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Charles Francis Adams, Jr.
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Personal Information
Born: May 27, 1835(1835-05-27)
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Died: May 20, 1915 (aged 79)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
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Branch: Union Army
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Rank: Brevet Brigadier General
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Battles: American Civil War
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Charles Francis Adams, Jr. (May 27, 1835 – May 20, 1915) was a member of the prominent Adams family, and son of Charles Francis Adams, Sr.. He served as a colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War and was a railroad executive following the war.

Early life and career[]

File:Charles Francis Adams, Jr. - LoC Civil War.jpg

Captain Adams (second from right) with officers of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, August 1864

Adams was born into a family with a long legacy in American public life. He was the great-grandson of United States President John Adams, and the grandson of president John Quincy Adams. His father Charles Francis Adams, Sr.[1] was a lawyer, politician, diplomat, and writer.

After graduating from Harvard University in 1856, Adams served on the Union side in the American Civil War, serving initially as a captain in a Massachusetts cavalry regiment. He fought with distinction during the Gettysburg Campaign, where his company was heavily engaged at the Battle of Aldie. He received the brevet rank of brigadier-general in the Regular Army in 1865.

On 8 May 1865, he married Mary Elizabeth [Ogden]; daughter of Abram Ogden of New York City, NY. The couple had three daughters and two twin sons: Mary Ogden ("Molly") Adams, Louisa Catherine Adams, Elizabeth Ogden ("Elise") Adams, John Adams (b. 1875 - 1964), and Henry Adams (b. 1875 - 1951), both of whom graduated Harvard in 1898.[2][3][4]

Following the Civil War, he was appointed to the Massachusetts Railroad Commission. There he attempted to persuade (rather than coerce) railroads into compliance with accepted business norms. Thomas McCraw called Adams's approach to regulation "the Sunshine Commission" since the purpose of the commission was to expose the corrupt business practices in hopes that, once out in the open, the businessmen would be shamed into mending their ways. It was in this vein that he wrote Chapters of Erie. However, true to his regulatory philosophy, he favored the protection of businessmen over that of the consumers. He saw regulation as necessary to protect investors and other businessmen from the capriciousness of a hostile public or the machinations of other unscruplous stock jobbers.[5]

Union Pacific Railroad[]

Adams was president of the Union Pacific Railroad from 1884 to 1890, having previously become widely known as an authority on the management of railways. Among his writings are Railroads, Their Origin and Problems (1878).


His siblings include: older sister Louisa Catherine [Adams], wife of Charles Kuhn, of Philadelphia, older brother [Hon.] John Quincy Adams II; the father of Charles Adams, III, the historian Henry Brooks Adams[2], Arthur Adams, who died young during their childhood, Mary Adams, who married Henry Parker Quincy, of Dedham, MA, and historian Peter Chardon Brooks Adams, of Beverly Farms, MA. who married Evelyn [Davis].

Death and burial[]

Charles F. Adams, Jr. died May 20, 1915, a week shy of his 80th birthday. He is buried in Mount Wollaston Cemetery in Quincy, Massachusetts. His grave can be found in the Old Section, Lot 337.[6]


  • Railroads, Their Origin and Problems (1878)
  • Notes on Railroad Accidents (1879)
  • Charles Francis Adams, 1835-1915: An Autobiography (1916)

See also[]

  • List of Massachusetts generals in the American Civil War


  1. Browning, Charles Henry. Americans of Royal Descent: A Collection of Genealogies of American Families Whose Lineage is traced to the Legitimate Issue of Kings. Philadelphia: Porter & Costes, 1891, ed. 2, pp. 68 – 69.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Adams, Henry, Levenson, J. C., Massachusetts Historical Society, et al. The Letters of Henry Adams, Volumes 4 – 6, 1892–1918. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989, pp. xxxvi – xxxvii.
  3. Harvard College. Memorial of the Harvard Class of 1856: Prepared for the Fifteenth Anniversary of Graduation. Cambridge: Geo. H. Ellis, 1906, pp. 1 – 7.
  4. Rand, John Clark. One of a Thousand: A Series of Biographical Sketches of One Thousand Representative Men Resident in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, A. D. 1889 – ’89. Boston: First National Pub. Co., 1890, p. 4.
  5. Clay McShane discusses Adams's regulatory philosophy in Technology and Reform: Street Railways and the Growth of Milwaukee, 1887-1900 (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin for the Department of History, University of Wisconsin, 1974), 26-28.
  6. Charles Francis Adams, Jr. at Find a Grave Retrieved on 2010-02-08

External links[]

Template:Start box |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Sidney Dillon |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|President of Union Pacific Railroad
1884 – 1890 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Sidney Dillon |-


Template:AHA Presidents

de:Charles Francis Adams, Jr. ja:チャールズ・フランシス・アダムズ (2世)