John Adams collaborated with his cousin, revolutionary leader Samuel Adams, but he established his own prominence prior to the American Revolution.
After the Boston Massacre, he provided a successful (though unpopular) legal defense of the accused British soldiers, in the face of severe local anti-British sentiment and driven by his devotion to the right to counsel and the "protect[ion] of innocence".
His father was a deacon in the Congregational Church, a farmer, a cordwainer, and a lieutenant in the militia.
His great-grandfather, Henry Adams, emigrated to Massachusetts from Braintree, Essex, England around 1638.
Adams' reflections on early education were in the negative mostly, including incidents of truancy, a dislike for his master, and a desire to become a farmer.
All questions on the matter ended when his father commanded that he remain in school saying, "You shall comply with my desires." Deacon Adams also retained a new school master named Joseph Marsh, and his son responded positively. degree, he taught school for a few years in Worcester, Massachusetts while pondering his permanent vocation.
Adams' birthplace was then in Braintree, Massachusetts (now Quincy, Massachusetts), and is preserved at Adams National Historical Park.
Adams' mother was from a leading medical family of present-day Brookline, Massachusetts.
He decided to become a lawyer to further those ends, writing his father that he found among lawyers "noble and gallant achievements" but, among the clergy, the "pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces." Doctrinally, he later became a Unitarian, and dropped belief in predestination, eternal damnation, the divinity of Christ, and most other Calvinist beliefs of his Puritan ancestors.
He and his wife established a family of politicians, diplomats, and historians now referred to as the Adams political family.
Adams was the father of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States.
In 1800, Adams lost re-election to Thomas Jefferson and retired to Massachusetts.
He eventually resumed his friendship with Jefferson upon the latter's own retirement by initiating a correspondence which lasted fourteen years.