John Adams Lesson for Kids: Facts & Biography

Instructor: Crystal Ladwig
What famous person from American history helped write the Declaration of Independence, served as President and Vice-President of the U.S., and defended British soldiers in court? John Adams, of course. Read on to find out more about our second president.

Early Years

John Adams was born on October 30, 1735, in Massachusetts. His father, a minister, hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. But young John had other plans. He entered Harvard University and became a lawyer.

Even at a young age, Adams had revolutionary ideas. He stood up for his beliefs, openly criticizing the British for unfair taxation. As a lawyer, Adams also defended British soldiers following the Boston Massacre, believing that everyone deserves a fair trial. While Adams initially faced ridicule for defending the soldiers, this act was later viewed as illustrating his generosity and fairness.

John Adams: Second President of the United States
John Adams

At 25, John Adams married his wife, Abigail. Their home remained in Massachusetts throughout Adams's life; although his work forced him to travel for years at a time. He and Abigail had six children. One of his sons, John Quincy Adams, became our sixth President.

Political Life

John Adams served our country in a variety of roles. He was a delegate (colonial representative) from Massachusetts at both the First and Second Continental Congress, where early patriots first led the charge for proper treatment of the colonies by Britain and later for independence. Adams nominated (suggested) George Washington serve as Commander of the Continental Army at the Convention. Adams also worked closely with other famous patriots. He is credited with helping to write the Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman.

During and after the Revolutionary War, John Adams continued to serve the American people. Having to be away from home for nearly ten years, Adams was a representative of the United States in France, Holland, and even England. He was also one of the American diplomats (representatives) sent to negotiate the Treaty of Paris, which was signed in 1783 and officially ended the American Revolution.

Upon his return home, John Adams served as the first vice-president under George Washington, a role he thought rather unimportant since he had little influence on the country. In 1796, Adams was elected the second President of the United States. He and his wife soon moved into the White House, the first President to do so.

John Adams was the first president to live in the White House.
White House 1846

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