Adams, Charles Francis, second son of Charles Francis and Abigail Brown (Brooks) Adams, was born in Boston, May 27, 1835.
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He entered Harvard College in 1852, and graduated in 1856. Choosing the law for his profession, he entered, as a student, the office of Richard H. Dana, Jr., of Boston. He was admitted to the bar May 7 1858. In February 1860, he was admitted to practice at the bar of the United States Supreme Court. The same year he resigned his military commission which he held as adjutant of the 2d regiment, M. V. M., with rank of Lieutenant. Later, he took a trip through the West in company with Senator Seward, during which he contribute to the New York papers several articles upon the political prospects of that region.
In December, 1861, he was commissioned as first lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts cavalry, and received his commission as captain in October, 1862. He participated in all the actions of his command, and was on every march during the war. In January 1864, the company which he commanded – company D – re-enlisted as a company, and came home on a furlough under his command. They were publicly received in Boston, January 23, with an escort, and were welcomed in Faneuil Hall with speeches from the governor and other representative men. He was finally mustered out of the service July 1865, with the brevet rank of brigadier-general of volunteers.
He has since devoted his attention chiefly to railroad matters. In 1869 he was appointed a member of the board of railroad commissioners, and performed conspicuous service for ten consecutive years, the last two, ’78 and ’79, serving as chairman of the board. His reports attracted much attention, not only in the state but throughout the country, and he speedily became recognized as authority on matters relating to construction, maintenance, and management of railway lines.
In 1871, in connection with his brother Henry, an author, he published “Chapters of Erie and other Essays.” In 1882 he was elected a member of the board of overseers of Harvard College, and in 1884 was chosen president of the Union Pacific Railway, since which time he has given undivided attention to the management of this important trunk line; and while in some quarters it has been severely criticized, yet the general verdict has been that the trust has been executed with rare fidelity, unquestioned integrity, and with remarkable success.
The Adams family has long been conspicuously influential, not only in state but in national affairs. From the time when Henry Adams received a grant of land in Braintree in 1636, and came over from Devonshire, England, with his eight sons to enter upon his possessions, there has not been a weak link in the brilliant chain of illustrious and remarkable men—men who have left their impress for good upon legislation, upon diplomacy, upon all that has tended to give character and strength to our cherished institutions.
Mr. Adams was married in Newport, R. I., Nov. 8, 1865, to Mary, daughter of E. and C. Ogden. Their children are; Mary, Louisa C., Elizabeth, John and Henry Adams.