Second President of the United States
Born in 1735 - Died July 4, 1826

John Adams

John Adams was born in Massachusetts, the son of a farmer. He enjoyed farming and hunting while he was growing up.

His father taught him to read when he was very young, then he attended school and entered Harvard on a scholarship when he was fifteen years old and graduated when he was twenty. Harvard at that time consisted of four buildings and a faculty of twelve. While he was in college he began to keep a diary. It was very small, about the size of your hand. His handwriting was so tiny you would need a magnifying glass to read the words.

After graduation he became a schoolmaster. Sometimes he would select a bright student to teach the class, and he would sit back and read or write. He soon tired of teaching and decided to start studying to become a lawyer.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams

When he was twenty-eight he married Abigail Smith, who was his third cousin. She was nineteen years old. They had a long and successful marriage. They had four children. One of their sons, John Quincy Adams, would later become President. Abigail was the first First Lady to live in the White House.

John suffered from ill health and at one point moved from Boston back to Braintree (Quincy), Masssachusetts, his birthplace. He then began to commute* to work and spent the rest of his time in the country with his family. What a commute it was! Just think how difficult it would be to ride 400 miles on horseback in the middle of winter. Abigail was left at home to take care of things. The couple was separated a total of about ten years while he served his country.

At one time when he was a lawyer, he defended the British soldiers who were put on trial after what was called the Boston Massacre. Some citizens had been killed when the soldiers fired into the crowd. No other lawyer would defend them, but John thought they should have a defender. He risked his career to do it, but it didn't seem to hurt his reputation* .

John Adams accomplished a lot. He served in the Continental Congress. He nominated* George Washington to become commander-in-chief of the Army. He also was the one who chose Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. Significantly, he also got Congress to vote for the Declaration. He was very influential* in the early days of America.

John Adams was a brave person. When he was asked to go to France to enlist their support for the Revolution, he accepted the challenge. He and his 10-year-old son, John Quincy, braved the ocean on the ship "Boston" in the dead of winter. During the voyage they encounted a hurricane, an enemy ship which engaged them in a battle, and a period of calm waters where the ship could not move. They finally made it, and father and son remained in France for about a year.

John Adams served as vice-president to George Washington. During this time he got the Dutch* government to provide large sums of money to finance the Revolution. He wished to be remembered for this act above his other accomplishments.

He served one term as President, then went home to Quincy and remained there for twenty-five years until his death. During this time his wife and his daughter both died.

John Adams taught himself French during the times he was sailing across the Atlantic.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had become rivals and his friend became his enemy. John made the first move to reconcile* , and they became friends again. They wrote letters to each other until their deaths which curiously occurred on the same day, July 4, 1826. John Adams was ninety-one years old.

This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2007.

A frequent question:
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and when was it written?"
Look on this Reference Citations Chart.

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A Man Worth Knowing
Lecture by David McCullough at
Hillsdale College May 2006

John Adams

John and Abilgail Adams
transcript of the film at PBS

John Adams

John Adams
facts from American

Information about John Adams
(Look in the box top left) at Humanities Web

Adams Family Papers
autobiography, diary, letters, etc.

President John Adams
from Wikipedia

John Adams Lesson Plan
(You must register to access lessons.)

Biography of John Adams

The Works of John Adams
online book

Letters of Mrs. Adams
online book of letters written by John Adams' wife

The First English Settlements
video lesson
(Click on the topics "Interactive Media Files",
be sure volume is turned up.)

The Papers of John Adams
from Yale Law School

John Adams
facts and links from

459670: John Adams John Adams
By Jennifer Blizin Gillis / Heinemann Raintree School Supply

The second president of the United States, this biography of John Adams spans his lifetime. Concentrating on the work he did to make life better for himself and other Americans, students are asked to imagine what his life must have been like. This book includes bullets, captions, fact box/side bar, maps, a primary source, and timeline. 32 pages, paperback. Grade 3.

002516: Heroes of History: John Adams, Independence Forever Heroes of History: John Adams, Independence Forever
By Janet əamp; Geoff Benge / Emerald Books

With consistent historical depth and an engaging narrative style, Heroes of History chronicles the remarkable true stories of fascinating men and women who changed the course of history. Examines the childhood, marriage, family life, and political career of the American patriot who served his country as a representative to the Continental Congress, ambassador to Great Britian and second president of the United States.

801485: The Five Thousand Year Leap: The 28 Great Ideas That Are Changing the World, Revised Edition The Five Thousand Year Leap: The 28 Great Ideas That Are Changing the World, Revised Edition
By W. Cleon Skousen / National Center For Constitutional Study

The Founding Fathers were great students of history, and as such they could best represent what Americans - both in their time and in future generations - would need to understand and perpetuate for freedom, peace and prosperity to remain parts of American society. Some of these are familiar to most citizens, such as checks and balances between the three parts of government and that all men are created equal. Some are less well-known, like the avoidance of making alliances with our frindly nations and the 'genius of natural law'. Others are more nuanced than we might initially think, such as the sovereignity of the people and the advantages of a republic over a demoncracy. These are all discussed at length in The 5000 Year Leap. W. Cleon Skousen, a Mormon historian, writes outside of his belief system to address specifically American foundational governmental principles in this very comprehensive volume.

570887: The Faith of America"s First Ladies The Faith of America's First Ladies
By Jane Hampton Cook / Amg Publishers

Modern-day pressures for supermodel beauty, high-powered careers, and perfect families place a spotlight on a woman's achievements instead of her worth. This book, using stories from numerous First Ladies, shows how they triumphed while experiencing intense pressure. By using their stories, along with a Hebrew proverb and biblical principles, Jane Cook explains that God is the true source of value and worth.

