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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

OF

JOHN A D A M S.

John Adams, the second president of the United States, was born on the 19th of October (old style), 1735, in that part of the town of Braintree, in Massachusetts (near Boston) which has since been incorporated by the name of Quincy. He was the fourth in descent from Henry Adams, who fled from persecution in Devonshire, England, and settled in Massachusetts, about the year 1630. Another of the ancestors of Mr. Adams was John Alden, one of the pilgrim founders of the Plymouth colony in 1620. Receiving his early education in his native town, John Adams, in 1751, was admitted a member of Harvard college, at Cambridge, where he graduated in regular course, four years afterward. On leaving college he went to Worcester, for the purpose of studying law, and at the same time to support himself, according to the usage at that time in New England, by teaching in the grammar-school of that town. He studied law with James Putnam, a barrister of eminence, by whom he was afterward introduced to the acquaintance of Jeremy Gridley, then attorney-general of the province, who proposed him to the court for admission to the bar of Suffolk county, in 1758, and gave him access to his library, which was then one of the best in America.

Mr. Adams commenced the practice of his profession in his native town, and, by travelling the circuits with the court, became well known in that part of the country. In 1766, by the advice of Mr. Gridley, he removed to Boston, where he soon distinguished himself at the bar, by his superior talents as counsel and advocate. At an earlier period of his life, his thoughts had begun to turn on general politics, and the prospects of his country engaged his attention. Soon after leaving college, he wrote a letter to a friend, dated at Worcester, the 12th of October, 1755, which evinces so remarkable a foresight that it is fortunate it has been preserved. We make the following extracts : “Soon after the reformation, a few people came over into this new world, for conscience' sake.

The only

Perhaps this apparently trivial incident may transfer the great seat of em pire into America. It looks likely to me, if we can remove the turbulent Gallics, our people, according to the exactest computation, will, in another century, become more numerous than England herself. way to keep us from setting up for ourselves, is to disunite us. Divide et impera. Keep us in distinct colonies, and then some great men in each colony, desiring the monarchy of the whole, will destroy each other's influence, and keep the country in equilibrio. Be not surprised that I am turned politician ; the whole town is immersed in politics. I sit and hear, and, after being led through a maze of sage observations, I sometimes retire and, by laying things together, form some reflections pleasing to myself. The produce of one of these reveries you have read above." Mr. Webster observes: “It is remarkable that the author of this prognostication should live to see fulfilled to the letter what could have seemed to others, at the time, but the extravagance of youthful fancy. His earliest political feelings were thus strongly American, and from this ardent attachment to his native soil he never departed.”

In 1764, he married Abigail Smith, daughter of Rev. William Smith, of Weymouth, and grand-daughter of Colonel Quincy, a lady of uncommon endowments and excellent education. He had previously imbibed a prejudice against the prevailing religious opinions of New England, and became attached to speculations hostile to those opinions. Nor were his views afterward changed. In his religious sentiments he accorded with Doctor Bancroft, a unitarian minister of Worcester, of whose printed sermons he expressed his high approbation. In 1765, Mr. Adams published an essay on canon and feudal law, the object of which was to show the conspiracy between church and state for the purpose of oppressing the people.

In 1770, he was chosen a representative, from the town of Boston, in the legislature of Massachusetts. The same year he was one of the counsel who defended Captain Preston, and the British soldiers who fired at his order, upon the inhabitants of Boston. Captain Preston was acquitted, and Mr. Adams lost no favor with his fellow-citizens by engaging in this trial. As a member of the legislature, he opposed the royal governor, Hutchinson, in his measures, and also wrote against the British government in the newspapers. In 1774, he was elected a member of the Massachusetts council, and negatived by Governor Gage.' In this and the next year, he wrote on the whig side the numbers called “ Nov Anglus,” in reply to essays, signed “Massachusitensis," in favor of the British government, by Sewall, the attorney-general. The same year he was appointed a member of the continental congress, from Massachusetts, and in that body, which met at Philadelphia, he became one of the most efficient and able advocates of liberty. In the Congress which met in May, 1775, he again took his seat, having been reappointed as a delegate. In 1775

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