Charles Francis Adams (August 18, 1807 – November 21, 1886), the son of President John Quincy Adams and Louisa Catherine Johnson-Adams, was an American lawyer, politician, diplomat and writer.
He was born in Boston, and attended Boston Latin School and Harvard College, where he graduated in 1825. He then studied law with Daniel Webster, and practiced in Boston. He wrote a number of reviews of works about American and British history for the North American Review.
Adams was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1831, served in the state senate 1835–1840, founded and edited the journal Boston Whig in 1846, and was the unsuccessful nominee of the Free Soil Party for Vice President of the United States in 1848.
As a Republican, Adams was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1858, where he chaired the Committee on Manufactures. He resigned to become Lincoln's minister (ambassador) to the Court of St. James (Britain) from 1861 to 1868. Powerful Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner had wanted the position, and became alienated from Adams. Britain had already recognized Confederate belligerency, but Adams was instrumental in maintaining British neutrality and preventing British diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Adams and his son, Henry Adams, who acted as his private secretary, also were kept busy monitoring Confederate diplomatic intrigues and the construction of rebel commerce raiders by British shipyards.
Back in Boston, Adams declined the presidency of Harvard University, but became one of its overseers in 1869. In 1870 Charles Francis Adams built the first presidential library in the United States, to honor his father John Quincy Adams. The Stone Library includes over 14,000 books written in twelve languages. The library is located in the "Old House" at Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Charles Francis Adams died in Boston and was interred in Mount Wollaston Cemetery, Quincy.
His children included: