Lawyer, diplomat and politician; sixth president of the United States.
Secretary to Francis Dana, the United States’ minister to Russia (1781). Studied classics at The Hague, before serving as his father’s secretary at the 1783 peace negotiations which ended the American Revolution.
Returned to America, graduated from Harvard (1787) and practiced law in Massachusetts for a short time before becoming minister to the Netherlands (1794).
Returned to America (1801). Massachusetts senator (1803-08). Minister to Russia (1809). Helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent (1814), which ended the War of 1812.
Served as minister to England before becoming president Monroe’s secretary of state (1817). Elected president of the United States (1824); served (1825-29).
After a brief retirement, Adams was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1831; served in that body until his death.
Throughout his political career Adams opposed slavery, perhaps most famously during the 1841 Amistad trial at which he represented, and gained freedom for, a group of Africans who had staged a successful mutiny aboard a slave ship.
Despite a tendency toward independence which earned him dislike and cost him political favor, Adams remained a central figure in the political life of the United States for the entirety of his adult life.