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Interesting Facts About John Adams Life

Updated on September 6, 2016

John Adams, Jr. (born October 30 and later died on July 4, 1826) was an American lawyer, author, statesman, and diplomat. He served as the second

President of the United States (1797–1801), the first Vice President (1789–97), and as a Founding Father was a leader of American independence from

Great Britain.

Portrait of John Adam
Portrait of John Adam | Source

The White House

He was the first president to live in the executive mansion, now known as the White House.

With the Residence Act of 1790, the government established a temporary capital in Philadelphia while the new federal city of Washington D.C. was constructed.

For most of his one term, Adams lived in Philadelphia, but starting on Nov. 1, 1800, while it was still being constructed, he became the first President to live in the White House.

When President Adams arrived in Washington, D.C., from Philadelphia the mansion still reeked of wet plaster and paint fumes. Fireplaces were lit in every room to combat the cold and dampness, and the first lady Abigail, used the unplastered East Room to hang the presidents laundry. Defeated in the 1800 election, Adams lived there for four months before his term ended.



John Adams was the only one of the first five presidents to not own a slave.His predecessor, George Washington, owned over 300 slaves at the time of his death.

In an 1819 letter to Robert Evans he wrote:

"I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in such abhorrence that I never owned a negro or any other slavery."

Even though he personally objected to the practice, he did not support the abolition of slavery, because he feared backlash from the south.

In 1801, two abolitionists sent a pamphlet by Warner Mifflin to John Adams. He responded that, while he was opposed to slavery and had never owned a slave in his life, he did not support the abolitionist movement.

He feard opposition from the southerners, in a time when America needed to be more united than ever to achieve independence.

However, his wife remained an outspoken critic of slavery throughout her life.

John Adams wife Abigail Smith Adams
John Adams wife Abigail Smith Adams | Source


The debate on how to properly address George Washington had taken over Congress in the weeks after his 1789 inauguration. Adams, who presided over the Senate as the vice president, felt the office required a grand title to convey power on par with the royal courts of Europe.

Adams argued for the title of "His Majesty the President" or "His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of Their Liberties." He argued that fire companies and cricket clubs had mere “presidents” and that Washington should be called “His Majesty the President” or “His Highness, the President of the United States of America, and Protector of the Rights of the Same.” To many Americans who had just rid themselves of a monarch, the titles were too royal, and Congress agreed that Washington’s title should simply be “The President of the United States.”


The Boston Massacre

After the Boston Massacre John Adams agreed to serve as counsel for the nine British soldiers charged with manslaughter to ensure they received a fair trial.

Adams argued that the soldiers fired in self-defense against an angry mob and he won a surprising acquittal for seven of the defendants, including the British officer in charge, Captain Thomas Preston.

However, two soldiers were convicted of manslaughter but avoided prison sentences.

He, however, did go on to say that what had transpired should entirely be called a massacre.


John Adams Death

Adams died on the same day as his rival Thomas Jefferson on July 4 th , 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Once fellow patriots and then bitter rivals,Jeferson and Adams remained in constant correspondence throughout their lives and were vital in the early years of the United States.

On his deathbed, the 90-year-old Adams whispered his last words: "Thomas Jefferson survives." But Jefferson had died a few hours earlier, five hours earlier to be exact, the 83-year-old Jefferson had died at Monticello.


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John Adams was one of the most educated legislator who also served as the first vice president and second president of the United States.

Unlike his predecessor, Washington, and his successor, Jefferson, the second President has not been honored with a memorial or monument dedicated to him.

Congress authorized the Adams Memorial Foundation to raise funds and construct a memorial to the entire Adams family in 2001, but nothing has been planned or finalized.

In July 2014, a bill was passed to continue the legislative authority of the Adams Memorial Foundation.


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