Charles Francis Adams III

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Charles Adams
Adams (left) with Speaker Longworth on the White House lawn, 1929
44th United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
March 5, 1929 – March 4, 1933
President Herbert Hoover
Preceded by Curtis D. Wilbur
Succeeded by Claude A. Swanson
4th Mayor of Quincy
In office
Preceded by William Hodges
Succeeded by Russell Adams Sears
Personal details
Born Charles Francis Adams III
(1866-08-02)August 2, 1866
Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died June 10, 1954(1954-06-10) (aged 87)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Frances Lovering
Children 2, including Charles
Relatives John Quincy Adams II (Father)
Education Harvard University (BA, LLB)

Charles Francis Adams III known as Deacon (August 2, 1866 – June 10, 1954), was an American politician. He was a member of the prominent American Adams family, was the United States Secretary of the Navy under President Herbert Hoover and a well-known yachtsman.[1]

Early life[edit]

Charles Francis Adams III was born on August 2, 1866 in Quincy, Massachusetts to Frances "Fanny" Cadwalader Crowninshield (1839–1911) and John Quincy Adams II (1833–1894).[2]

Adams graduated cum laude from Harvard College in 1888, where he was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Alpha chapter). He later graduated from Harvard Law School in 1892.[3]


A scion of the Adams family that produced two presidents, Charles Francis III, the son of John Quincy Adams II, the oldest son of the Charles Francis Adams, Sr. (1807–1886), was the great-grandson of the sixth U. S. President John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), and the great-great-grandson of the second U.S. President John Adams (1735–1826).[3] His mother Fanny Crowninshield was the granddaughter of U.S. Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Williams Crowninshield.[4] Adams was also the third cousin twice removed of Otis Norcross (1811–1882), the 19th Mayor of Boston. Both descending from their fourth great grandfather, Joseph Adams; Otis from his first wife Mary [Chapin], and Charles from his second wife Hannah [Bass].[5]

Charles Francis Adams, Jr. (1835–1915) was the uncle, not the father of Charles Francis Adams III, an assumption regularly made by virtue of sequential name succession. Charles F. Adams, Jr. had five children, the first three being daughters, which may explain why his brother John Q. Adams II took the prerogative to name his son after their uncle. Charles, Jr.'s only sons (twins) were born in 1875.


After graduating from Harvard Law, and being admitted to the Bar in 1893, he was first a lawyer, then went into business.[1] From 1896 to 1897, Adams served as Mayor of Quincy, Massachusetts.

In 1903, while serving as President of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Adams proposed to Congress that the famed frigate USS Constitution be restored and returned to active service. This led to Congress authorizing funds for the restoration of Constitution and opening her to the public in 1907.

In 1916, the Massachusetts legislature and electorate approved a calling of a Constitutional Convention.[6] Adams was elected as a delegate at large to serve as a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1917.[7]

At one time, he was an officer in 43 corporations, including several banks and many of the country's largest corporations such as the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, the Harvard Corporation.[1]

Secretary of the Navy[edit]

From 1929 until his retirement in 1933, Adams served as the Secretary of the Navy under President Herbert Hoover. While Secretary, Adams vigorously promoted public understanding of the Navy's indispensable role in international affairs, and worked strenuously to maintain naval strength and efficiency during a period of severe economic depression. He served at the London Naval Treaty in 1930 where he successfully maintained the principle of United States naval parity with Britain.[1]

Adams was a supporter of limited presidential terms, well before the 22nd Amendment passed, and advocated that the Presidents should be required to renounce political parties and that after they left the presidency, should be made ex-officio members of the United States Senate.[1]

Activities and interests[edit]

In 1920, Adams skippered the America's Cup defender Resolute and soon became known as the "Dean of American Helmsmen". He was posthumously inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1993. In 1939, he won the King's Cup, Astor Cup, and Puritan Cup, the three most coveted domestic yachting trophies in a single season.[1]

In 1929, he became a member of the District of Columbia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. His national membership number was 48,952.[8] He was also an honorary companion of the Naval Order of the United States. In 1932, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[9]

