Charles William Adams (August 16, 1817 – September 9, 1878) was a Confederate States Army colonel during the American Civil War (Civil War). In 1864, he was commander of the Confederate Northern Sub-District of Arkansas, within the Union Army lines. He had the title, although not the formal rank, of "acting brigadier general." He was not officially appointed by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and confirmed by the Confederate States Senate to brigadier general grade, even though some sources identify him as a brigadier general.
Adams was a planter, lawyer and judge before the war and a lawyer after the war. As a delegate to the Arkansas secession convention, he was an ardent secessionist. He was a law partner of United States Senator William K. Sebastian before the war and of Confederate brigadier general and Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite of Freemasons Southern Jurisdiction, Albert Pike, after the war. He was a grandfather of Helen Keller.
Charles W. Adams was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 16, 1817. His parents were Benjamin and Susannah (Goodhue) Adams. Benjamin was related to President of the United States John Adams.
In 1819, the Adams family moved to New Albany, Indiana, where Charles was a clerk in a mercantile house between 1830 and 1835.Adams moved to Helena, Arkansas in 1835 and became a cashier in a mercantile house. In 1837, he became cashier of the Real Estate Bank of Arkansas. After studying law at night, he became a lawyer in 1839. In the early 1840s, Adams entered into a law partnership with William K. Sebastian, who became a United States Senator in 1848. Adams was a judge from 1852 to 1854. He also became a large cotton planter and slaveholder.
Adams married Lucy Everett. Their daughter Kate was the mother of Helen Keller.
Adams was a presidential elector for John Bell in 1860. He was elected to the Arkansas secession convention in 1861 and vigorously advocated for secession of that state from the union
Adams briefly returned to Helena, Arkansas after the war.He attempted to practice law but the local federal military authorities would not permit him to do so because he refused to take the Ironclad oath.Later in 1865, Adams moved to Memphis, Tennessee.There he opened a law practice with former Confederate brigadier general and prominent Freemason, Albert Pike.
Charles William Adams died on September 9, 1878 of yellow fever at Memphis, Tennessee.He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, in Memphis.
Charles W. Adams was a grandfather of the author, political activist, disabilities advocate and lecturer Helen Adams Keller, who overcame deafblindness to achieve her many accomplishments
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