Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

Home
Biographies
-Signers of the Declaration
-Signers of the A. O. C.
-Signers of the U. S. Constitution
-Wives of the Signers
-Other Founders
Documents
Forum
FAQs
Search


Follow colonialhall on Twitter

Page 9

John Adams

1735-1826


 

Retirement and Death

John and Abigail moved to this home after their return from France. The home, now part of Adams National Historic Park in Quincy, Massachusetts, is much larger than when they originally moved in.
On retiring from the presidency he removed to his former residence at Quincy, where, in quiet, he spent the remainder of his days. In 1820, he voted as elector of president and vice president; and, in the same year, at the advanced age of 85, he was a member of the convention of Massachusetts, assembled to revise the constitution of that commonwealth.
   Mr. Adams retained the faculties of his mind, in remarkable perfection, to the end of his long life. His unabated love of reading and contemplation, added to an interesting circle of friendship and affection, were sources of felicity in declining years, which seldom fall to lot of any one.
   "But," to use the language of a distinguished eulogist [Daniel Webster], "he had other enjoyments. He saw around him that prosperity and general happiness, which had been the object of his public cares and labours. No man ever beheld more clearly, and for a longer time, the great and beneficial effects of the services rendered by himself to his country. That liberty, which he so early defended, that independence, of which he was so able an advocate and supporter, he saw, we trust, firmly and securely established. The population of the country thickened around him faster, and extended wider, than his own sanguine predictions had anticipated; and the wealth, respectability, and power of the nation, sprang up to a magnitude, which it is quite impossible he could have expected to witness, in his day. He lived, also, to behold those principles of civil freedom, which had been developed, established, and practically applied in America, attract attention, command respect, and awaken imitation, in other regions of the globe; and well might, and well did he exclaim, 'where will the consequences of the American revolution end!'
   "If any thing yet remains to fill this cup of happiness, let it be added, that he lived to see a great and intelligent people bestow the highest honour in their gift, where he had bestowed his own kindest parental affections, and lodged his fondest hopes.
   "At length the day approached when this eminent patriot was to be summoned to another world; and, as if to render that day forever memorable in the annals of American history, it was the day on which the illustrious Jefferson was himself, also to terminate his distinguished earthly career. That day was the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
   "Until within a few days previous, Mr. Adams had exhibited no indications of rapid decline. The morning of the fourth of July, 1826, he was unable to rise from his bed. Neither to himself, or his friends, however, was his dissolution supposed to be so near. He was asked to suggest a toast, appropriate to the celebration of the day. His mind seemed to glance back to the hour in which, fifty years before, he had voted for the Declaration of Independence, and with the spirit with which he then raised his hand, he now exclaimed, 'Independence forever.' At four o'clock in the afternoon he expired. Mr. Jefferson had departed a few hours before him."
John Adams, his wife Abigail Adams, their son John Quincy Adams, and his wife Louisa Catherine Adams are all buried here at the United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts--only a block away from the visitor's center of Adams National Historic Park.
   We close this imperfect sketch of the life of this distinguished man in the language of one [John Quincy Adams] who, from the relation in which he stood to the subject of this memoir, must have felt, more than any other individual, the impressiveness of the event. "They, (Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson,) departed cheered by the benediction of their country, to whom they left the inheritance of their fame, and the memory of their bright example. If we turn our thoughts to the condition of their country, in the contrast of the first and last day of that half century, how resplendent and sublime is the transition from gloom to glory! Then, glancing through the same lapse of time, in the condition of the individuals, we see the first day marked with fulness[sic] of vigour of youth, in the pledge of their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honour, to the cause of freedom and of mankind. And on the last, extended on the bed of death, with but sense and sensibility left to breathe a last aspiration to heaven of blessing upon their country; may we not humbly hope, that to them, too, it was a pledge of transition from gloom to glory; and that while their mortal vestments were sinking into the clod of the valley, their emancipated spirits were ascending to the bosom of their God!"
Previous
| (1) Birth and Education | (2) Legal Career | (3) Continental Congress | (4) Declaration of Independence | (5) Meeting with Lord Howe | (6) Ambassador to France | (7) Ambassador to England | (8) Vice President and President | (9) Retirement and Death |

See also:

  • The biography of Abigail Smith Adams, John Adams' wife

     
     

    Designed and Edited by John Vinci
    Last modified July 21, 2008