Adams National Historical Park

Location: Quincy, Massachusetts

Webpage: National Park

General Description: One of the United States’ Founding Father and second President of the US, John Adams, and his son John Quincy Adams, the sixth President, were both born on a small farm 7 miles south of Boston, within 75 feet of each other.  John Adams was born in 1735, the oldest son of Deacon John Adams, and wanted to be nothing more than a farmer.  However, as the eldest son, Deacon John, had other plans sending young John (age 16) to Harvard from where he graduated in 1755.  In 1758 he passed the Bar and became a lawyer.  When John Adams married Abigail Smith in 1764, they moved into a new home just 75 feet from the family home, where John Quincy Adams, along with Abigail, Louisa, Charles and Thomas were born. His outspoken objection to the Stamp Act in the Braintree Instructions in 1765, on the grounds that it was “taxation without representation” set the stage for his political career.  In 1770, a street confrontation led to British soldiers killed five citizens who were arrested on criminal charges.  John Adams choose to successfully represent them in court to demonstrate that the colonies were ruled by law and not passion.  John Adams was selected to represent Massachusetts at the First and Second Continental Congress and served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  Congress twice sent John Adams to France during the Revolutionary War and both times he took his son, John Quincy Adams.  In 1778 his mission was to garner France’s support in the war and he returned in 1779 to negotiate a treaty of peace with England.  John Quincy Adams worked alongside his father as his interpreter, as he was fluent in French by the age of 10.  Following the Revolutionary War, John Adams was appointed the first American ambassador to Great Britain in 1785.  While in England he purchased a “very Genteel Dwelling House” on 75 acres just over a mile from the farmhouse, sight unseen, which he named Peace field.  When they returned to America in 1788, he was disappointed in the house which he had thought was much larger.  Over the years they more than doubled the size of the home.  In time, Peace field was changed from a working farm to a country estate as farming gave way to horticulture as John Adams continued to pursue his political career being elected Vice President under President George Washington, since he received the second highest number of votes in the House of Representatives, and as the second President in 1796.  He served only a single term primarily due to his position to keep America out of the ongoing war between Britain and France.  Peace field was also the home of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the US.  Following his experiences traveling with his father in Europe, began his career as the first Minister to the Netherlands in 1793 at the age of 26 and as the Minister of Prussia in 1797 during his father’s administration, the first Minister to Russia in 1809 during the administration of President James Madison, and finally the Minister to Great Britain in 1815.  From 1817-1825 he served as Secretary of State under President James Monroe when he negotiated the Adams-Onis Treaty that acquired Florida for the US.  In 1824 he was elected President by the House of Representatives since none of the candidates won a majority of the electoral votes.  Like his father, he served only a single term, losing in 1828 to Andrew Jackson.  The house at Peace field was the home of three more generations of Adams, including Charles Francis Adams who served as the US Minister at London in 1861 and Henry Brooks Adams, a noted historian who published History of the United States During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson and The Education of Henry Adams, a autobiographic work that won the Pulitzer Prize.  Charles Francis made substantial changed to the family home including the construction of a fireproof library next to the home to hold the books and papers of his father and grandfather.  By 1927 Brooks Adams, the last family member to live in the house, had set the stage for the Adams Memorial Society, made up of direct descendants of John Adams, to manage the property which was given to the National Park Service in 1946.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) The Visitor Center for the Adams National Park is a small office in downtown Quincy across from a public parking garage.  There is a very good film about the Adams family that does an excellent job of giving a brief history of this illustrious family.

2) The NPS operates free transit to both the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and to Peace field about a mile away.  This bus is a nice way to visit all of the sites without dealing with parking and traffic.

3) The birthplace of John Adams is a simple two structure home that has an interesting kitchen that was added on to the original home.  This kitchen is about twice the size of most kitchens of the time period as this was also the location where Deacon Jones would hold meetings and entertain important guests.

TourGuide

4) About 75 yards away is the home that John Adams moved into when he married Abigail and is also the birthplace of John Quincy Adams and their other children.  This is also a simple home which the NPS had furnished with period pieces down to the desk that John Adams would have used in his law practice.

JohnQuincyAdamsBirthplace

5) The NPS has done an excellent job maintaining the home at Peace field.  The grounds are beautifully done with a nice flower garden and orchard.

Gardens

6) The library built by Charles Francis Adams is an impressive structure.  When you walk in you can immediately tell that is is built like a stone vault.  It has done an excellent job in preserving the books of John and John Quincy Adams.  You look around the room and see many books in foreign languages as John Quincy was fluent in a number of languages.  Our guide told us about the Mendi Bible which was a gift from the freed Mendi captives in 1781.  These slaves from Africa had mutinied on the schooner La Amistad, capturing it and attempting to land on the US.  John Quincy Adams agreed to represent them before the US Supreme Court and won their freedom and transportation back to Africa.

Library

7) The Adams home is an interesting structure showing the changes that were made over the years.  The original parlor is a very small room, forcing the Adams to entertain their very important guests in the dining room.  Therefore, they added a wing with a much larger parlor and upstair bedrooms.  The last addition was a hallway at the back of the second floor since the only access from the master bedroom to the study was through the guest bedroom, which was a problem for Charles Francis who routinely arose before daybreak to go to work in the study.

PieceField1

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