A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


John Adams

19 October 1735 - 4 July 1826

John Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, on 19 October 1735. He married Abigail Smith on 25 October 1764, and for several years the Adamses moved their household between Braintree and Boston as warranted by John's legal career. In 1770, Adams successfully defended the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre. From 1774 to 1777, Adams served in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In 1779, he was elected to the convention to frame the Massachusetts state constitution, the oldest written constitution in the world still in effect today. In 1788, after serving three years as the first American minister to the Court of St. James in London, Adams returned to the United States. He served as vice president under George Washington for eight years and became the second president of the United States in 1796. Adams was not reelected to a second term, and he retired from public life to his farm in Quincy. He died on 4 July 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.