Adams Papers Editorial Project

The Adams Papers Editorial Project is an ongoing endeavor by scholars at Massachusetts Historical Society to organize, transcribe and publish a wide range of manuscripts, diaries, letterbooks and politically and culturally important letters authored by and received by the family of Founding Father John Adams, his wife Abigail Adams and their descendants including John Quincy Adams[1]. Over 27,000 records have been catalogued to date. Administrators of the database also track the location and content of Adams related materials at other scholarly institutions.[2] By virtue of its collaborative nature, the project simultaneously sheds light on the lives of John Adams’ fellow Founding Fathers George Washington, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.


The project was originally begun in 1954 by historian Lyman H. Butterfield and hailed by President John F. Kennedy, "This formidable record of a formidable family deserves the kind of great editorial support it is now receiving"[3]. Butterfield introduced a system of transcription, annotation and collation methods for the archive informed by his experience at The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. [4]. Since that time, more than 50 volumes have been published by Harvard University Press. The collection has been organized as a series. Series I includes transcriptions of the diaries of John Adams, John Quincy Adams and others. Series II is a compilation of personal Adams Family correspondence exchanged between 1761 and 1798. Series III includes papers and legal instruments dated 1755 through 1785. Series IV is a record of visual documentation of John and Abigail Adams, and of John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa, from paintings to engravings. Items range in date from 1639 to 1889.

The Adams Papers Digital Edition has been published online as part of UVA's searchable Rotunda project and America's Founding Era collection [5]


Primary funders of the Adams Papers currently include the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a division of the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities[6] , and the Packard Humanities Institute.

See also


  1. ^ Sara Georgini. "John Quincy Adams Kept a Diary and Didn't Skimp on the Details". Smithsonian. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  2. ^ "Members-Sara Georgini". The Junto - A Group Blog on Early American History. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Dena Kleiman. "LYMAN H. BUTTERFIELD, EDITOR OF THE ADAMS PAPERS". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Sara Georgini. "Making the Adams Papers". The Junto - A Group Blog on Early American History. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  5. ^ "The University of Virginia Press - Rotunda". University of Virginia. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  6. ^ John Fea. "National Endowment for the Humanities Announces New Grants". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved January 13, 2018.

External links

Abigail Adams Smith

Abigail "Nabby" Amelia Adams Smith (July 14, 1765 – August 15, 1813) was the daughter of Abigail and John Adams, founding father and second President of the United States, and the sister of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States. She was named for her mother.

American Primitive

American Primitive is a play by William Gibson about the lives of John and Abigail Adams. Gibson used the correspondence of John and Abigail Adams to create a verse drama about the period of the American Revolution.

American Primitive debuted, unsuccessfully, at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in 1969. The production, directed by Frank Langella, starred Anne Bancroft as Abigail Adams.

American System (economic plan)

The American System was an economic plan that played an important role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century. Rooted in the "American School" ideas of Alexander Hamilton, the plan "consisted of three mutually reinforcing parts: a tariff to protect and promote American industry; a national bank to foster commerce; and federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other 'internal improvements' to develop profitable markets for agriculture". Congressman Henry Clay was the plan's foremost proponent and the first to refer to it as the "American System".

Charles Adams (1770–1800)

Charles Adams (May 29, 1770 – November 30, 1800) was the second son of President John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams (née Smith).

Corrupt bargain

The term corrupt bargain refers to three historic incidents in American history in which political agreement was determined by congressional or presidential actions that many viewed to be corrupt from different standpoints. Two of these involved the resolution of indeterminate or disputed electoral votes from the United States presidential election process, and the third involved the disputed use of a presidential pardon. In all three cases, the president so elevated served a single term, or singular vacancy, and either did not run again, or was not reelected when he ran.

In the 1824 election, without an absolute majority in the Electoral College, the 12th Amendment dictated that the Presidential election be sent to the House of Representatives, whose Speaker and candidate in his own right, Henry Clay, gave his support to John Quincy Adams, and was then selected to be his Secretary of State. In the 1876 election, accusations of corruption stemmed from officials involved in counting the necessary and hotly contested electoral votes of both sides, in which Rutherford B. Hayes was elected by a congressional commission. The most recent incident widely described as a "corrupt bargain" was Gerald Ford's 1974 pardon of Richard Nixon, following the resignation of the disgraced former president. The critics claim that Ford's pardon was a quid pro quo for Nixon's resignation, which elevated Ford to the presidency.

