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Born at Quincy, Province of Massachusetts Bay.
At the age of nine, Charles traveled with his father and older brother John Quincy to Europe. He briefly studied in Passy (an area of Paris, France), Amsterdam, and Leiden University in South Holland, where he graduated 29 January 1781. He returned home alone from Europe in December.
In 1789 he graduated from Harvard University to become an attorney and moved to New York City. Plans had been made for him to work at the legal office of Alexander Hamilton, but then Hamilton was named secretary of the treasury.
For a while, Charles resided with John Mulligan, son of the revolutionary war spy Hercules Mulligan. Then-Vice President John Adams was concerned about the intense "closeness" between his son and Mulligan and insisted that they separate. Baron von Steuben offered to take both men into his home where they lived for some time.
Charles Adams married Sarah "Sally" Smith in a double wedding ceremony with her sister at First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York in 1795. Her sister was Margaret Smith who married Felix Leblond de St. Hilaire. Sally and Margaret Smith had a brother, William Stephens Smith, was married to Charles Adams' sister, Abigail Adams so in essence, Charles married his sister's sister-in-law.
When Charles died, he was buried on 2 December 1800 in the cemetery at First Presbyterian Church at 5 Wall Street,New York, New York.
There are many accounts of Charles's life, which was cut short by the disease of alcoholism as well as references to him in the television series on HBO called John Adams.
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