Women will be encouraged to view their roles, talents, and responsibilities as opportunities to allow God to shine through them. Highlights include:

  • Abigail Adams' commitment to serving as the primary caretaker for her family during the Revolution shows the worth of working with eager hands, (Proverbs 31:13).
  • Laura Bush's heart of compassion shows the significance of extending hands to the poor and needy in times of crisis, (Proverbs 31:20).
  • Louisa Adams' remarkable solo journey to Paris under siege by Napoleon shows the value of steadfastness during a time of terror threats, (Proverbs 31:21).
  • Barbara Bush's wit and quips reveal the splendor of celebrating joy in life, (Proverbs 31:25).
  • Martha Washington's willingness to knit shirts and socks for soldiers during the Revolution shows the value of leading by example, (Proverbs 31:19).
  • Anna Harrison's words of wisdom and prayers for her children and grandchildren deliver a family legacy of faith and leadership. (Proverbs 31:26).

From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

Pronunciation: kə-'myoot
Function: verb
to travel back and forth regularly

Pronunciation: "rep-yə-'tA-shən
Function: noun
overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general

Pronunciation: 'nahm-ə-"nAt
Function: verb
to choose as a candidate for election, appointment, or honor;
especially : to propose for office

Pronunciation: "in-(")floo-'en-chəl
Function: adjective
having influence

Pronunciation: 'dəch
Function: adjective
of or relating to the Netherlands,
its inhabitants, or their language

Pronunciation: 'rek-ən-"sIl
Function: verb
to make friendly again


How to draw the life and times of John Adams
by Ryan P. Randolph (selected pages) Order here

John Adams America's Second President
by Carole Marsh (selected pages) Order here

John Adams Speaks for Freedom (Ready to Read Level 3)
by Deborah Hopkinson, Craig Orback (selected pages) Order here

John Adams: A Photo-illustrated Biography
by Muriel L. Dubois (selected pages) Order here

John Adams: Patriot, Diplomat, and Statesman
by Miriam Gross (selected pages) Order here

The Revolutionary John Adams
by Cheryl Harness (selected pages) Order here

Abigail Adams:Girl of Colonial Days
by Jean Brown Wagoner (selected pages) Order here

John Adams
by David McCullough (selected pages)

Preview these Amazon books using the links below.

John Adams, History Maker Bios
by Jane Sutcliffe (selected pages)

John Adams Our Second President
by Sneed B. Collard (selected pages)

John Adams, Presidential Leaders
by Carol H. Behrman (selected pages)

John Adams, Young Revolutionary
by Jan Adkins, Meryl Henderson (selected pages)

Profiles of the Presidents, John Adams
by Andrew Santella (selected pages)

John Adams, 2nd President of the United States
by Heidi M. D. Elston (selected pages)

John Adams, Presidents and Their Times
by Wil Mara (selected pages)

Page Comments

Most Recent Comments   ( See more comments on this page )
It would be nice if here was a Samuel Adams link.
I didn't find this very helpful in a project I'm doing. It need more information. Good effort though!
good info. every time in history we get a paper and we have to come to this website .

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Biographies in this Series

Reference citations information for these biographies

Presidents of
the United States
George Washington John Adams Thomas Jefferson James Madison James Monroe Andrew Jackson
  Martin Van Buren Abraham Lincoln Theodore Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt Harry S. Truman Dwight D. Eisenhower
  John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson Jimmy Carter Ronald Reagan Barack Obama Calvin Coolidge
American Patriots Benjamin Franklin Francis Scott Key Deborah Sampson Molly Pitcher
World Leaders Constantine Alexander the Great Winston Churchill Margaret Thatcher
Inventors Alexander Graham Bell Johann Gutenberg Cyrus McCormick The Wright Brothers Henry Ford Thomas A. Edison
  Sequoyah Nikola Tesla Michael Faraday Dean Kamen Jack Kilby Leonardo Da Vinci
  Donald O'Neal
Explorers Christopher Columbus Meriwether Lewis Robert Peary John Muir Matthew Henson Sir Edmund Hillary
  Kit Carson Johnny Appleseed Daniel Boone
Women who made
a difference
Clara Barton Helen Keller Florence Nightingale Joan of Arc Amelia Earhart Annie Oakley
  Susan B. Anthony Elizabeth Keckly Harriet Tubman Anne Frank Eleanor Roosevelt Madam C.J. Walker
  Sadako Sasaki Henrietta Lacks Malala Yousafzai      
Scientists George Washington Carver Sir Isaac Newton Marie Curie Louis Pasteur Albert Einstein Galileo
  Lise Meitner Norman Borlaug Benjamin Banneker
Educators Noah Webster Booker T. Washington Aristotle Mary McLeod Bethune
Physicians Hippocrates Walter Reed Albert Schweitzer
Religious Leaders George Muller Increase Mather
Athletes Lou Gehrig Wilma Rudolph Tiger Woods Michael Phelps
Civil Rights
Martin Luther King Rosa Parks Sojourner Truth Frederick Douglass Mary Ann Shadd Cary James Forten
  Gandhi César Chávez William Wilberforce Nelson Mandela
Composers Beethoven Mozart
Authors Laura Ingalls Wilder Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) Ernest Hemingway Greg Mortenson Phillis Wheatley
Artists John James Audubon Gutzon Borglum Ansel Adams Dale Chihuly Van Gogh Michelangelo
  Rembrandt Grandma Moses Cassatt Renoir Cezanne Rockwell


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Abigail Adams image courtesy of unforth at Flickr.

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