John Adams (1735–1826) served as a leader in the American Revolution and as the nation’s second president. Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, Adams attended Harvard College and began practicing law. In 1764, he married Abigail Smith, beginning a long and successful marriage and intellectual relationship. In the 1760s, Adams became a leader in the American resistance against parliamentary acts and British rule. From 1774 to 1777, Adams served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses and nominated George Washington as commander in chief of the colonial armies, assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence, and helped push through support for independence. Between 1778 and 1788, Adams spent much of his time abroad. He negotiated loans and support for the war and then the Treaty of Paris to end the war. He later served as an ambassador to Great Britain.

In 1789, Adams was elected the first vice president of the United States under George Washington. In 1796 he was elected to the presidency over Thomas Jefferson. During his time in office, Adams involved the United States in the Quasi War, an undeclared naval conflict with France. Adams alienated his fellow Federalists by not declaring war on France. In 1800 he lost the presidential election to Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson. Adams retired to private life after leaving office. He died just hours after Thomas Jefferson, on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

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