George Washington Adams

George Washington Adams

Berlin-Mitte, Mitte, Berlin, Germany
Death 30 Apr 1829 (aged 28)
Kings Point, Nassau County, New York, USA
Burial Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Plot J. Q. Adams tomb
Memorial ID 96272886 View Source

The oldest son of John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, he was born in Berlin while his father was the US ambassador to Prussia. Returning to the US with his family as an infant in Sept of 1801, he was educated in US and graduated from Harvard in the class of 1821. He studied law, practiced briefly, and then ran for, and was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1826, serving one year. In 1828, he served on the Boston City Council.

Sometime after about 2:00 AM on April 30, 1829, he jumped from the steamer Benjamin Franklin near the East River in Long Island Sound in an apparent suicide, his hat and cloak later found folding neatly on deck. He was en route Washington DC from Boston via Providence RI, had had "troubles", an alcohol problem, and some historians have suggested he felt he could not face his father in Washington. Despite his having left notes hinting he intended to commit suicide and the actual circumstances, including erratic behavior aboard the ship before his disappearance, his mother, Louisa, always insisted his death was accidental.

The Adamses had made the difficult decision in 1809, when John Quincy was appointed as the US minister to Russia, to leave both of their older sons, George and John II, in Quincy to be raised by family and educated, they ultimately not returning from Europe until 1817. Louisa, in her diaries, later expressed regret and self-recrimination for both brothers' failures and early deaths.

Only two weeks after his death, in May, did his parents learn of his illegitimate daughter born either the previous year or in early 1829 in MA to chambermaid Eliza Dolph, employed in the home of the Adams' family doctor in Boston, Thomas Welsh. Little now can be determined later of either Eliza or their child, reported as "lost" to another family, that of a sea captain and his wife, who adopted her. Some additional details can be found in the 1831 court record, "Report of a Trial: Miles Farmer vs. Dr. David Humphreys Storer", which addresses "...the transactions between Miss Eliza Dolph and George Washington Adams".

Following this then sensational trial, George's brother, Charles Francis Adams, reportedly burned George's remaining personal papers, wishing "that his past be buried with him".

His remains were not discovered until June 10th, when they were found on City Island, now The Bronx, per a contemporary newspaper story published in The Evening Post, New York, NY, the following day, Thursday the 11th (attached).

He was first interred in Westchester County, NY, just north of where he was found, but later reinterred in Quincy, date unknown, but noted as in "late autumn" of 1829. Per some accounts, his parents had already had a memorial stone placed in Quincy, not expecting his recovery, and that, if correct, assumed later removed. First internment - June 11, 1829, in the Drake Vault, St. Paul's Church, Mount Vernon, NY.

Allan Garner - Rev: Aug 28, 2021

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