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Massachusetts Historic Figures

John Adams
1735-1826: John Adams born on Oct. 30 (Oct. 19, old style), 1735, at Braintree (now Quincy), Mass. A Harvard graduate, he considered teaching and the ministry but finally turned to law and was admitted to the bar in 1758. Six years later, he married Abigail Smith. He opposed the Stamp Act, served as lawyer for patriots indicted by the British, and by the time of the Continental Congresses, was in the vanguard of the movement for independence. In 1778, he went to France as commissioner. Subsequently he helped negotiate the peace treaty with Britain, and in 1785 became envoy to London. Resigning in 1788, he was elected vice president under Washington and was re-elected in 1792.

Though a Federalist, Adams did not get along with Hamilton, who sought to prevent his election to the presidency in 1796 and thereafter intrigued against his administration. In 1798, Adam's independent policy averted a war with France but completed the break with Hamilton and the right-wing Federalists; at the same time, the enactment of the Alien and Sedition Acts, directed against foreigners and against critics of the government, exasperated the Jeffersonian opposition. The split between Adams and Hamilton resulted in Jefferson's becoming the next president. Adams retired to his home in Quincy. He and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
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John Quincy Adams
1767-1848: John Quincy Adams was born on July 11, 1767, at Braintree (now Quincy), Mass., the son of John Adams, the second president. He spent his early years in Europe with his father, graduated from Harvard, and entered law practice. His anti-Paine newspaper articles won him political attention. In 1794, he became minister to the Netherlands, the first of several diplomatic posts that occupied him until his return to Boston in 1801. In 1797, he married Louisa Catherine Johnson.

In 1803' Adams was elected to the Senate, nominally as a Federalist, but his repeated displays of independence on such issues as the Louisiana Purchase and the embargo caused his party to demand his resignation and ostracize him socially. In 1809, Madison rewarded him for his support of Jefferson by appointing him minister to St. Petersburg. He helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, and in 1815 became minister to London. In 1817 Monroe appointed him Secretary of State where he served with great distinction, gaining Florida from Spain without hostilities and playing an equal part with Monroe in formulating the Monroe Doctrine.

When no presidential candidate received a majority of electoral votes in 1824, Adams, with the support of Henry Clay, was elected by the House in 1825 over Andrew Jackson, who had the original plurality. Adams had ambitious plans of government activity to foster internal improvements and promote the arts and sciences, but congressional obstructionism, combined with his own unwillingness or inability to play the role of a politician, resulted in little being accomplished. After being defeated for re-election by Jackson in 1828, he successfully ran for the House of Representatives in 1830. There though nominally a Whig' he pursued as ever an independent course. He led the fight to force Congress to receive antislavery petitions and fathered the Smithsonian Institution.

Adams had a stroke while on the floor of the House, and died two days later on Feb. 23, 1848. His long and detailed Diary gives a unique picture of the personalities and politics of the times.
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Benjamin Franklin
1706-90: Though best remembered for his services as a diplomat and statesman during the American Revolution' this "wisest American" was also a philosopher, publisher, and scientist. His collection of common-sense sayings in Poor Richard's Almanack won immediate and lasting success. His other contributions came as the colonies, first postmaster general, and as founder of the American Philosophical Society, which later became the University of Pennsylvania.
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Paul Revere
1735-1818: Paul Revere, a leading silversmith of New England and political leader in the American Revolution was born in Boston. He also turned to various other skills-designing, engraving, printing, bell founding, and dentistry. In the French and Indian War he was a soldier, and in the period of growing colonial discontent with British measures after the Stamp Act (1765), he was a passionate anti-British spokesman. He took part in the Boston Tea Party, and was a courier (1774) for the Massachusetts committee of correspondence. Revere became a figure of popular history and legend, however, because of his ride on the night of April 18, 1775, to warn the people of the Massachusetts countryside that British soldiers were being sent out, which started the American Revolution. William Dawes and Samuel Prescott also rode forth with the news. Revere did not reach his destination at Concord but was captured by the British.

In 1780 he returned to silversmithing. His shrewdness in other enterprises, particularly the establishment of a copper-rolling and brass-casting foundry at Canton, made the remainder of his years very prosperous.
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Clara Barton
1821-1912: Organizer of the American Red Cross, born in North Oxford (now Oxford), Mass. She taught school (1839-54) and clerked in the U.S. Patent Office before the outbreak of the Civil War. She then established a service of supplies for soldiers and nursed in army camps and on the battlefields. She was called the Angel of the Battlefield. In 1865 President Lincoln appointed her to search for missing prisoners; the records she compiled also served to identify thousands of the dead at Andersonville Prison. In Europe for a conference at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War (1870), she went to work behind the German lines for the International Red Cross. She returned to the United States in 1873 and in 1881 organized the American National Red Cross, which she headed until 1904. She worked successfully for the President's signature to the Geneva treaty for the care of war wounded (1882) and emphasized Red Cross work in catastrophes other than war. Among her writings are several books on the Red Cross.
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