Personal life[edit]

On April 3, 1899,[10] Adams married Frances (née Lovering) (d. 1956),[11] the daughter of U.S. Representative William C. Lovering (1835–1910),[12] at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Together, they had two children:[1]

  • Catherine Frances Lovering Adams, (1902-1988), who married Henry Sturgis Morgan, son of J. P. Morgan, Jr. and one of the founders of Morgan Stanley (1935), along with Harold Stanley, on June 26, 1923.[13][14] Together, they had five sons.
  • Charles Francis Adams IV, (1910-1999), who was a prominent businessman and the first president of Raytheon Company, was married firstly to Margaret [Stockton], and had issue: Abigail Adams, Allison Adams, Charles Francis Adams V, and Timothy Adams. He married secondly, widow Mrs. Beatrice D. Penati.[15]

Adams died on June 11, 1954,[1] and was interred in Mount Wollaston Cemetery in Quincy, Massachusetts,[12] on June 13, 1954.[16] His estate, valued at $192,000 in 1954,[17] was left to his widow.[18]


The Charles Francis Adams Memorial Trophy for yacht racing was established in his memory, and the Navy destroyer USS Charles F. Adams was dedicated in his honor.[19][20]

Family tree[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Times, Special To The New York (12 June 1954). "C.F. ADAMS IS DEAD; HEADED U. S. NAVY | Hoover Cabinet Aide, 87, Was Banker, Philanthropist and Civic Leader in Boston | NOTED AS YACHTSMAN | While at Helm of Resolute, He Defeated Shamrock IV - Won 3 Cups in Year". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Lint, Gregg L., Taylor, C. James, et al. The Adams Papers: Papers of John Adams, October 1782 - May 1783. Harvard: The Belknap Press, Vol. 14, p. xlii, Boston: Harvard University Press, 2008.
  3. ^ a b 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Cutter, William Richard and Adams, William Frederick. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing. Co, Vol. 1, 1910, p. 541 – 545.
  6. ^ Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, MA: Wright & Potter printing co., state printers, 1919, pp. 7–8. 
  7. ^ Bridgman, Arthur Milnor (1919), A Souvenir of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, Boston, 1917-1919, Stoughton, MA: A. M. (Arthur Milnor) Bridgman, p. 57. 
  8. ^ Sons of the American Revolution Applications.
  9. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Adams -- Lovering". The New York Times. 4 April 1899. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  11. ^ Times, Special To The New York (10 April 1956). "MRS. C. F. ADAMS, 87, WIDOW OF NAVY AIDE". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Marquis Who's Who, Inc. Who Was Who in American History, the Military. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1975. P. 2 ISBN 0837932017 OCLC 657162692
  13. ^ New York Times. "J. Pierpont's Second Son Engaged: Henry Sturgis, Harvard Junior, to Wed Miss Catherine Adams of Boston, After Graduation." June 24, 1922, p. 26.
  14. ^ "MISS ADAMS IS WED TO HENRY S. MORGAN | Boston Girl's Marriage to Banker's Son Is Performed by Bishop Lawrence | AT BRIDE'S CONCORD HOME". The New York Times. 27 June 1923. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  15. ^ "Charles Francis Adams, 88, Former Chairman of Raytheon". The New York Times. 9 January 1999. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  16. ^ Times, Special To The New York (13 June 1954). "RITES FOR C. F. ADAMS | Former Secretary of Navy Is Buried in Quincy, Mass." The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  17. ^ Times, Special To The New York (17 July 1954). "C. F. Adams Left $192,000". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  18. ^ Times, Special To The New York (19 June 1954). "Adams Estate Goes to Widow". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  19. ^ "Mass Bay Sailing Association - Awards - Historical Awards". Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  20. ^ Lyons, Mike (23 November 2013). "Plans for USS ADAMS Naval warship museum moving forward". Gannett. First Coast News WTLV. Archived from the original on 26 November 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Curtis D. Wilbur
United States Secretary of the Navy
March 5, 1929 – March 4, 1933
Succeeded by
Claude A. Swanson