Where was John Adams educated?

John Adams graduated from Harvard College, Massachusetts, in 1755. This prestigious College, first in America, was established in 1636 on the following foundations:

AFTER GOD had carried us safe to New England, and wee had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear’d convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the Civill Government: One of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate Ministry to the Churches, when our present Ministers shall lie in the Dust. And as wee were thinking and consulting how to effect this great Work; it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. Harvard* (a godly Gentleman, and a lover of Learning, there living amongst us) to give the one halfe of his Estate (it being in all about 1,700 pounds) towards the erecting of a Colledge: and all his library: after him another gave 300 pounds and others after them cast in more, and the publique hand of the State added the rest: the Colledge was, by common consent, appointed to be at Cambridge, (a place very pleasant and accommodate) and is called (according to the name of the first founder) Harvard Colledge.1

* Rev. John Harvard: 1607-38 and his wife, Ann Sadler (b. 1614) emigrated to Charlestown, New England in 1637. Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (B.A. 1632; M.A. 1635), Rev. Harvard was the son of an affluent family in London. He was an assistant-preacher at Charlestown church; his bequest and library founding Harvard College.

The Harvard Charter of 1650, commences thus:

Whereas through the good hand of God many well devoted persons have been and daily are moved and stirred up to give and bestow sundry gifts, legacies, lands and revenues for the advancement of all good literature, arts and sciences in Harvard College in Cambridge in the County of Middlesex and to the maintenance of the President and Fellows and for all accommodations of buildings and all other necessary provisions that may conduce to the education of the English and Indian youth of this Country in knowledge and godliness. It is therefore ordered and enacted by this Court and the Authority thereof that for the purposes aforesaid from henceforth that the said Colledge in Cambridge in Middlesex in New England shall be a Corporation consisting of seven persons… 2

One of great accomplishments of John Adams was the drafting of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, of which Chapter V, Section I is entitled, The University. It reads as follows:

I. Whereas our wise and pious ancestors, so early as the year one thousand six hundred and thirty six, laid the foundation of Harvard College, in which university many persons of great eminence have, by the blessing of GOD, been initiated in those arts and sciences, which qualified them for public employments, both in Church and State: And whereas the encouragement of arts and sciences, and all good literature, tends to the honor of GOD, the advantage of the Christian religion, and the great benefit of this and the other United States of America – It is declared, that the PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE, in their corporate capacity, and their successors in that capacity, their officers and servants, shall have, hold, use, exercise and enjoy, all the powers, authorities, rights, liberties, privileges, immunities and franchises, which they now have or are entitled to have, hold, use, exercise and enjoy: And the same are hereby ratified and confirmed unto them, the said President and Fellows of Harvard College, and to their successors, and to their Officers and servants, respectively forever…

Section II of the Massachusetts Constitution bears the title, The Encouragement of Literature, etc., and from the pen of Adams, we read:

WISDOM, and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of Legislatures and Magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university at Cambridge, public schools and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings; sincerity, good humour, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people.

Constitution of Massachusetts art 2, Chapter V. Declared ratified 15 June 1780.

Having been educated at Harvard College, John Adams’ 1780 Constitution of Massachusetts, in Chapter V, Section I, entitled – The University – praises his wise and pious ancestors in laying the foundation of his alma mater, which he states, has educated many persons of great eminence, who have by the blessing of GOD, been qualified for service in Church and State; and that the education they received tends to the honor of GOD – the advantage of the Christian religion, and subsequently, to the great benefit of Massachusetts and the nation as a whole.

Furthermore, Adams’ famed 1780 Massachusetts Constitution states that,

As the happiness of the people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of public worship of GOD, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this Commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense for the institution of the public worship of GOD, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

Hence, we understand that alumni John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry, Rufus King, and Robert Treat Paine together with many other eminent founding fathers of the American Republic, were heirs of the teachings of the Christian religion at Harvard College.

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The Charter of the President and Fellows of Harvard College. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, State House, Boston, Massachusetts. Library of Congress, Rare Book Collection.

2 Ibid.

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