John Adams

2nd President John Adams, 1797-18012nd President John Adams, 1797-18012nd President John Adams, 1797-18012nd President John Adams, 1797-18012nd President John Adams, 1797-1801

2nd President John Adams, 1797-1801

2nd President of the United States
(March 4, 1797 to March 3, 1801)

Full Name: John Adams
Nickname: "Atlas of Independence"

Born: October 30, 1735, in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts
Died: July 4, 1826, in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts

Father: John Adams (1691-1761)
Mother: Susanna Boylston Adams (1708-1797)
Married: Abigail Smith (1744-1818), on October 25, 1764
Children: Abigail Amelia Adams (1765-1813); John Quincy Adams (1767-1848); Susanna Adams (1768-70); Charles Adams (1770-1800); Thomas Boylston Adams (1772-1832)

Religion: Unitarian
Education: Graduated from Harvard College (1755)
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Federalist
Other Government Positions:

  • Member of Continental Congress, 1774-78
  • Commissioner to France, 1778
  • Minister to the Netherlands, 1780
  • Minister to England, 1785
  • Vice President, 1789-97 (under Washington)

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Vice President: Thomas Jefferson (1797-1801)


Secretary of State
Timothy Pickering (1797-1800)
John Marshall (1800-01)
Secretary of the Treasury
Oliver Wolcott, Jr. (1797-1801)
Samuel Dexter (1801)
Secretary of War
James McHenry (1797-1800)
Samuel Dexter (1800-01)
Attorney General
Charles Lee (1797-1801)
Secretary of the Navy
Benjamin Stoddert (1798-1801)

Supreme Court Justices:
Bushrod Washington (1798-1829)
Alfred Moore (1800-1804)
John Marshall, Chief (1801-1835)

Notable Events:
  • 1797
    • Three French agents asked for bribes to talk to the French Foreign Minister. The resulting XYZ Affair almost led to war.
  • 1798
  • 1800
    • On June 11, the U.S. capital was relocated from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
    • Congress established the Library of Congress.
Internet Biographies:
John Adams -- from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
John Adams -- from The American President
From the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in addition to information on the Presidents themselves, they have first lady and cabinet member biographies, listings of presidential staff and advisers, and timelines detailing significant events in the lives of each administration.
John Adams -- from Encyclopaedia Britannica
Facts about Adams and his presidency.
Biography of John Adams -- from From Revolution to Reconstruction
Biography written by Jim Liesenfelt for this American Revolution HTML project. Still under construction, but does contain some original material.
Other Internet Resources:
Adams National Historical Site
The birthplace of John Adams and other notable Americans. From the National Park Service.
The Best Biographies of John Adams
In 2012, Stephen Floyd started his search for the best biography of each president. He usually has reviews of multiple biographies for each president.
Health and Medical History of John Adams
Medical background of each president with references. Compiled by John Sotos, MD.
John Adams
Streaming episodes of the award-winning HBO mini-series.
John Adams Building
Inscriptions and quotations in the John Adams Building of the Library of Congress. Photographs of this building of the Library of Congress are included.
John Adams Historical Society
Interesting resource for beginners and those that want a more in-depth understanding of John Adams.
Points of Interest:

135 Adams Street, Quincy, Massachusetts

141 Franklin Street, Quincy, Massachusetts

Additional Facts:
  • The Adams' were the first residents of the White House. They moved in in November 1800 while the paint was still wet. Mrs. Adams would hang her laundry in the East Room to dry.
  • Adams was one of three presidents not to attend the inauguration of his successor. Not only was Adams disappointed in losing to Jefferson, he was also grieving the death of his son Charles.
  • Adams was the great-great-grandson of John and Priscilla Alden, Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
  • Adams was the first president whose mother lived long enough to see him become president.
  • Adams was the first president to have a child die while in office. His son, Charles, died of cirrhosis of the liver when he was 30.
  • Adams defended the British soldiers that killed five Americans in the Boston Massacre.
  • During the Continental Congresses Adams served on more committees than any other congressman—ninety in all, of which he chaired twenty.
  • The only presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence Adams and Jefferson both died on its 50th anniversary, July 4, 1826. Adams' dying words were "Thomas Jefferson survives". Jefferson, however, had passed on a few hours earlier.

“To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.”

“A pen is certainly an excellent instrument to fix a man’s attention and to inflame his ambition.”

“I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessing on this house (the White House) and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof!”

“Let every sluice of knowledge be open and set a-flowing.”

“The happiness of society is the end of government.”

“Power must never be trusted without a check.”

“Fear is the foundation of most governments.”

“There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”

Previous President: George Washington
Next President: Thomas Jefferson