Bibliography of John Adams

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Partially bald man with white hair in black suit sits
John Adams by Gilbert Stuart, c. 1815, oil on canvas – National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

The following is a list and discussion of important scholarly resources relating to John Adams.


  • Akers, Charles W. "John Adams" in Henry Graff, ed. (3rd ed. 2002). The Presidents: A Reference History. online
  • Chinard, Gilbert (1933). Honest John Adams. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company.
  • Diggins, John P. (2003). Schlesinger Jr., Arthur M. (ed.). John Adams. The American Presidents. New York, NY: Time Books. ISBN 0-8050-6937-2.
  • Ellis, Joseph J. (1993). Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393311333.
  • Ferling, John E. (1992). John Adams: A Life. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 0870497308.
  • Grant, James (2005). John Adams: Party of One. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 978-03741-1314-8.
  • McCullough, David (2001). John Adams. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. p. 144. ISBN 978-1416575887.
  • Morse, John Torrey. John Adams. (1899) old scholarly biography online free
  • Ryerson, Richard Alan, ed. (2001). John Adams and the Founding of the Republic
  • Ryerson, Richard Alan (2016). John Adams's Republic: The One, the Few, and the Many 555 pp
  • Shaw, Peter (1975). The Character of John Adams. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393008568.
  • Smith, Page (1962a). John Adams. Volume I, 1735–1784. New York, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. |volume= has extra text (help)
  • Smith, Page (1962b). John Adams. Volume II, 1784–1826. New York, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. |volume= has extra text (help)
  • Waldstreicher, David, ed. (2013). A Companion to John Adams and John Quincy Adams, ISBN 978-0470655580

Presidency and Federalism[edit]

Books on the Founders[edit]

Political thought[edit]

  • Haraszti, Zoltan (1952). John Adams and the Prophets of Progress. Incisive analysis of John Adams's political comments on numerous authors through examining his marginalia in his copies of their books.
  • Howe, John R. Jr. (1966). The Changing Political Thought of John Adams
  • Morse, Anson D. "The Politics of John Adams." American Historical Review 4.2 (1899): 292–312. online free

Other specialized studies[edit]

Primary sources[edit]


External video
video icon Booknotes interview with Joseph Ellis on Passionate Sage, September 5, 1993, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by McCullough on John Adams at the Library of Congress, April 24, 2001, C-SPAN
video icon Presentation by McCullough on John Adams at the National Book Festival, September 8, 2001, C-SPAN

Adams' grandson Charles Francis Adams Sr. edited the first two volumes of The Works of John Adams, Esq., Second President of the United States. These were published between 1850 and 1856 by Charles C. Little and James Brown in Boston. The first seven chapters were produced by John Quincy Adams.[1]

The premier modern biography was Honest John Adams, a 1933 biography by the noted French specialist in American history Gilbert Chinard, who came to Adams after writing his acclaimed 1929 biography of Jefferson. For a generation, Chinard's work was regarded as the best life of Adams, and it is still an important text in illustrating the themes of Adams' biographical and historical scholarship. Following the opening of the Adams family papers in the 1950s, Page Smith published the first major biography to use these previously inaccessible primary sources; his biography won a 1962 Bancroft Prize but was criticized for its scanting of Adams' intellectual life and its diffuseness. In 1975, Peter Shaw published The Character of John Adams, a thematic biography noted for its psychological insight into Adams' life. The 1992 character study by Joseph Ellis, Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams, was Ellis's first major publishing success and remains one of the most useful and insightful studies of Adams' personality. In 1992, the Revolutionary War historian and biographer John E. Ferling published his acclaimed John Adams: A Life, also noted for its psychological sensitivity.[1] David McCullough authored the 2001 biography John Adams, which won various awards and was the basis for a 2008 TV miniseries.[2]


  1. ^ a b Ferling, Select Bibliography.
  2. ^ Catlin, Roger (March 11, 2008). "HBO miniseries gives John Adams his due". The Courant. Hartford, Connecticut: Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on May 10, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)