Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: As a member of the Continental Congress, Adams helped bring the American Colonies to the point of independence in 1776. As one of the new nation’s first diplomats, he helped negotiate the treaty that ended the American War of Independence. He was the second president of the United States.
John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Braintree, Massachusetts, where his family had lived for nearly a century. His father was a farmer and a town constable who expected his eldest son, John, to become a Congregational minister. The young Adams attended the Free Latin School in Braintree and then enrolled at Harvard College in 1751. On graduation in 1755, he taught school for a while at Worcester before deciding to abandon the ministry to take up law instead. In 1758, the intelligent, studious Adams returned to Braintree to practice law in what was still a country town only ten miles from Boston.
Six years later, he married Abigail Smith of Quincy, Massachusetts, a woman who matched him in intelligence and ambition and perhaps exceeded him in practicality. Short and already stocky (colleagues later called him rotund), Adams seemed to be settling into the life of a successful country courthouse lawyer who might, in time, aspire to a seat in the...
(The entire section is 2789 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
John Adams, the second president and the first vice president of the United States, was born in the settlement of Braintree in the colony of Massachusetts on October 30, 1735. He was educated at Harvard College, graduating in 1755 with the intention of entering the ministry. Deciding that he could not subscribe wholeheartedly to Calvinist doctrine, he turned instead to the law and studied in Boston after a brief period of teaching school in Worcester, Massachusetts. He passed his bar examinations in November of 1758 and set up practice in Braintree. In 1764, following his marriage to Abigail Smith, he established himself in Boston.
Adams’s place in American history is assured by the high public offices he held. Even if he had never won a political election, however, his importance as an active member of the revolutionary party, his eloquence as a spokesman for the revolutionary cause, and his clarity as a definer of constitutional democracy would place him alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin in the foremost rank of the country’s founders. He was both a public figure and a writer on matters of law and government. His writing began in 1765 with his “Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law,” and his career as a public figure began with his move to Boston, for it was then that he first gained wide recognition by successfully defending John Hancock against a charge of smuggling. His association with the patriotic cause...
(The entire section is 830 words.)