John Quincy Adams II

John Quincy Adams II (September 22, 1833 – August 14, 1894) was an American lawyer, politician, and member of the Adams political family.

Early life

Adams was the son of Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886) and Abigail Brown Brooks (1808–1889). His siblings were Louisa Catherine Adams (1831–1870), Charles Francis Adams Jr. (1835–1915), Henry Brooks Adams (1838–1918), Arthur Adams (1841–1846), Mary Gardiner Adams (1845–1928), and Peter Chardon Brooks Adams (1848–1927).

He was the paternal grandson of the 6th United States president, John Quincy Adams (his namesake), and the great-grandson of the 2nd president, John Adams. His maternal grandfather was shipping magnate Peter Chardon Brooks (1767–1849).

He graduated from Harvard University in 1853, studied law, attained admission to the bar, and practiced in Boston. He later established an experimental model farm near Quincy, Massachusetts.


During the Civil War he served on the staff of Governor John Albion Andrew with the rank of colonel.

Adams served in several local offices in Quincy, including town meeting moderator, school board chairman and judge of the local court. He was elected to the Massachusetts state legislature as a Republican, but soon switched to the Democratic Party because of his dissatisfaction with Republican Reconstruction policies. In addition to serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1865, 1867, 1870 and 1873, he was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts in every year from 1867 to 1871. (Governors served one year terms until 1918.)

Adams received one vote for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States at the 1868 Democratic National Convention. In 1872, the faction of Democrats that refused to support Horace Greeley, the fusion candidate of Democrats and the Liberal Republican Party, nominated Charles O’Conor for president and Adams for vice president on the “Straight-Out Democratic” ticket. They declined, but their names remained on the ballot in some states.

Illustration accompanying Adams’s biography in 1913’s Lamb’s Biographical Dictionary of the United States, Volume 1

In 1873, he was the unsuccessful nominee for lieutenant governor. After losing an election for lieutenant governor in 1876, Adams refused most further involvement in politics, though he was considered by Grover Cleveland for a cabinet position in 1893. In 1877, he was made a member of the Harvard Corporation.

Personal life

In 1861, Adams married Frances “Fanny” Cadwalader Crowninshield (1839–1911), daughter of George Crowninshield (1812–1857) and Harriet Sears Crowninshield (1809–1873) of the politically powerful Crowninshield family. Fanny was the granddaughter of former United States Secretary of the Navy under presidents Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Williams Crowninshield.

  • John Quincy Adams Jr. (1862–1876), who died young.
  • George Caspar Adams (1863–1900), who was the head coach of the Harvard University football program.
  • Charles Francis Adams III (1866–1954), who served as Secretary of the Navy, and who married Frances Lovering.
  • Frances “Fanny” C. Adams (1873–1876), who died in childhood.
  • Arthur Charles Adams (1877–1943), who served as vice president of the Adams Trust Company, the Colony Trust and the New England Trust Company.
  • Abigail “Hitty” Adams (1879–1974), who married Robert Homans in 1907.

Adams died at age 60 in Wollaston, Massachusetts on August 14, 1894. He was buried at Mount Wollaston Cemetery in Quincy. His widow died in 1911, and left an estate worth $1,200,000 to their three surviving children.


Through his daughter, Abigail, he was the grandfather of George Casper Homans (1910–1989), a sociologist and the founder of behavioral sociology and the Social Exchange Theory.

Family tree

  • “Adams, John Quincy, 2d” . New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Theodore H. Sweetser
Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts
1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871
Succeeded by
Francis W. Bird

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