Elihu Adams

Elihu Adams (May 29, 1741 – August 10, 1775) was a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was born in Braintree to John Adams, Sr. and Susanna Boylston; his elder brothers were John Adams, the second President of the United States, and Peter Boylston Adams, who also served as a militia captain during the Revolution. He married Thankful White in 1765, and had at least two children - Susanna, born in 1766, and John, born in 1768.Adams served as captain of the Braintree Company at the Siege of Boston, and as a minuteman who fought on the Concord Green in 1775. He died of dysentery on August 10, 1775, at the age of 34, and was buried at what is today known as the "Old Section" of Union Cemetery in Holbrook, Massachusetts (then still a part of Braintree).

George Washington Adams

George Washington Adams (April 12, 1801 – April 30, 1829) was the eldest son of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States. He had a troubled life and died of apparent suicide at age 28.

Inauguration of John Quincy Adams

The inauguration of John Quincy Adams as the sixth President of the United States took place on Friday, March 4, 1825, in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The inauguration marked the commencement of the four-year term of John Quincy Adams as President and the first term of John C. Calhoun as Vice President. Adams was the first president to have been the son of a former President–John Adams; and Calhoun, at age 42 on Inauguration Day, was the second-youngest vice president (after Daniel D. Tompkins, who was 3 months younger when inaugurated into office in 1817).

Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall administered the Oath of office to the new president. Adams, as he recalled later, placed his hand upon on a book of law rather than the Bible itself as he recited the oath. This may have been common practice at the time; there is no concrete evidence that any president from John Adams to John Tyler used a Bible to swear the oath upon. His inaugural address was 2,911 words long.Adams wore a black "homespun" suit with trousers instead of breeches. He was the first to make the change of dress. The weather that day was described as 'rainy' with a total rainfall of 0.79 inches (20 mm). The estimated noon temperature was 47 °F (8 °C).

John Adams Sr.

John Adams Sr. (February 8, 1691 – May 25, 1761) was a British colonial farmer and minister. He was the father of the second U.S. President, John Adams Jr., and grandfather of the sixth President, John Quincy Adams. He was the son of Joseph Adams Jr. (1654–1737), the grandson of Joseph Adams Sr. (1626-1694), and the great-grandson of Henry Adams, who emigrated from Braintree, Essex, in England to Massachusetts Bay Colony in about 1638. He was also descended from John and Priscilla Alden. Adams worked as a farmer and cobbler (also called a cord-wainer or shoemaker) for most of his life.Adams' descendants include many prominent persons in American history, and his home is a National Park, the Adams National Historical Park. Not only was he the father and grandfather of presidents; he also was a first cousin, once removed, of Samuel Adams.

John Quincy

Colonel John Quincy (July 21, 1689 – July 13, 1767) was an American soldier, politician and member of the Quincy political family. His granddaughter Abigail Adams named her son, the future President John Quincy Adams, after him. The city of Quincy, Massachusetts is named after him.

Mutiny on the Amistad

Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy (1987) is a history of a notable slave mutiny of 1839 and its aftermath, written by professor Howard Jones.

The book explores the events surrounding the slave mutiny on the Spanish schooner La Amistad in 1839. The ship was taken into United States custody off the south coast of Long Island, New York. The book discusses the roles and international dynamics of the case, involving Spain, England, and the United States as they related to the 19th-century slave trade. It examines United States v. The Amistad Africans 40 U.S. (15 Pet.) 518 (1841), the United States Supreme Court case that adjudicated the property issues and ultimately the fate of the Mende people who were held captive on Amistad and the ownership of the vessel.

Navy Department Library

The Navy Department Library is the official library of the United States Department of the Navy. Located at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., it is part of the Naval History & Heritage Command, and is a Federal Depository Library. Its 150,000 volumes are the most highly concentrated and accessible collection of literature on the United States Navy. The library traces its roots to a nineteenth-century letter from U.S. President John Adams; its catalog is online.The library's mission is to promote the operational effectiveness of the U.S. Navy through the support of strategic planning, the education of naval personnel and the nation, and the inculcation of pride in the heritage of the naval service. By acquiring, organizing, preserving, and providing access, through reference services and Internet outreach, to pertinent books, manuscripts, and other textual sources, the library enhances and enriches the understanding of naval and maritime history, customs, and traditions.

Profiles in Courage (TV series)

Profiles in Courage is an American historical anthology series that was telecast weekly on NBC from November 8, 1964 to May 9, 1965 (Sundays, 6:30-7:30pm, Eastern). The series was based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage by U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated the year before.

