Adams Family of Massachusetts


John Adams (1735-1826), 3rd cousin 8x removed

John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd President of the United States

John Adams was an American Founding Father, an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States (1797-1801).  Hailing from New England, Adams, a prominent lawyer and public figure in Boston, was highly educated and represented Enlightenment values promoting republicanism.  A Federalist, he was highly influential and one of the key Founding Fathers of the United States. Adams came to prominence in the early stages of the American Revolution.  As a delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental Congress, he played a leading role in persuading Congress to declare independence and assisted Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence.  As a diplomat in Europe, he was a major negotiator of the eventual peace treaty with Great Britain, and chiefly responsible for obtaining important loans from Amsterdam bankers.  A political theorist and historian, Adams largely wrote the Massachusetts state constitution in 1780 which soon after ended slavery in the state[1].  The Massachusetts state constitution remains the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world.  However, Adams was in Europe when the federal Constitution was drafted on similar principles later in the decade.  Adams’ revolutionary credentials secured him two terms as George Washington’s vice president and his own election in 1796 as the second president.  During his one term, he encountered ferocious attacks by the Jeffersonian Republicans, as well as the dominant faction in his own Federalist Party led by his bitter enemy, Alexander Hamilton.  Adams signed the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts and built up the army and navy in the face of an undeclared naval war (called the “Quasi War”) with France, 1798–1800.  The major accomplishment of his presidency was his peaceful resolution of the conflict in the face of Hamilton’s opposition.  In 1800 Adams was defeated for re-election by Thomas Jefferson and retired to Massachusetts.  He later resumed his friendship with Jefferson.  He and his wife, Abigail Adams, founded an accomplished family line of politicians, diplomats, and historians now referred to as the Adams political family.  Adams was the father of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States.  His achievements have received greater recognition in modern times, though his contributions were not initially as celebrated as those of other Founders.  John Adams died on 4 Jul 1826, the 50th anniversary of the first Independence Day celebration[2].  Another co-signor of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, died on the same day.


John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 4th cousin 7x removed

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 6th President of the United States

John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States (1825-29).  He served as an American diplomat, Senator and Congressional representative.  He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties.  Adams was the son of former President John Adams and Abigail Adams.  As a diplomat, Adams played an important role in negotiating many international treaties, most notably the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812.  As Secretary of State, he negotiated with the United Kingdom over America’s northern border with Canada, negotiated with Spain the annexation of Florida, and authored the Monroe Doctrine.  Historians agree he was one of the greatest diplomats and secretaries of state in American history.  As president, he sought to modernize the American economy and promoted education.  Adams enacted a part of his agenda and paid off much of the national debt.  He was stymied by a Congress controlled by his enemies and his lack of patronage networks helped politicians eager to undercut him.  He lost his 1828 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson.  In doing so, he became the first President since his father to serve a single term.

Adams is best known as a diplomat who shaped America’s foreign policy in line with his ardently nationalist commitment to America’s republican values.  Adams first won national recognition when he published a series of widely read articles supporting Washington’s decision to keep America out of the growing hostilities surrounding the French Revolution.  Soon after, George Washington appointed Adams minister to the Netherlands (at the age of 26) in 1794.  On his way to the Netherlands, he was to deliver a set of documents to Chief Justice John Jay, who was negotiating the Jay Treaty. After spending some time with Jay discussing the treaty, Adams wrote home to his father, in support of the emerging treaty because he thought America should stay out of European affairs.  While going back and forth between The Hague and London, he met and proposed to his future wife.  Though he wanted to return to private life at the end of his appointment, Washington appointed him minister to Portugal in 1796, where he was soon promoted to the Berlin Legation.  Though his talents were far greater than his desire to serve, he was finally convinced to remain in public service when he learned how highly Washington felt of his abilities.  Washington called Adams “the most valuable of America’s officials abroad”.

Louisa Catherine (Johnson) Adams (1775-1852), the only “First Lady” to be born outside of the United States – portrait by Gilbert Stuart, painted in the mid 1820s

When the elder Adams became president, he appointed his son in 1797 as Minister to Prussia at Washington’s urging. There Adams signed the renewal of the very liberal Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce after negotiations with Prussian Foreign Minister Count Karl-Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein.  He served at that post until 1801. While serving abroad, Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of an American merchant, in a ceremony at the church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower, London.  Adams remains the only president to have a First Lady born outside of the United States.


