Biography of U.S. President John Adams Part 8 Little-Known Facts

About the United States President John Adams, biography and little-known facts.

PROFILES OF THE PRESIDENTS

2nd President

JOHN ADAMS

LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS

While Adams served as minister to Great Britain, Jefferson, who was serving in France at the time, crossed the Channel to spend a brief vacation with his friend. Among other things, the two Americans visited Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford. While touring the house, these great men showed that they were still provincial tourists after all; they cut chips off a chair alleged to have been Shakespeare's and took them home as souvenirs.

John Adams, the first president to occupy the White House, moved into the unfinished executive mansion a few weeks before Abigail arrived in Washington. In a letter home, he reported on the condition of the building and concluded: "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." More than 100 years later, President Franklin Roosevelt asked that this prayer be inscribed over the fireplace in the State Dining Room.

In a letter to her daughter, Abigail reported that the executive mansion was barely habitable at the time she moved in. Permanent stairways had not been installed, and the bedrooms were uncomfortable drafty. The walls were still so wet that seven cords of wood had to be burned in order to dry them out. Showing her practical nature, Abigail used "the great unfinished audience room" (the East Room) as a place to hang the family's laundry.

In 1787 Adams bought a frame house in Quincy known as Peacefield and later passed it on to his son. Over the years, the house was used by four generations of politicians, diplomats, writers, and historians in this most distinguished American family. As the historian Henry Adams was taking a friend through the family's longtime home, he pointed to an old chair and remarked, "This is the chair in which John Adams was stricken." He paused for a moment, then asked, "Do you know how I know?" When the friend shook his head, Adams turned the chair over and showed him a piece of paper tacked onto the bottom. There, in a fine hand, were the words "Father was seated in this chair when he was stricken July 4, 1826. signed John Quincy Adams."

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