Adams, John 1735–1826

John Adams, lawyer, statesman, vice president, and president of the United States, was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, on October 19, 1735. He was the third son of Susanna Boylston Adams and John Adams, a farmer, shoemaker, selectman, and deacon of the local congregational church. Although Adams had decided at an early age that he wanted to be a farmer, his father convinced him to enter Harvard College and become a minister. By the time he graduated in 1755, however, Adams had given up the idea of entering the ministry and instead took a position teaching at a grammar school in Worcester, Massachusetts. Resolving to enter the legal profession, he taught during the day and read law at night with James Putnam. After completing his studies, he returned to Braintree in 1758 and, with the assistance of Jeremiah Gridley and Oxenbridge Thacher, was admitted to the Boston bar in November. Adams lost his first case, involving two feuding neighbors, on a technicality and resolved to become a better lawyer. His diary reveals numerous occasions of self-doubt and despair during this period of his life, but with each successive case he gained more confidence. He soon revealed to Jonathan Sewall that he had a newfound admiration for his profession. While practicing law, Adams met and married Abigail Smith, a minister’s daughter from Weymouth, Massachusetts, who had schooled herself well in the art of politics and literature. Their partnership was both an intimate and intellectual one, as their many surviving letters attest, and Abigail soon became Adams’s most trusted political advisor and confidante. They had five children together, four of whom survived into adulthood. Abigail, otherwise known as Nabby by the family, was the eldest, followed by John Quincy, who became the sixth president of the United States, Charles, and Thomas Boylston. As a leader of the revolutionary cause, European diplomat, first vice president, and second president of the fledgling nation, John Adams was acclaimed by his friend and rival Thomas Jefferson as the Colossus of Independence. (Private Collection/Christie’s Images/Bridgeman Art Library) John Adams (1735-1826) Photograph by Granger John Adams – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia John Adams (1735-1826) Photograph by Granger

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