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John Adams: The Second President of the United States

John Adams was the second president, but he served as vice president under the first.

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John Adams was the first vice president and the second president of the United States. He lived a very long life and enjoyed a close friendship with Thomas Jefferson, the third president.

Early Years

Adams was born on Oct. 30, 1735 in Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1755, he graduated from Harvard College. His father wanted him to be a minister, but he studied law instead. In 1764, he married a minister’s daughter, Abigail Smith.

John and Abigail had five children: three boys and two girls. One of the boys, John Quincy Adams, would follow in his father’s footsteps and become president.

In 1774, Adams became a representative of the First Continental Congress, and he and his cousin, Samuel Adams, argued for leaving England’s rule. After the Second Continental Congress the following year, Adams nominated George Washington to serve as commander of the Continental Army and he chose Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence.

President John Adams

From left, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson

During the first presidential election, Adams came in second to George Washington and was elected Washington’s vice president. After Washington’s term, Adams ran again and barely won over his good friend Jefferson, getting 71 of the electoral votes to Jefferson’s 68. Jefferson became vice president and, unfortunately, the two friends had different political views that ruined their friendship.

In the presidential election of 1800, Adams lost to Jefferson and the second president immediately went home, where he planned to retire and write. As time went on, Adams missed his friendship with Jefferson, so he sent a letter to his old friend. “You and I ought not to die, before We have explained ourselves to each other,” he wrote.

At the age of 91, Adams died on July 4, 1826. His last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” however, Jefferson had passed away just a few hours earlier.


Kelli Ballard

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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