What Was John Adams’ Education?

Many people are familiar with the accomplishments of John Adams, but what was his education like?

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Early Life and Family

John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, to John Adams Sr. and Susanna Boylston Adams. He had two younger brothers, Peter and Elihu. His father was a deacon in the Congregational Church and a farmer. His mother was active in the church as well. Adams’ upbringing instilled in him a love for learning.

Adams’ birthplace

Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony town of Braintree (now Quincy), to John Adams Sr. and Susanna Boylston Adams. His father was a deacon in the Congregational Church, a farmer, a cordwainer (shoemaker), and selectman, and served as a lieutenant in 1722. His mother was born in the North Parish of Braintree; her grandfather, William Bassett, emigrated from England in 1632 and settled in Braintree.

Adams’ family

Adams was born on October 30, 1735, to John Adams Sr. and Susanna Boylston. His family had deep roots in Massachusetts Bay Colony; his paternal great-grandfather, Henry Adams, immigrated from England around 1636. His mother was descended from an ancient Puritan family. The second of three sons, Adams was educated at home by his father and later attended Boston Latin School. In 1751, Adams entered Harvard College, where he studied for two years before returning home to help his father manage the family farm. In 1756, he married Abigail Smith; the couple would have six children.

Adams’ Education

Adams was born and raised in the colony of Massachusetts. He was the oldest of three children, and his father was a deacon in the Congregational Church.Adams attended grammar school in his hometown of Braintree. At the age of sixteen, he enrolled at Harvard College, where he graduated in 1755.

Boston Latin School

Adams attended the Boston Latin School, which was then the only public secondary school in Boston. Adams’s schooling emphasized an intensive education in both Latin and Greek. By age ten, Adams could read and write correctly in Latin. At age fifteen, he graduated as valedictorian of his class.

Harvard College

John Adams attended Harvard College from 1755 to 1758. He was not a particularly engaged student and did not excel in his studies, but he did benefit from the excellent education he received there. After graduation, Adams became a lawyer and began his long and illustrious career in public service.

Adams’ later education

Adams spent some time at Harvard before he left to continue his education in Europe. He studied law under James Thaxter in Boston and John Quincy in Braintree. In 1758, he was admitted to the bar and began to practice law. He married Abigail Smith in 1764, and they had six children together. Adams became a political thinker and writer during the American Revolution. He wrote several important works, including “Thoughts on Government” (1776), “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88), and “An Essay on Canon and Feudal Law” (1765). He was also a delegate to the Continental Congress and helped draft the Declaration of Independence. After the war, Adams served as a diplomat in Europe and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the war. He also served as George Washington’s vice president from 1789 to 1797.

Adams’ Career

Adams graduated from Harvard University in 1755. Adams was admitted to the bar in 1758 and began to practice in Boston. Adams became a political leader in the Massachusetts legislature and served as the state’s delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses.

Adams’ early career

After Adams graduated from Harvard, he taught school for a brief time before moving on to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1758 and began practicing law in Boston. Adams soon became involved in the colony’s resistance to British rule, which was growing stronger as tensions between the colonies and the mother country continued to mount. In 1761, he wrote his first major work, “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law,” which critiqued both British imperial policy and the institution of primogeniture, whereby land was passed down to the oldest son. Two years later, Adams married Abigail Smith, with whom he would eventually have six children.

Adams’ later career

Adams’ later career was focused on his role as a diplomat. He served as a mediator between England and France during the American Revolution, and later was sent by the Continental Congress to France to secure an alliance. He was successful in this endeavor, and returned to the United States in 1778.

In 1779, Adams became a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, which was tasked with drafting a state constitution. He then served as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1780 to 1783. In 1783, he was chosen to be a commissioner to negotiate peace with Great Britain, along with Benjamin Franklin and John Jay. The resulting treaty, known as the Treaty of Paris, was signed in 1783 and ended the Revolutionary War.

Adams then returned to private life in Massachusetts, but continued to be active in politics. In 1787, he attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia as a delegate from Massachusetts. He played a key role in the debates over ratification of the Constitution, writing many of the essays that were published in support of it. He also served on the committee that drafted the Bill of Rights.

From 1789 to 1797, Adams served as the first Vice President of the United States under George Washington. He ran for President against Thomas Jefferson in 1796, but lost narrowly. He retired from public life after finishing his term as Vice President, but continued to write and speak out on political issues until his death in 1826.

Adams’ Death

Adams died on the evening of July 4, 1826, at his home in Quincy, Massachusetts, a few hours after Jefferson’s death. His last words were reportedly, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” He was buried in the Adams family plot at United First Parish Church (also known as Church of the Presidents) in Quincy.

Adams’ death and legacy

Adams’ Death and Legacy
On July 4, 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. Adams’ last words were allegedly “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” In fact, Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.

Adams’ death was overshadowed by that of Jefferson. The press eulogized Adams as a great man who had served his country well, but he was not as celebrated as Jefferson. His tendency to be quarrelsome and his lack of charisma made him unpopular with many Americans.

Adams has been criticized for his role in the deportation of aliens during the Alien and Sedition Acts crisis, but he is also praised for his defense of civil liberties. He is remembered as one of the most important figures in the early history of the United States.

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