Henry Brooks Adams was an American historian and member of the Adams political family, being descended from two U.S. Presidents.
As a young Harvard graduate, he was secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams, Abraham Lincoln’s ambassador in London, a posting that had much influence on the younger man, both through experience of wartime diplomacy and absorption in English culture, especially the works of John Stuart Mill. After the American Civil War, he became a noted political journalist who entertained America’s foremost intellectuals at his homes in Washington and Boston.
In his lifetime, he was best known for his History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, a 9-volume work, praised for its literary style.
His posthumously published memoirs, The Education of Henry Adams, won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to be named by the Modern Library as the top English-language nonfiction book of the 20th century.
The national historical park's eleven buildings tell the story of five generations of the Adams family (from 1720 to 1927) including Presidents, First Ladies, U.S. Ministers, historians, writers, and family members who supported and contributed to their success. In addition to Peacefield, home to four generations of the Adams family, the park's main historic features include the John Adams Birthplace (October 30, 1735), the nearby John Quincy Adams Birthplace (July 11, 1767), and the Stone Library (built in 1870 to house the books of John Quincy Adams and believed to be the first presidential library), containing more than 14,000 historic volumes in 12 languages.
There is an off-site Visitors Center less than a mile (1.6 km) away. Regularly scheduled tours of the houses are offered in season (April 19 to November 10), by guided tour only, using a tourist trolley provided by the Park Service between sites. Access to United First Parish Church, where the Adamses worshipped and are buried, is provided by the congregation for which they ask a small donation. The church is across the street from the Visitors Center.