On my father’s side, I am related to John Adams and John Quincy Adams as follows:

(President, 6th) John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848), 4th cousin 7x removed – (President, 2nd) John Adams (1735 – 1826), 3rd cousin 8x removed – John Adams (1691 – 1761) – Hannah Bass (1667 – 1705) – Ruth Alden (1634 – 1674) – John Alden (1599 – 1687) – Elizabeth Alden (1624 – 1717) – Martha Pabodie (1651 – 1712) – Joseph Seabury (1678 – 1755) – Elizabeth “Betty” Seabury (1730 – 1815) – Joseph Allen (1758 – 1838) – Elizabeth Allen (1788 – 1871) – Laura Ann King (1811 – 1882) – Harriet Allen Clarke (1839 – 1898) – Clarence Clark Hamlin (1868 – 1940) – Elizabeth Gunnell Hamlin (1901 – 1982) – Tor Martin Hylbom (1939 – 2009) – Tor Martin (Majerus) Hylbom


Abigail (Smith) Adams (1744 – 1818), 5th cousin 9x removed

Abigail Adams (1744-1818)

Abigail Adams (née Smith) was the wife of John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth. She was the first Second Lady of the United States, and the second First Lady of the United States. Adams is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses. John frequently sought the advice of Abigail on many matters, and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. The letters serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolutionary War home front.

On my father’s side, President John Adams’ wife, Abigail (Smith) Adams, is my 5th cousin 9x removed through Thomas Fowle (1540-1592) and Elizabeth Carre (1545-1570), as follows:

Abigail Smith (1744 – 1818), 5th cousin 9x removed – Rev. William Smith Jr. (1693 – 1745) – Abigail Fowle (1679 – 1731) – Isaac Fowle (1648 – 1718) – George Fowle (1610 – 1682) – Myles Fowle (1562 – 1630) – Thomas Fowle (1540 – 1592) – Richard Fowle (1569 – 1632) – Joan Fowle (1604 – 1688) – Mary Borden (1632 – 1690) – Sarah Cooke (1658 – 1735) – Mary Waite (1680 – 1769) – William Earle (1710 – 1797) – Caleb Earle (1745 – 1820) – Prudence Earle (1767 – 1843) – Elizabeth Allen (1788 – 1871) – Laura Ann King (1811 – 1882) – Harriet Allen Clarke (1839 – 1898) – Clarence Clark Hamlin (1868 – 1940) – Elizabeth Gunnell Hamlin (1901 – 1982) – Tor Martin Hylbom (1939 – 2009) – Tor Martin (Majerus) Hylbom

Birthplace of U. S. President John Adams, in Quincy, Massachusetts. This house is now part of the Adams National Historical Park operated by the National Park Service, and is open to the public (photo by Daderot, 2005).

“Peacefield” in Quincy, Massachusetts, the residence of U. S. President John Adams and his family for four generations. It was home to Adams and his wife Abigail Adams, their son President John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa Catherine Adams, their son Charles Francis Adams (ambassador to the United Kingdom during the American Civil War) and historians Henry Adams and Brooks Adams. This house is now part of the Adams National Historical Park operated by the National Park Service, and is open to the public (photo by Daderot, 2005).

Tombs of President John Adams (left) and John Quincy Adams (right), and their wives. Family crypt is located beneath the United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts (photo by Daderot, 2005).

This bust of John Adams was made from his life mask at age 90.

This bust of John Adams was made from his life mask at age 90.

[1] Based on Article I: All men [later amended to substitute the word “people” for the word “men“] are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. This Article was the subject of a landmark case in 1781, Brom and Bett v. Ashley. Elizabeth Freeman (whose slave name was “Bett”), a black slave owned by Colonel John Ashley, sued for her freedom based on this article. The jury agreed that slavery was inconsistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, and awarded Freeman five silver pounds in damages and her freedom. A few years later, Quock Walker, a black slave, sued his master for false imprisonment; the jury found for Walker, and awarded him damages of fifty silver pounds (not a small sum in those days). His master was then subject to criminal prosecution for assault and battery against Walker, and was found guilty by a jury, who imposed a fine of forty shillings upon the master. In this manner, slavery lost any and all legal protection in Massachusetts, making it a tortious act under the law, effectively abolishing it within the Commonwealth. This Article was also the basis for the 2004 Supreme Judicial Court ruling requiring that marriage rights be extended to same-gender couples on an equal basis with opposite-gender couples.

[2] Of course, it is well known that the Declaration of Independence was not actually signed on 4 Jul 1776, although the document does bear that date.



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