Charles Francis Adams III

Charles Francis Adams III

Adams (left) with Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth on the White House lawn, June 27, 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, Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by William A. Hodges
Succeeded by Russell Adams Sears
Personal details
Born (1866-08-02)August 2, 1866
Quincy, Massachusetts
Died June 10, 1954(1954-06-10) (aged 87)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Frances Lovering Adams
Alma mater Harvard University
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Yachtsman

Charles Francis Adams III (August 2, 1866 – June 10, 1954) was the United States Secretary of the Navy under President Herbert Hoover and a well-known yachtsman.

Early life and family

A scion of the Adams family that gave the country two presidents, Charles Francis III was born in Quincy, Massachusetts to John Quincy Adams II (1833–1894);[1][2] the oldest son of the Secretary's grandfather Charles Francis Adams, Sr.; his great-grandfather was sixth U. S. President John Quincy Adams; and his great-great-grandfather was second U.S. President John Adams. His mother was Frances "Fanny" Cadwalader Crowninshield (1839-1911), the granddaughter of U.S. Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Williams Crowninshield.[3]

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.

Early career

Adams graduated cum laude from Harvard College (1888) and from Harvard Law School (1892). He was first a lawyer, then went into business. He married Frances Lovering, daughter of U.S. Representative William C. Lovering, in 1899. They had two children, Catherine and Charles IV.

Adams served as Mayor of Quincy, Massachusetts from 1896 to 1897. Adams is the third cousin twice removed of Otis Norcross, 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].[4]

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.

1917 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention

In 1916, the Massachusetts legislature and electorate approved a calling of a Constitutional Convention.[5] Adams was elected as a delegate at large to serve as a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1917.[6]

Later life

In 1920, Adams skippered the America's Cup defender Resolute and soon became known as the "Dean of American Helmsmen". He was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame (1993).

As Secretary of the Navy under President Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933, he 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.

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.[7] He was also an honorary companion of the Naval Order of the United States.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1932.[8]

He died on June 11, 1954 and is interred in Mount Wollaston Cemetery in Quincy, Massachusetts.[9]


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.

Personal life

Charles Francis Adams III and Frances [nee Lovering] married on April 3, 1899[10] and had two children:

Charles Francis Adams III was a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Alpha chapter).

Family tree


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, MA: Wright & Potter printing co., state printers, 1919, pp. 7–8.
  6. Bridgman, Arthur Milnor (1919), A Souvenir of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, Boston, 1917-1919, Stoughton, MA: A. M. (Arthur Milnor) Bridgman, p. 57.
  7. Sons of the American Revolution Applications.
  8. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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.
Government offices
Preceded by
Curtis D. Wilbur
United States Secretary of the Navy
March 5, 1929 – March 4, 1933
Succeeded by
Claude A. Swanson
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