Quincy political family

The Quincy family was a prominent political family in Massachusetts from the mid-17th century through to the early 20th century. It is connected to the Adams family through Abigail Adams.The family estate was in Mount Wollaston, first independent, then part of Braintree, Massachusetts, and now the city of Quincy. The remaining pieces of the Quincy homestead are the Josiah Quincy House and the Dorothy Quincy Homestead, after the land was broken up into building lots called Wollaston Park in the 19th century and the Josiah Quincy Mansion was demolished in 1969.

The names of President John Quincy Adams, several American towns, the USS Quincy, Quincy House at Harvard, Quincy House in Washington, D.C., and Quincy Market in Boston are among the legacies of the Quincy family name.

Susanna Boylston

Susanna Boylston Adams Hall (March 5, 1708 – April 17, 1797) was a prominent early-American socialite, mother of the second U.S. President, John Adams and grandmother of the sixth President, John Quincy Adams. Her parents were Peter Boylston (c. 1673–1743) and Anne White (1685–1772); her grandparents, Dr. Thomas Boylston (1644–1695) and Mary Gardner (1648–?) and Benjamin White (?–1722) and Susanna Cogswell (1656–1701).She married John Adams, Sr. in 1734. She is among the least well known of the famous Adams family, for her name appears infrequently in the large body of Adams writings. Historian David McCullough notes that no writings of hers survive, though it is known that others would often read to her, suggesting that she might have been illiterate. However, in his memoirs, John Adams himself wrote that "as my parents were both fond of reading...I was very early taught to read at home," indicating that his mother likely possessed at least a basic level of literacy.John Adams and Susanna Boylston Adams had the following children:

John Adams

Peter Boylston Adams – farmer, militia captain of Braintree, Massachusetts.

Elihu Adams – a company commander in the militia during the American Revolution; died from a dysentery.Five years after the death of her first husband, she married Lt. John Hall, who apparently did not get along with her grown children. She died around a month into her son's presidency.

The Selected Papers of John Jay

The Selected Papers of John Jay is an ongoing endeavor by scholars at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library to organize, transcribe and publish a wide range of politically and culturally important letters authored by and written to American Founding Father John Jay that demonstrate the depth and breadth of Jay's contributions as a nation builder. More than 13,000 documents from over 75 university and historical collections have been compiled and photographed to date. Printed volumes illustrate Jay's roles as a patriot, jurist, diplomat, peacemaker and governor. Of seven planned chronological letterpress volumes, four books have been completed and span the years 1760 - 1788; three more volumes are scheduled for release dates of 2017, 2019 and 2020. An online, indexed database of the letters in these volumes and more was first launched in 2003. The papers also shed light on the lives of other key Founding Fathers like Washington, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton.

The Washington Papers

The Washington Papers, also known as The Papers of George Washington, is a project dedicated to the publication of comprehensive letterpress and digital editions of George and Martha Washington’s papers. Founded at the University of Virginia in 1968 as the Papers of George Washington, the Washington Papers is an expansive project that includes the papers and documents of George Washington as well as of individuals close to him. The Washington Papers aims to place Washington in a larger context and to bring individuals, such as Martha Washington and Washington family members, into sharper focus. The project is currently headed by editor in chief and director Jennifer E. Steenshorne, and is the largest collection of its type. The project is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Packard Humanities Institute, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, the University of Virginia, the Florence Gould Foundation, and other private donors.The project should be distinguished from the archives of George Washington, part of which resides at the Library of Virginia, and the George Washington Papers American Memory database at the Library of Congress. Both of the aforementioned archives hold some of Washington's original correspondence, whereas the Washington Papers holds copies of these documents, along with copies of related documents, that are accompanied by transcriptions and annotations. The Washington Papers are used to provide researchers with a different form of access than the ones offered by the Library of Virginia and American Memory by way of increased ease of reading, both in legibility and in context.

Thomas Boylston Adams (1772–1832)

Thomas Boylston Adams (May 4, 1772 – March 13, 1832) was the third and youngest son of the 2nd president of the United States, John and Abigail (Smith) Adams.

Treaty of Ghent

The Treaty of Ghent (8 Stat. 218) was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Both sides signed it on December 24, 1814, in the city of Ghent, United Netherlands. The treaty restored relations between the two nations to status quo ante bellum, restoring the borders of the two countries to the lines before the war started in June 1812. The treaty was approved by the UK parliament and signed into law by the Prince Regent (the future King George IV) on December 30, 1814. It took a month for news of the peace treaty to reach the United States, during which American forces under Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. The Treaty of Ghent was not fully in effect until it was ratified by the U.S. Senate unanimously on February 17, 1815. It began the more than two centuries of peaceful relations between the U.S. and Britain, although there were a few tense moments such as the Trent Affair in 1861.

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