2nd President (1797-1801)
Born: October 30, 1735
Died: July 4, 1826
Vice President: Thomas Jefferson
Political Party: Federalist
Next President: Thomas Jefferson
Previous President: George Washington
John Adams is best known as the man who served as the vice president to George Washington. Adams would go on to
be the second president of the United States and he would assign George Washington his final public office of
Senior Officer in the Army. John Adams was born on October 30, 1735 in Quincy, Massachusetts to John Adams, Sr. and
Susanna Boylston Adams. John Adams, Jr. was extremely active in public life from a very early age. At the age of
16, he attended Harvard University and graduated with a law degree. He became a Puritan deacon and dedicated his
life to the study of law and the pursuit of American independence.
In what was a fairly common practice back in his day, John Adams married his third cousin Abigail Smith on
October 25, 1764. The couple had six children and one of them was future president of the United States John Quincy
Adams. Where George Washington abhorred political parties and refused to join one, Adams was a staunch Federalist
who used his legal prowess to gain influence in the party. John Adams was not nearly as popular of a leader as his
famous cousin and future Massachusetts governor Samuel Adams because John Adams preferred to use legal precedence
and historical facts as his basis for managing. His style of management was considered dry and unapproachable.
John Adams and his wife had three daughters (Susanna, Abigail and Elizabeth) and three sons (John Quincy,
Charles and Thomas Boylston). Because of his keen mind for legal process and history, Adams was commonly called
upon to help set up the framework for important political events such as the first Continental Congress and the
original Constitution. His book "Thoughts on Government" became the framework for what much of the American
political system would become. Adams was so respected that he was the first representative sent to Europe by the
American Congress to represent the United States in European trade negotiations.
One of the common myths about John Adams is that he was appointed as the first vice president George Washington.
The fact is that George Washington beat John Adams in the first ever American presidential election by capturing 69
electoral votes compared to Adams’ 34 electoral votes. Because of his second place finish, Adams was made vice
president. Adams would have much preferred to be named the Chief Justice of the newly formed Supreme Court of the
United States. But he wound up presiding over the Senate instead and easily won his turn as President of the United
States when George Washington stepped down. Adams died on July 4, 1826.
John Adams Quotes
"Children should be educated and instructed in the principals of freedom"
"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or
more is a congress."
"Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives."
The Only President to...
He was also one of only two presidents to have signed the Declaration of Independence (the other
Interesting John Adams Facts
Until Ronald Reagan, he was the longest living United States president at 90 years, 247 days
(that record has since been broken by Gerald Ford).
Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the adoption of
the Declaration of Independence. Shortly before John Adams passed away, his last clear words were "Thomas
Jefferson" or simply "Jefferson" followed by some less intelligible words.
Some claim his last words were "Thomas Jefferson survives" but no one can say for sure. What we
do know is that unknown to Adams, Thomas Jefferson had actually died just hours earlier.