John Adams Genealogy


Michael Benton, Contributor

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john adams genealogyIn 1735, future president John Adams, Jr., was born into a family with a rich history in the colony of Massachusetts. John Adams' genealogy demonstrates his family's central role in the development of early America, including the family tree that sprouts from his roots. His great-great-grandfather on the paternal line, Henry Adams, emigrated from England as a Puritan pilgrim in 1638, settling in a part of Braintree that is now Quincy, Massachusetts. Henry married a woman named Edith Squire with whom he had a number of children including a son named Joseph who in turn had a son named Joseph, President John Adams' grandfather. The younger Joseph Adams' third wife was Hannah Bass Adams and together they gave birth to John Adams, Sr., the father of the future U.S. president. Through the Bass family line, the Adams family was now connected directly to Mayflower pilgrims. On his mother's side, John's great-grandfather, Thomas Boylston, had come to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1635, settling in Brookline.

John's father, John Adams, Sr., was a farmer and a shoemaker as well as a deacon of the church and a selectman (town councilman). Although the Adams, Sr. wished that Adams, Jr. would follow in his footsteps by joining the clergy, the young John Adams found that law was a more suitable profession for a man who wished to take action. John and his wife Abigail would become the progenitors of a long line of politicians, including their son John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States and a successful Secretary of State before that. Another interesting fact of John Adams genealogy is that Samuel Adams, the rabble rousing Boston revolutionary, was actually his second cousin; they were both great-grandsons of the older Joseph Adams, son of Henry Adams, the original Adams in America.

As a Puritan with deep roots in Massachusetts, John Adams often drew on the political inclinations of early pilgrims, especially their zeal for liberty from the prosecution of the British Crown. The genealogy of John Adams was integral to his understanding of America as a place for refuge from royal oppression. In his time, the stricter practices of Puritan life had softened and John drew on the more liberal aspects of Puritan thought; his familial roots are what gave him the direction that led to confrontation with British oppression. John Adams' genealogy became extremely important to his political descendants, too, who utilized the concept of their family as essentially American since the earliest days of splitting from England. Charles Francis Adams, the grandson of John Adams, understood that his political legacy depended on the Adams genealogy. He published a biography of his famous forebear as well as a large number of personal letters written between John and Abigail Adams as if to remind the public how important his genealogy was to the nation. As the first Vice President and the second President of the United States, there is no doubt that John Adams was a central figure in the birth of America.