Charles Adams (1770–1800)

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Charles Adams
Charles Adams.jpg
BornMay 29, 1770
DiedNovember 30, 1800(1800-11-30) (aged 30)
Spouse(s)Sarah "Sally" Smith
Parent(s)John Adams
Abigail Smith
FamilyAdams, Braintree

Charles Adams (May 29, 1770 – November 30, 1800) was the second son of President John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams (née Smith).


At the age of nine, he traveled with his father and older brother John Quincy to Europe, studying briefly in Passy, Amsterdam, and Leiden. He matriculated in Leiden on January 29, 1781.[2][3]

In December 1781, Charles returned to America unaccompanied by family members. After graduating from Harvard College in 1789, he moved to New York City, where plans had been made for him to work in the legal office of Alexander Hamilton. Shortly after, however, Hamilton was named Secretary of the Treasury and Adams moved to the law office of John Laurance to continue his studies.[4] Adams passed the bar examination in 1792.[5]

On August 29, 1795, Adams married Sarah "Sally" Smith (1769–1828), the sister of his brother-in-law, William Stephens Smith. They had two daughters, Susanna Boylston (1796–1884) and Abigail Louisa Smith (1798–1836). Abigail married the banker and philosopher Alexander Bryan Johnson; their son Alexander Smith Johnson would become a judge. At the age of 37, Abigail Louisa died of uterine cancer.[6]

Adams was an alcoholic who engaged in extramarital relationships and made questionable financial decisions. He was disowned by his father and sometimes lived apart from his family.[7]


He died in New York City of cirrhosis of the liver on November 30, 1800.[8] He was the first Presidential child to die while his/her father was in office.

Depictions in popular culture

In 2008, HBO presented the miniseries entitled John Adams based on the book by David McCullough. This biographical presentation depicts President John Adams as a neglectful father to Charles Adams, and suggests that the elder Adams's failures as a father negatively influenced Charles's development. Historians, however, have pointed out the inaccuracies of the series' representation of their relationship.[9]


  1. ^ "The Adams Children". American Experience. PBS. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  2. ^ Album Studiosorum Academiae Lugduno Batavae MDLXXV-MDCCCLXXV, kol. 1136.
  3. ^ Index to English speaking students who have graduated at Leyden university / by Edward Peacock, F.S.A. - London : For the Index society, by Longmans, Green & co. 1883, p. 2, 1136.
  4. ^ Kaplan, Fred (2014). John Quincy Adams: American Visionary. New York: HarperCollins. p. 100. ISBN 9780061915413.
  5. ^
  6. ^ genealogy.cfm#charles The Massachusetts Historical Society
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Lives of the First Ladies".
  9. ^ Jeremy Stern (October 27, 2008). "What's Wrong with HBO's Dramatization of John Adams's Story". History News Network. Retrieved March 18, 2011.

External links



  1. ^ 1. Friedrich, Kapp (1859). The life of Frederick William von Steuben;. Mason. Retrieved 1 January 2018. 2. O'Brien, Michael J. (1937). Hercules Mulligan: Confidential Correspondent of General Washington. pp. 153–156. 3. Butterfield, Lyman Henry; Hogan, Margaret A. (1963). Adams Family Correspondence. Harvard University Press. 4. Steuben and John W. Mulligan, Jr". bobarnebeck. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
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