Chronological events in the life of John Adams.



October 19: John Adams is born in the city of Braintree, Massachusetts. His parents were John Adams and Susana Boylston. He was the oldest of two brothers, Peter and Elihu.


Started school at Dalme Belche’s house where he studied arithmetic, reading and religion.


Attended Braintree’s Latin School headed by Joseph Cleverly where he was to be prepared for his entrance exams to Harvard.


John’s father hired Joseph Marsh who had a great influence on John Adams. He prepared him for his admission exams to Harvard.


Adams was admitted to Harvard College at age fifteen, almost sixteen.


June: John graduated from Harvard.  Impressed by John’s commencement speech, Reverent Thaddeus Mccarty, who directed the Central School of Worcester, hired John as a teacher.

November 18:  First entry in his diary which he keeps updating until the end of his life.


James Putnam took John as an apprentice; he was to study law under his supervision.


At age 23 he concluded his studies with Putnam. He moved to Braintree and was admitted to the bar of Suffolk County.


Summer: John Adams and Abigail Smith meet for the first time.


January:  Adams and his friend Samuel Quincy observed the first confrontation between the American colonies and the British Crown when a customs official applied for writs of assistance. It was an eye opener for him as an understanding of the relationship with the motherland.

May 25: John’s father dies of influenza.


October 25: John married Abigail Smith after two years of courtship.


March:  The Stamp Act is approved by Parliament.

July 14: The couple’s first child, daughter Abigail Amelia, is born.

August: John Adams publishes anonymously an assay in the Boston Gazette entitled “A Dissertation on Cannon and Feudal Law”

August: Stamp Act Crisis

October: The Braintree Instructions written by Adams is adopted by forty towns in Massachusetts, the document affirms the unconstitutionality of taxation without representation.


March 18: The Stamp Act is repealed.  Parliament approves the Declaratory Act under which it asserts its right to make laws for the colonies.  Adams has doubts about the political future of the colony.


June: Townshend Acts

July 11: The couple’s first son, John Quincy is born.


January: The family moves to Boston, they settle in a white house on Brattle Street.

October: Four thousand soldiers were sent to Boston to keep civil order.

December 28: Second daughter, Susana, is born.


Business was booming. Adams defended John Hancock in a smuggling case of Madeira wine and three sailors accused of murdering a navy officer.


February 4: Daughter Susana dies at 13 months of age.

March 5: Boston Massacre

May 29: Second son, Charles, is born.

June: Elected to the Massachusetts legislature.

October: Boston Massacre trials. Adams defends Thomas Preston, he and the six of the eight soldiers were acquitted.


For health reasons the Adams family returns to Braintree.


September 15:  Third son, Thomas Boylston, is born.


December 16:  Boston Tea Party


May: Intolerable Acts

September-October: Delegate to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia.


April 19: Battle of Lexington and Concord.

May: Delegate to Second the Second Continental Congress

June: Adams nominates George Washington as commander of the Continental Army.

June: Bunker Hill

October: Abigail’s mother and John’s brother, Elihu, died of dysentery.


April:  Thoughts on Government was written by John Adams in response to a resolution of the North Carolina Provincial Congress. He designs the three branches of American government: the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, all with a system of checks and balances.

June: Adams was selected as president of the Congress Board of War. He writes the Plan of Treaties for an alliance with European nations.

July: Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for calling for independence from England is formally adopted.

July 4: Adams signs the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence is adopted by congress. It announced that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire.

September: British troops occupy New York.


January: John attends the Second Continental Congress as a delegate from Massachusetts.

June: Flag Resolution.

July: Abigail gives birth to stillborn daughter, Elizabeth.

November 15: The Articles of Confederation is adopted.

Adams is elected commissioner to France.


February: France recognizes the United States as an independent nation setting a military alliance and a commercial treaty.

February-April: Adams sails to France for diplomatic assignment. He is accompanied by 10-year old John Quincy.


October: Adams returns to Boston and drafts the Massachusetts Constitution which will serve as the model for the US constitution.

November: Adams, along with John Quincy and Charles, travels to Europe to negotiate the peace treaty with England.


May:  John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other leaders founded the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to provide a forum for a select group of scholars, members of the learned professions, and government and business leaders to work together on behalf of the democratic interests of the republic.

June – July: Congress appoints Adams to negotiate a loan with the Netherlands.


October 19: Major victory at Yorktown, Virginia. The British surrender and agree to negotiate peace.


April: The Netherlands recognizes American independence.

June: Adams secures a $2 million loan from Dutch bankers.


September: Adams, Franklin and Jay sign the Treaty of Paris which ends the War with Britain.


Adams serves on a commission to secure commercial treaties for the United States.

Adams negotiates a second loan with the Netherlands.

July: Abigail and Nabby reunite with John in Europe. They settle in Auteuil, near Paris.


February: Adams is appointed Minister to Great Britain.

May: His family joins him in London.


June: Adams’ oldest daughter, Nabby, marries William Smith, Adams’ secretary in London.


September: Fifty five delegates attend the Constitutional convention. The document that will become the US Constitution is approved.


March: Adams negotiates a fourth loan with the Dutch

April: The Adams family returns to Massachusetts. They settle in Braintree.

September: The Constitution is ratified and put into operation.


March: George Washington is elected president of the United States and John Adams elected Vice President.

April:  Adams moves to Richmond Hill, New York.

July: French Revolution


April: Benjamin Franklin dies.

November: Abigail travels to Philadelphia where she joins John. She returns to Massachusetts after six months.


May: Adams is appointed president of Boston’s Academy of Arts and Sciences.

December: Ratification of the Bills of Rights


April: The Adams family returns to Braintree, part of which was incorporated as Quincy.

September: The monarchy was abolished and France becomes a republic.

December: Washington was reelected for a second term as President of the United States and Adams as his Vice President.


February: Great Britain, Prussia and Austria declare war on France.

April: Proclamation of Neutrality by which the United States stays out of the European War.


July: Whisky Rebellion. Farmers who sold their grain in the form of whiskey had to pay a new tax which they strongly resented.


August 29: Charles marries Sally Smith in New York.


John Adams is elected second president of the United States.


March 4: John Adams is sworn in as the second President of the United States.

June: Adams appoints his son, John Quincy, as minister to Prussia.

July: John Quincy marries Louisa Catherine Johnson in London.


Adams creates the US Navy Department.

George Washington is the commander of the Army under Adams presidency.

March-April: XYZ Affair. The French foreign minister demands a bribe to resume diplomatic relations with the U.S.


December: George Washington dies at age 67.


Treaty of Morfontaine settled the hostilities between U.S. and France during the Quasi War.

May: The Federalist caucus nominates Adams as party nominee for the 1800 elections. The Republicans select Thomas Jefferson.

November: Adams moves to the newly finished President’s House in Washington D.C.

November 30: Son Charles Adams dies of liver cancer at age 30.

December: Adams looses the presidential election to Thomas Jefferson.


March 4: Adams returns to Quincy, Massachusetts.


October: Adams starts writing his Autobiography.


November: Jefferson is elected for a second term.

Jefferson announces the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase lands by the Lewis and Clark expedition.


May 16: Thomas Adams marries Ann Harrod.


James Madison is elected president


April: John Quincy joins the Republican party; his father’s rival.


War of 1812


August 14: Nabby dies of breast cancer at age 48.


John Quincy becomes James Monroe’s Secretary of State.


October: Abigail Adams dies of typhoid fever at age 73.


February: John Quincy Adams is elected President of the United States.


July 4: John Adam dies at age 91.