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Charles Francis Adams

Adams, Charles Francis, 1835–1915, American economist and historian, b. Boston; son of Charles Francis Adams (1807–86). In the Civil War he fought at Antietam and Gettysburg and was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers. Adams became a railroad expert after the war, writing Chapters of Erie (1871), which exposed the corrupt financing of the Erie RR, and Railroads: Their Origin and Problems (1878). In 1869 he became a member, and from 1872 to 1879 was chairman, of the Massachusetts Board of Railroad Commissioners, the first such board in the nation. Adams was made chairman of the government directors of the Union Pacific in 1878 and became president in 1884, but he was ousted by the forces of Jay Gould in 1890. His reform of the public schools in the home town of the Adamses, Quincy, Mass., was described in The New Departure in the Common Schools of Quincy (1879), and the Quincy system was widely adopted. Adams served 24 years on the Harvard Board of Overseers and was president (1895–1915) of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He wrote Three Episodes of Massachusetts History (1892); Studies: Military and Diplomatic, 1775–1865 (1911); Trans-Atlantic Historical Solidarity (1913), which was a collection of lectures he had given at Oxford; and biographies of his father (1900) and Richard Henry Dana (1890).

See his autobiography (1916, repr. 1973); W. C. Ford, ed., A Cycle of Adams Letters, 1861–1865 (1920); J. T. Adams, The Adams Family (1930).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Historians, U.S.: Biographies

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