Biography of John Adams

Lawyer (1758-1761)

"My Inclination was soon fixed upon the Law: But my judgment was not so easily determined."

John Adams, Autobiography

Adams began to study law under James Putnam. Adams continued to teach school during the day and study law at night. When it came time for Adams to present himself to the bar at Braintree, Putnam failed to accompany Adams. Fortunately, Jeremiah Gridley, another lawyer, recommended Adams. Adams was admitted to the bar in 1758. Gridley also gave Adams sage advice not to marry early. Adams followed this advice and threw himself into his law studies.

Later that year, John Adams met Hannah Quincy who was a year younger than John. They met on many a Sunday evening. Adams almost forgot Gridley's advice and was on the brink of a proposal when two of Adams' friends walked into the parlor. Soon Hannah tired of waiting on Adams and married another man in 1760.

When the citizens of Worcester learned that Adams was now a lawyer, they offered him a position as town register of deeds if would set up in town as a lawyer. Adams rejected their offer and returned to Braintree.

Adams' first case was between two neighbors that had been feuding for years. Adams' client had lost the first case. Adams' client had filed a sort of an appeal, called a writ. Adams lost that case on a technicality he - had forgotten to fill the name of the county on the writ! After the case, Adams realized that to become a successful lawyer, he needed to study local law instead of the law classics he was reading.

In 1764, Adams married Abigail Smith on October 25. At the time John was 28 and his bride was 19. Abigail became John's best friend and quite possibly his wisest political advisor. Though they were separated for long periods of time, Abigail kept John posted of the current events at home. Abigail was the first First Lady to live in the White House and is regarded as one of the early advocates of the women's liberation movement. Abigail and John had four children live to maturity. She was the only First Lady to have a son become President. Abigail died of typhoid fever on October 28, 1818, just after the Adams' fifty-fourth anniversary.