John Adams - 2nd President
John Adams was our first vice president under George Washington, and later elected as our second American President (March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801). He is often confused with his son John Quincy Adams, who became the sixth President. They were the first father son duo who became President. George Bush and George W. Bush would become the second father son presidential duo.
He was one of the most influential of the founding fathers, although he was more successful as a philosopher than as a president. Back during his own time, his accomplishments as a president were not celebrated and often overlooked. This may have been in part due to his introverted personality and lack of good looks that caused him to be nicknamed "His Rotundity." Fortunately now, we can see all the great things he did and the impact he made on the United States of America. He helped set the groundwork for our country, and is part of the reason our country is the country it is today.
Photo of John Adams
John Adams Family History
He was born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree, Massachussettes Bay and died at age 90 on July 4,1826. Coincidentally he died just hours before Thomas Jefferson. As legend has it, his ironic last words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives."
Adams and his wife Abigail Smith had six children. He and his wife were considered to have a very good relationship. John Quincy Adams was his second born. One of the six, which he named Elizabeth was born as a stillborn. Only four of his children survived until adulthood.
He was part of the unitarianism faith, although they claimed they were Christian, they did not believe in the Trinity. Unitarianists believed that God was only one person, separate from Jesus Christ. His father actually had other dreams for him and wanted him to become a minister. John had doubts that ministerial duties was the correct path for him.
Second President Photo
Was John Adams a Lawyer?
Prior to becoming President, he graduated from Harvard University then worked as a lawyer. At Harvard, he larned very good debating skills, and used these skills throughout his life. He was even nicknamed, "The Washington of Negotiations," because of his ability to use his words to get what he wanted. This unique ability saved America from warring with France.
He played a leading role in the Independence of the United States during the American Revolution. By being part of the first Continental Congress, men listened to him as he became one of the first men to suggest that America become Independent. He felt so strongly about this cause and others took notice. He was one of the men chosen to assist Thomas Jefferson in drafting the United States Declaration of Independence. Adams also wrote most of Bill of Rights.
Excerpt from the History Channel
Although George Washington was elected unanimously, each electorate had 2 votes. Washington had one vote of all 69, whereas John Adams came in second with 34 of the remaining 69 votes. As a result, he was elected as Vice President, which he felt was a pointless job. He even is quoted as complaining to his wife, "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." This poor attitude and lack of enthusiasm may be another reason he was not a favorite among the people.
During the first year of George Washington's Presidency, Adams wanted the President to have a title such as "Your Majesty the President," or "Your Mightiness." The plain title of "President of the United States," eventually won out. They felt that by having "your majesty," or "Your mightiness" it was giving too many ties to England that they wanted to be free from. Due to this as well as his stout stature, he received the nickname, "His Rotundity."
October 30, 1735 - Massachusetts Bay, British America
Age at Beginning of Presidency
Term of Office
March 4, 1797 - March 3, 1801
How Long President
Age and Year of Death
July 4, 1826 (aged 90)
Cause of Death
List Of American Presidents
2. John Adams
5. James Monroe
10. John Tyler
11. James K. Polk
12. Zachary Taylor
13. Millard Fillmore
14. Franklin Pierce
15. James Buchanan
16. Abraham Lincoln
17. Andrew Johnson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
20. James Garfield
21. Chester A. Arthur
22. Grover Cleveland
23. Benjamin Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
25. William McKinley
28. Woodrow Wilson
30. Calvin Coolidge
31. Herbert Hoover
33. Harry S. Truman
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
35. John F. Kennedy
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
37. Richard M. Nixon
38. Gerald R. Ford
39. James Carter
40. Ronald Reagan
41. George H. W. Bush
42. William J. Clinton
43. George W. Bush
44. Barack Obama
John Adams Term
During the election of 1796, in which John Quincy was elected, Thomas Jefferson and him were fierce competitors. Although some preferred Alexander Hamilton, Adams was chosen to represent the Federalist Party, mostly because he was believed to be the lesser of two evils.
The reason for the hesitancy to have him lead the country was felt because John Adams did not have the popularity nor the seriousness that allowed Washington to be so incredibly successful. They also feared that John was too opinionated, vain, and stubborn to follow their directions. The reason that he may have ended up winning the spot was because he seemed to be the most logical step, since he had spent eight years as Vice President.
Thomas Jefferson opposed him by being part of the Democratic-Republican party. The race was so tight that John Adams only won by three votes. He had 71 electoral votes whereas Jefferson had 68. Thomas Jefferson became the second Vice President of the United States as a result.
Adams was not an extremely popular president, in part because he was believed to be an unpracticed leader. Many felt that he should have found new cabinet members, instead of keeping the ones Washington had in place. John spent much of his presidency in his hometown, and even admitted in his late age that he didn't handle some of the Presidential responsibility as well as he should have. He stated, "[As president] I refused to suffer in silence. I sighed, sobbed, and groaned, and sometimes screeched and screamed. And I must confess to my shame and sorrow that I sometimes swore."
He did not make any great proposals during his presidency, and the country was pretty stagnant to change during his term. It was not a surprise that he lost the next election to Thomas Jefferson, his current vice President.
The President's House
At the end of his Presideny, he became the first President to live in the White House. The White House was never completely finished during his stay there. On his second day in the White House, he wrote a note to his wife, he stated, "Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof." After he left office, he retired to Massachussettes and lived longer than any President dying at age 91.
- Died hours after his successor Thomas Jefferson on July 4th, 1826.
- He led the movement for the Declaration of Independence, although often overlooked since Jefferson penned it.
- First president to live in the new capital of Washington D.C and the first to live in the White House.
- The first president to have a son also become president.
- His last words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives," which ironically he died just hours before.
John Adams Memorabilia
© 2011 Angela Michelle
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- Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2014). John Adams. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/johnadams
- Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
- What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-are-some-interesting-facts-about-presidents-first-ladies