Full House

The house where not one, but two presidents lived

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his may be the most historic house in the United States, yet you’ve probably never been to it. The Adams National Historic Site was home to not one, but two presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Others in the Adams family who lived here included Charles Francis Adams, U.S. ambassador to Great Britain during the Civil War, and literary historians Henry and Brooks Adams. The site includes the two adjoining modest saltbox houses where the presidents, father and son, were born, and the impressive mansion where they later lived, which is crowded with 78,000 artifacts from their eventful lives including the first furniture used in the White House, the desk on which the Massachusetts constitution was drafted, and the imprint used by John Adams to seal the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War and by John Quincy Adams to seal the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812.

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In one of the weirdest coincidences in American history, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence—Adams in his upstairs study here and Jefferson at Monticello. “Thomas Jefferson survives,” were purportedly the last words of Adams, who didn’t know Jefferson was already dead.

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