JOHN M. ADAMS, the able editor of the Eastern Argus and Nestor of Maine Journalism,
was born in Rumford, Me., September 22, 1819. Bereft of a father's care in his youth, he was compelled, while yet
in tender years, to largely look out for himself, receiving from a widowed mother, who was left with five children
to care for, only such aid, support, and instruction as she with her many other cares and responsibilities was
able to give him.
Faithful in his filial love, the first five years after his father's death were devoted to assisting in the work
of the farm. When he was about fifteen years of age he received from a relative, who was a student of Bowdoin College,
such instruction as the young man was able to give outside of his college studies. This proved exceedingly valuable.
It created a thirst for learning, which he and his mother resolved to have gratified. The next autumn he attended
school at Turner and the next summer at Bridgton Academy, and the following autumn at Bethel, in which town he
taught school the next winter.
In 1838 the troubles over the northeastern boundary question were becoming serious, and young Adams, in a spirit
of adventure and a desire to see the new country, volunteered as a soldier in the "Aroostook War," as
it was then called, being an Orderly Sergeant. The disputes were soon settled, and the soldiers were discharged
after a month's service, never having gone further than Augusta on their way to the scene of strife.
His relative and former J3owdoin instructor, having gone to Maryland, wrote John that there was an opening for
a teacher in an academy near where he was residing, and the young man, when only nineteen years of age, resolved
to accept the offer. Then the facilities for travel were few. He was two days traveling from Rumford to Portland,
and six days in reaching Maryland. Here he found a fine opportunity. He taught two years most successfully, receiving
the princely sum of $4oo a year, with board at one dollar a week in one of the wealthiest families of the place.
His time outside of the school room was spent in study and preparation for higher service.
In December he was called home by the death of a brother, and though strongly urged to return to Maryland he concluded
not to do so. Having abandoned the idea of going to college, mainly because two years were required to be devoted
to the study of Greek, which he considered unprofitable, he took a two years' course at Gorham Seminary. Desiring
to acquire the French language, be attended the college at St. Hvacinthe, Canada, where he was a student about
ten months. The president of the college secured him board in the famous Papineau family, who were wealthy and
cultured people. This admitted him to the best society, where the French language was spoken in its purity. He
soon became able to speak like a Parisian.
Returning to Maine, he began in the spring of 1844 to study law in the office of Fessenden & Deblois. He also
taught a class in French at Packard's school, the principal of which was a brother of Professor Packard, of Bowdoin.
That fall he attended a meeting of prominent citizens, including John A. Poor, to consider the question of building
a railroad to Montreal. That was the inception of that great enterprise in which he afterward took an active interest,
four years after becoming the law partner of its chief promoter, John A. Poor.
In 1850-1 be made an extensive tour of Europe and acted as correspondent of the Railroad Journal of New York, writing
chiefly of the railroad systems of Europe. On his return he was appointed on the staff of Governor Hubbard, whose
election he had earnestly advncated before his departure.
In 1855 he edited the Argus for John Appleton, who was Secretary of Legation at London, and in 1856 was appointed
Reporter of Decisions by Governor Wells, and edited Volumes XLI and XLII of the Maine Reports.
The next year he formed a law partnership with Nathan Clifford, which was very congenial to both parties, and which
continued until Mr. Clifford was appointed to the United States Supreme Bench, January 12, 1858. About this time
Mr. Adams was elected editor of the Eastern Argus much against his will, as he preferred the practice of law, at
which he had been successful, to editorial work, but was finally persuaded to accept the place through the advice
of friends, whose opinions he did not wish to disregard. After a time he acquired a half interest in the paper,
and in 1866 became the sole owner.
Mr. Adams has been editor of the paper for more than thirty-six years, during all of which time it has been an
able and outspoken advocate of Jeffersonian Democracy, to support which it was established in 1803. The Argus never
gives out any uncertain sound. It is true to its principles and is ready to defend them at all times. Of late years
much attention has been given to the news department of the paper, and it now ranks as the leading newspaper of
In 1877-8 Mr. Adams was elected to the Legislature at Augusta, serving both terms on the Finance Committee. The
second year he was nominated by his party for Speaker of the House and received every Democratic vote. He was one
of the originators of the Maine Press Association, in which he takes great interest. He is usually the leading
spirit both in its summer excursions and winter reunions, and always entertains his editorial brethren with great
Mr. Adams is universally popular wherever known. Being cordial, courteous, and genial in manners, he wins friends
everywhere. In business and social life his honesty of purpose, lofty character, and his kind and gentle nature
have won him admirers and warm, personal friends among all classes with whom he associates. He is justly held in
the highest respect and esteem in the community in which he resides and in the fraternity of which he is an honored
and brilliant member. In his party, the principles of which he espoused in his young manhood and which he loves
so well, he has been a conscientious and constant worker for more than fifty years. In its councils his good judgment
and wisdom have great weight, while his sagacity as a leader is widely recognized.