As a Republican, Adams was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1858, where he chaired the Committee on Manufactures.
He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1857.
The younger Adams, fresh from his edition of the letters of his grandmother, Abigail Adams, took up the project that his father had left uncompleted, and between 1850 and 1856 turned out not just the two volumes of the biography but eight further volumes presenting editions of John Adams's Diary and Autobiography, his major political writings, and a selection of letters and speeches.
Adams was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1841, served in the state senate 1844–1845, founded and edited the journal Boston Whig in 1846, and was the unsuccessful nominee of the Free Soil Party for Vice President of the United States in 1848.
The senior Adams began a life of his father, John Adams, but only wrote a few chapters before he resumed his political career in 1830 with his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
He developed this expertise in part because of the example of his father, who in 1829 had turned from politics (after his defeated bid for a second presidential term in 1828) to history and biography.
He was born in Boston, and attended Boston Latin School and Harvard College, where he graduated in 1825.
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