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John Adams - 2nd President

Updated on October 22, 2017
angela_michelle profile image

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past. Without it, we are destined to repeat the past.

John Adams was our second president.
John Adams was our second president. | Source

His Rotundity

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

Not only was he one of our founding fathers, but he was also our first vice-president.
Not only was he one of our founding fathers, but he was also our first vice-president. | Source

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams was John Adams wife and mother of John Quincy Adams. They had a very healthy marriage
Abigail Adams was John Adams wife and mother of John Quincy Adams. They had a very healthy marriage | Source

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

Our second President was also our first vice-president.
Our second President was also our first vice-president. | Source

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

Vice Presidency

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."

Basic Facts

October 30, 1735 - Massachusetts Bay, British America
President Number
Military Service
Wars Served
Age at Beginning of Presidency
62 years
Term of Office
March 4, 1797 - March 3, 1801
How Long President
4 years
Thomas Jefferson
Age and Year of Death
July 4, 1826 (aged 90)
Cause of Death

List Of American Presidents

1. George Washington

2. John Adams

3. Thomas Jefferson

4. James Madison

5. James Monroe

6. John Quincy Adams

7. Andrew Jackson

8. Martin Van Buren

9. William Henry Harrison

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

26. Theodore Roosevelt

27. William Howard Taft

28. Woodrow Wilson

29. Warren G. Harding

30. Calvin Coolidge

31. Herbert Hoover

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

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

45. Donald Trump

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.

Fun Facts

  • 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.


  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2014). John Adams. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from
  • 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

© 2011 Angela Michelle Schultz


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    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 4 years ago from California, United States of America

      Presidents are an interesting subject to me, and I didn't know Adams was kind of unpopular; but it makes sense because you don't hear things about him like you do a President like Washington or Jefferson. However, it's interesting his role in the early United States. Sounds like he was a bit honest, that can make you unpopular.

      Good and fascination info. Thanks for sharing.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 6 years ago from United States

      No, I haven't. What is it called?

    • Raymond Tremain profile image

      Raymond Tremain 6 years ago from Metro Manila Philippines

      Has anyone seen the film made and called John Adams this tells the life history of John Adams about how he was elected, its been shown many times over here in aussie land, and it is a great film, if you have not seen it you should.

      God loves all

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 6 years ago from United States

      Very true. :)

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Most of our presidents were humans who had some good qualities and some bad.The reason we have limited terms is to avoid one man dominating the office.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 6 years ago from United States

      Are you serious? God did not bless John Adams prayer and put only good men in the White House? I guess maybe one or two "bad" men got elected in there... So, out of the 44 Presidents, how many do you think went bad? LOL

    • Harlan Colt profile image

      Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

      Jimmy Carter is about 110 now isn't he? LOL just kidding.

      I liked this article, I love history though. I am sorry to report God did not grant Adam's prayer for only good men to enter into the Whitehouse, as we have had many a liar and "intern-chaser" occupy that grand old mansion.

      Great hub!

      - Harlan