancient and modern theories and histories.
030. Additionally, he believed that the age he lived gave the chance to form free and independent states with their own governments.
John Adams Facts: Massachusetts Constitution | 31 – 35
031. John Adams drafted the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1780, the still functioning oldest of the kind.
032. The structure of this constitution with its itemized individual liberties became the prototype for the United States Constitution, effective from 1791.
033. More than a century later, countries like Germany, Japan, India and South Africa drafted their constitutions on a similar structure.
034. In 1779, John Adams returned from Paris to Braintree in August and was selected to draft the constitution in September.
035. He completed the draft by October and returned to Europe by November 1779, an absolute breeze for his brilliance.
John Adams Facts: Kingmaker | 36 – 40
036. John Adams completely shifted his concentration into politics when the independence movement in America gained momentum.
037. Joining Continental Congress quite early to resist the British, he quickly gained attention and was nicknamed ‘Atlas of Independence.’
038. To ensure Virginian support, he proposed George Washington to command the Continental Army in 1775.
039. For the same cause, Adams also nominated Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence.
040. He supported Jefferson’s draft, seconded the motion for independence and eventually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
John Adams Facts: Declaration of Independence | 41 – 45
041. In 1776, Continental Congress appointed John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Roger Sherman to draft the Declaration of Independence.
042. Both Adams and Jefferson wanted the other to author the document. Eventually, Adams succeeded in persuading Jefferson to write it.
043. John Adams and the others reviewed the Declaration of Independence document written by Thomas Jefferson.
044. John Adams was one among the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence that annulled the British supremacy over America.
045. Out of the signatories, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were to become the future presidents.
John Adams Facts: The Treaty of Paris | 46 – 50
046. The Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783 as the official peace treaty between the US and Britain.
047. It would symbolize the end of the American Revolutionary War; since it was agreed in Paris, it was called the Treaty of Paris.
048. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay represented the US while David Hartley represented the British, King George III.
049. According to the treaty, Britain gave up claim over its thirteen colonies and also authorized the US expand westward.
050. It had articles like fishing rights, property restoration, war prisoners etc. but only one that declares the US as a free, sovereign and independent states exists now.
John Adams Facts : Reign of Peace | 51 – 55
051. John Adams was keen on maintaining peace during this presidentship as war clouds gathered over France and Britain.
052. So, he did not take sides either with France or Britain, though both of them expected US to help during the crisis.
053. Although there was a mixed opinion among the public, John Adams supported neither and thus kept the US out of war.
054. He won the respect of his adversaries with his argument that war was the last resort to diplomacy.
055. John Adams gave his final official dinner to a delegate of native Americans on February 16, 1801.
John Adams Facts : Law & Response | 56 – 60
056. The notorious Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 signed by John Adams consisted of four laws amidst war clouds from France.
057. It stipulated a minimum fourteen years residency, as against the previous five years, for American citizenship.
058. It authorized the President to imprison or deport miscreants, in order to safeguard the peace of the country.
059. It limited freedom of speech against the Government, to curb the activities of the Democratic-Republican Party.
060. Ironically, John Adams never imposed it on anyone; still it played a significant part in his defeat in the 1800 elections.
John Adams Facts: Thomas Jefferson | 61 – 65
061. When John Adams became the second President of the US, Thomas Jefferson, his fellow freedom fighter, served as the Vice-President.
062. Policy differences between the two aggravated to personal attacks during the 1800 presidential campaign, making it the worst in American history.
063. Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams to become the president; and John Adams did not attend Jefferson’s presidential inauguration.
064. Their friendship restored later and both died exactly on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1826.
065. Both had been sick, Jefferson even longer; so unaware of Jefferson’s death, John Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”
John Adams Facts: The Love Story | 66 – 70
066. Torn apart for days together, John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams were often separate due to political and household duties respectively.
067. Though patriotism and career kept them away, their 1,100 written messages express their ardent love for each other.
068. In between the lines, Abigail Adams encouraged him to fight for freedom even at the cost of his life.
069. She asked to remember the ladies favorably while coding the new laws and advocated for an African-American child’s admission in school.
070. Abigail Adams was a friend, philosopher and guide throughout their fifty-four years of marriage in the family and political sphere.
John Adams Facts: John Quincy Adams | 71 – 75
071. A year before John Adams died, his son John Quincy Adams became the sixth President of the US in 1825.
072. Adam’s birthplace Braintree, Massachusetts was renamed after his son’s name as Quincy.
073. There had been just one other father-son pair of Presidents in US history, which was George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
074. John Adams and John Quincy Adams practiced strict moral values but were rejected after a single term in office.
075. Since news reached late and refrigeration not available in those days, John Adams was buried before his son reached from Washington.
John Adams Facts: Characteristics and Values | 76 – 80
076. John Adams was a descendant of Puritans, who migrated to Massachusetts; but he was always proud to be an American.
077. When his political critic Andrew Brown’s house and shop were on fire, John Adams, then Vice-President, helped to douse it.
078. Adams described his Vice-Presidency role as, “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”
079. The bribery scandal called XYZ affairs popularized John Adams, when he refused to pay bribe demanded by French foreign minister in 1797.
080. John Adams considered the founding of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as one of his proudest achievements.
John Adams Facts: Pioneer | 81 – 85
081. Among the first five American presidents, John Adams was the only non-slaveholder, yet did not support abolition movements either.
082. While the first five American presidents were from Virginia, John Adams was the only New Englander.
083. The United States Military Academy, the brainchild of John Adams was proposed as early as 1776, though established much later.
084. The United States Marine Band was formed under John Adams’ direction in 1798 that still thrives as the country’s musical organization.
085. In 1800, John Adams was the first President to move into the White House. He was also the first lawyer-president.
John Adams Facts: Trivia | 86 – 90
086. The biography of John Adams, written by David McCullough won the Pulitzer Prize.
087. Had Americans not won the Revolutionary War, John Adams might have been hung, being not listed under pardonable Americans.
088. Until his presidentship, John Adams sincerely observed the Sabbath Day. But couldn’t continue during his stays at Paris.
089. John Adams was a fine pen pal, kept in touch with family and friends, evident from the scores of correspondences archived.
090. John Adams pioneered the American Revolution through anonymous newspaper articles and propaganda pamphlets during the Stamp Act era since 1765.
John Adams Facts: Fun Facts | 91 – 95
091. Though John Adams was statesmanly, he was also characterized as a gadfly by historians. His presidency inauguration was lonely without family members.
082. For two years since 1798, John Adams proclaimed a national day of fasting, which he believed was misunderstood, causing his defeat.
093. As Adams suggested that President George Washington be addressed as ‘His Majesty’ or ‘His Highness,’ he was ridiculed as ‘His Rotundity.’
094. Adams wrote to wife that “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.”
095. By the time, the draft Declaration of Independence was debated, reworded and approved, it was the fourth day of July, 1776.
John Adams Facts: Quotable Quotes | 95 – 100
096. “There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”.
097. “I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.”
098. “You will ever remember that all the end of study is to make you a good man and a useful citizen.”
099. “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
100. “Always stand on principle….even if you stand alone.”
01. Mental Floss
06. America’s Library
08. John Adams Heritage
09. Constitution Center
16. World Atlas
18. The Guardian
19. Washington Post