John Adams
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Quincy, Massachusetts
Summer 2003 1st Visited

The United First Parish Church
holds the remains of Presidents
John and John Quincy Adams,
in addition to First Ladies Abigail
and Louisa Adams. Designed by
architect Alexander Parris, the
majority of the building's granite
was extracted from John Adams'
quarry, with the exception of
the front entrance's four Doric

The style of flag that rests upon John Adams'
granite sarcophagus is accurate to the time
of his presidency. It is comprised of fifteen
stars and fifteen red and white stripes.

The four Adamses are interred within the
church's basement crypt. John and Abigail's
bodies were transferred from Hancock
Cemetery on April 1, 1828, prior to the
church's completion. John Quincy and
Louisa were initially entombed in Hancock
Cemetery as well, but were relocated on
December 10, 1852. There have been no
other interments at the church.

My first trip to the Adams crypt occurred in

2003, albeit without a camera. I returned on
May 9, 2004 for photographic proof of my
visit, which can be seen in the picture above.
The other images on this page were taken
on a subsequent venture in 2010.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Abigail Smith Adams
- Spouse: Abigail Smith Adams (m. 1764-1818)

- Political Party: Federalist Party

- Term: 1797-1801
- Vice President: Thomas Jefferson

- Born: October 30, 1735

- Died: July 4, 1826

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Heart Failure and Pneumonia

- Last Words: "Thomas Jefferson still survives."

Cemetery: United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts
- GPS Coordinates: 42°15'04.1"N 71°00'10.5"W

* * * Background on John Adams * * *

* John Adams was an active participant in many political debates in the 1760s and 1770s, yet he did not let his personal feelings sway which court cases he undertook as an attorney. Though he was opposed to the practice of slavery, in four instances he represented slave masters in legal battles with African Americans who pursued their freedom. He wrote A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, which in part rebuked the Stamp Act imposed upon the colonies by British Parliament; yet he represented a prospective stamp tax collector whose house was burned by angry neighbors. Adams believed that all British subjects had the right to legal representation and a fair trial, no matter their allegiance. Notably, he defended British soldiers charged with firing into a Boston crowd and murdering five colonists in 1770. Adams successfully convinced the jury that the mob had verbally and physically provoked the troops. Captain Thomas Preston was found not guilty, as were six of the eight soldiers who stood trial. The two others were convicted of lesser manslaughter charges and branded on their thumbs. The press was critical of the outcome of the “Boston Massacre” trials, but Adams’ actions earned him respect. Soon after, he was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature, which appointed him as a member of the First Continental Congress in 1774.

* One of the most consequential actions of John Adams’ public service career occurred in 1775, when the Continental Congress reconvened in its second configuration in Philadelphia. In the wake of the fighting between colonists and British forces at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, the delegates voted to have the separate militia units coalesce into one Continental Army. As for who was to lead the troops, several men were considered, including president of the Congress, John Hancock. Even though some delegates believed the Massachusetts troops would resent being led by someone from another colony, John Adams rose to nominate a Virginian of “independent fortune, great talents, and excellent… character,” that being Colonel George Washington. Washington, also a delegate, was embarrassed to have such praise heaped upon him and left the room. Nevertheless, after some debate, the veteran of the French and Indian War was unanimously appointed commander-in-chief. He proceeded to become one of the most vital figures in attaining independence from Great Britain and later served as first president of the United States. Adams, whose nomination facilitated the possibility of such a meteoric rise, served as Washington's vice president during his two terms from 1789 to 1797.

* In the 1790s the French Revolution and its accompanying military conflicts were underway, and U.S. political parties were divided on whether or not to support its ally. Democratic-Republicans wanted to aid France, while Federalists who led the Executive and Legislative Branches supported neutrality. Upset that the U.S. did not help and continued to trade with its enemy, Great Britain, France engaged the fledgling country in skirmishes at sea that became known as the Quasi-War. President John Adams and Federalists were constantly criticized for their actions in Republican newspapers. Adams felt this was detrimental to national security and signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, a set of laws passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress in 1798. These acts heightened requirements to become a citizen, authorized the president to deport any immigrant he felt was detrimental to the U.S. if the country was at war or under the threat of war, and made it a crime to “write, print, utter or publish [...] any false, scandalous and malicious writing” against the government. Democratic-Republicans, led by Vice President Thomas Jefferson, decried these measures as steps to infringe upon freedom of speech and of the press. The Federalists countered that sedition was not a guaranteed right. Adams was a longtime supporter of freedom of the press; he incorporated it into his draft of the Massachusetts Constitution in 1779. He saw no contradiction in his support for the Sedition Act, as he felt falsehoods and the corruption of newspapers would be the true infringement upon the First Amendment. Nevertheless, the Republicans introduced petitions in protest across the nation. When true war was never declared against the French, what public support existed waned and the blowback contributed toward Adams’ defeat in his 1800 re-election bid.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

The Adams Papers, Legal Papers of John Adams 2. Ed. L. Kinvin Wroth and Hiller B. Zobel. New York: Atheneum, 1968.

Diary and Autobiography of John Adams 1. Ed. L. H. Butterfield, Leonard C. Faber and Wendell D. Garrett. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1961.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

McCullough, David. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

The Presidents. "Washington to Monroe (1789-1825)." History Channel, 2005.

Smith, Page. John Adams II. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962.

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