Charles Francis Adams, Sr (Charles Francis Adams)

Charles Francis Adams, Sr

US Congressman, US Diplomat.  The son of 6th United States President John Quincy Adams and grandson of 2nd United States President John Adams, he spent much of his early life traveling with his parents in Europe.  He returned in his adolescence to attend school in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating from Harvard University in 1825. He was chosen by Daniel Webster as a law student and while learning his trade wrote articles for the “North American Review.”  After a few years in law he turned his hand to politics serving in both the Massachusetts House and Senate.  In 1848, he made a run for the Vice Presidency on the Free Soil Party ticket. After losing this election he turned his hand to writing, publishing works of social commentary and as well as works about his grandfather. He eventually made it to Washington, DC ten years later, being elected as a Republican to represent Massachusetts’ 3rd District in the United States House of Representative in 1859. A month after the Civil War started, in May 1861 he was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln  to the crucial position of United States Ambassador to England, a position previously held by his grandfather.  Charles F. Adams proved to be an excellent choice for this position; his skills helped keep the British from backing the Confederacy during the Civil War thus helping to ensure a Union victory.  He remained in England as the ambassador until 1868, and later returned to England in 1871 as a part of a special envoy that successfully negotiated American Civil War damage claims against England (the so-called “Alabama Claims”, named for the Confederate commerce raider “CSS Alabama”).  Adams changed political parties several times during his career and at one point considered a run for the Presidency under a new political party called the Liberal Republicans.  After what he later conceded was a half hearted attempt to gain their nomination in 1872, he lost out to Horace Greeley.  Offers were made again to him in 1876 by another party, but he turned these down without consideration.  He also turned down a nomination for the Massachusetts Governorship. He retired to Boston to take up his career again as a writer focusing on the papers of his father.  He also served as the chair of the Board of Overseers for Harvard University.  Adams’ personal life, was, by his report, rewarding.  While the Adamses were famous and respected, they did not necessarily have wealth.  With his marriage to shipping heiress Abigail Brooks, Adams brought this into the family. He was able to use wealth obtained through her to remodel the family home and establish the first Presidential Library on behalf of his father and grandfather.  He and Abigail had six children. Among them historian Brooks Adams, writer  Henry Adams,  and Civil War General and railroad executive  Charles Francis, Jr. (bio by: Catharine)  Family links:  Parents:  John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848)  Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams (1775 – 1852)  Spouse:  Abigail Brown Brooks Adams (1808 – 1889)*  Children:  John Quincy Adams (1833 – 1894)*  Charles Francis Adams (1835 – 1915)*  Henry Brooks Adams (1838 – 1918)*  Mary Gardner Adams Quincy (1845 – 1921)*  Brooks Adams (1848 – 1927)*  Siblings:  George Washington Adams (1801 – 1829)*  John Adams (1803 – 1834)*  Charles Francis Adams (1807 – 1886)  Louisa Catherine Adams (1811 – 1812)* *Calculated relationship


  • August, 18, 1807
  • USA


  • November, 11, 1886
  • USA


  • Mount Wollaston Cemetery
  • Massachusetts
  • USA

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