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John Adams II

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Title: John Adams II  
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Subject: John Quincy Adams II, Adams Memorial, Abigail Adams Smith, Susanna Boylston, Charles Adams (1770–1800)
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John Adams II

John Adams (July 4, 1803 – October 23, 1834) was the second son of President John Quincy Adams and Louisa Adams. He is usually called John Adams II to distinguish him from President John Adams, his famous grandfather.


John Adams II was born in Quincy, Massachusetts on July 4, 1803.[1] He studied at Harvard University, but was expelled during his senior year for participating in the 1823 student rebellion to protest the curriculum and living conditions at the university.[2] He then studied law under his father, and when John Quincy Adams became President, his son served as his private secretary.[3] (In 1873 most of the students who took part in the 1823 incident, including John Adams II, were designated "Bachelor of Arts as of 1823" and admitted to Harvard's Roll of Graduates.)[4]

At a White House reception during the John Quincy Adams presidency, President Adams publicly insulted the wife of Russell Jarvis, an anti-Adams reporter for the Washington Daily Telegraph. Since the President was considered to be immune from a challenge, Jarvis attempted to initiate a duel with John Adams II, who had been at the reception. Jarvis's effort to provoke an incident led to a highly publicized fistfight in the Capitol Rotunda, with Jarvis pulling the nose of and slapping Adams, and Adams refusing to retaliate. An investigating committee of the United States House of Representatives determined that Jarvis had initiated the attack, but took no other action.[5] Louisa Adams always believed that the negative press generated by this incident, with John Adams II being accused of cowardice by newspaper editors who supported Andrew Jackson, led to Adams' early demise.[6]

John Adams II, his older brother [7]

After his father left the White House John attempted a career in business, including operating a Washington flour mill owned by his father. His lack of success and despondency over his brother George's alcoholism and 1829 suicide led to John's own descent into alcoholism.[8] He died in Washington, D.C. on October 23, 1834 and is buried in Quincy's Hancock Cemetery.[9]

Mary Hellen Adams continued to reside with John Quincy and Louisa Adams and helped care for them in their old age.[10] She died in Bethlehem, New Hampshire on August 31, 1870.


  1. ^ Lewis L. Gould, American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy, 2001, page 48
  2. ^ Hugh Brogan, Charles Mosley, American Presidential Families, 1993, page 280
  3. ^ Lynn Hudson Parson, John Quincy Adams, 1998, pages 155 to 156
  4. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936, 1936, pages 230 to 231
  5. ^ Atlantic Monthly, Reminiscences of Washington, March, 1880, pages 288 to 291
  6. ^ Sandra L. Quinn-Musgrove Sanford Kanter, America's Royalty: All the Presidents' Children, pages 33 to 35
  7. ^ Paul C. Nagel, The Adams Women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, Their Sisters and Daughters, 1999, pages 236 to 238
  8. ^ Charles Francis Adams, Diary of Charles Francis Adams: July 1825 - September 1829, 1964, page xxvi
  9. ^ Paul C. Nagel, Descent from Glory: Four Generations of the John Adams Family, 1999, page 173
  10. ^ Doug Wead, All the Presidents' Children, 2004, pages 226 to 227
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