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Henry J. Adams

Portrait of Henry J. AdamsPolitician.  Born: 10 February 1816, New York.  Died: 2 June 1870, Waterville, Kan.

Henry J. Adams, a partisan on the free-state side during the Bleeding Kansas era, was born February 10, 1816 in New York. He briefly attended Oberlin College in Ohio, but about 1840 he assumed a public school teaching position in Cincinnati, where he also read law, graduated from the Cincinnati Law School, and was admitted to the bar.

In March 1855 Adams made the move to Kansas Territory, soon taking up residence in Leavenworth, and becoming deeply involved in the political struggles of is new home. He was elected under the Topeka Constitution to the first free-state legislature and was among the members of the Leavenworth party taken prisoner by Kickapoo rangers. Subsequently, Adams, who was considered a good orator, became the first free-state mayor of Leavenworth in spring 1857, chaired a committee of the 1858 legislature to investigate election fraud, was a delegate to the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention, and was nominated and elected governor under the Leavenworth Constitution in 1858. He narrowly missed nomination as Republican delegate to Congress in 1858 and was second only to Charles Robinson in support among Republican delegates for the gubernatorial nomination in 1859. In 1861, he was sent to Washington, D. C., as a delegate to the U.S. Peace Conference, and in 1868 he became a judge.

After his death June 2, 1870 in Waterville, Marshall County, a biographer wrote that Adams "will not soon be forgotten by any of the thousands who knew him well as one of the purest and noblest of the men of Kansas."

Adams' name is among those inscribed in Representative Hall on the walls of the House of Representatives in the Kansas State Capitol.

Entry: Adams, Henry J.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 1969

Date Modified: March 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.