Where the world comes to study the Bible

Children of President John Adams

Even that first famous Adams generation (children of 2nd president John Adams, 1735-1826) had more than its share of black sheep.

John and Abigail’s eldest child, Abigail, married a wastrel and at her death left her children to their care.

Son Charles married the sister of his spendthrift brother-in-law, dissipated family funds, died of alcoholism and left his widow to the care of his parents.

Son Thomas Boylston also became an alcoholic, again bequeathing his children to the care of the family.

Though John Quincy (1767-1848) turned out well, he and his unhappy wife Louisa hardly went unscathed. Their first son was an alcoholic and committed suicide at the age of 31. Their next son was expelled from college, failed in business and died of an alcohol-related illness. Only their youngest son, Charles Francis (1807-86), reacted against the family pattern by his exemplary sobriety, his prudence in business and fervent dedication to his wife and children. He spent years writing the biography and editing the words of his grandfather John Adams. But he concluded, “The history of my family is not a pleasant one to remember. It is one of great triumphs in the world but of deep groans within, one of extraordinary brilliancy and deep corroding mortification.”

Charles Francis Adams, grandson of 2nd President John Adams, son of 6th president John Quincy Adams, in U.S. News and World Report, Dec. 12, 1988