Member Biography

Robert Adams Jr

Sessions Office Position District Party
1883-1884       6 Republican
1885-1886       6 Republican

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


02/26/1849 - 06/01/1906

 Robert, Adams, Jr. (R6) Philadelphia County 1883-1886

Early Life: 

Robert, Adams, Jr., born February 26, 1849, Philadelphia Pennsylvania; son of Robert and Matilda Maybin Hart; attended, Doctor Fairies Physical Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; graduated, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1869; graduated, Wharton School of Economy and Finance, University of Pennsylvania, member Saint Anthony Hall, 1884; studied law; admitted, Philadelphia bar, 1872, never practiced; member, United States Geological Survey, explorations, Yellowstone Park 1871-1875; member, First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry; Major and Judge Advocate, Pennsylvania National Guard, First Brigade, 1881-1895; Lieutenant Colonel, aide de camp for Governor James A. Beaver, 1885; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1883-1886; appointed, United States Minister, Brazil, 1889-1890, resigned; elected, Republican, Fifty-third Congress, vacancy, death, Charles O'Neill; reelected, Fifty-fourth thru Fifty-ninth Congresses 1893-1906; died, suicide, gunshot, June 1, 1906, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; interment, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

Professional titles; business ownership; board memberships; local government; club memberships:

Elected, member, following Societies: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Society of the Cincinnati, Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, Society of the War of 1812 and Society of Colonial Wars.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 6th district, Philadelphia County, 1883-1886, member Banks, Judiciary Special, Library and Military Affairs Committees.                                                                              

Continued Government Service/National Politics:

Appointed, United States Minister, Brazil, 1889-1890, resigned.

Elected, Republican, 53rd Congress, vacancy, death, Charles O'Neill, (1893–1895); reelected, 54th (1895–1897), 55th (1897–1899), 56th (1899–1901), 57th (1901–1903), 58th (1903–1905), 59th (1905–1907).


On April 10, 1880, Adams participated in a duel against Dr. James William White. Both Adams and White were members of First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry; White wanted permission to wear the distinctive uniform of the Troop while he saw patients. Adams criticized White, and soon the two agreed to duel. They traveled to Maryland for the affair of honor. Both men fired at 15 paces, but neither man struck his mark and the affair ended without injury. At a meeting years later, Adams asked White, "You fired in the air, didn't you?" White said he did. Adams responded, "I didn't. I fired at you.  (i)

In the Fifty-fifth Congress as acting chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Adams reported, conducted through the House and had had charge of, in conference with the Senate the Cuban resolution, and drafted, introduced, reported and passed through the House of Representatives in one hour the declaration of war against Spain. (iI)

Note found in chambers of the Metropolitan Club, 1708 H Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C. (ii)

Washington, D.C.  May, 31, 1901

Honorable J.G. Cannon

My Dear Mr. Speaker – The fact that my personal obligations exceed my resources is my only excuse for abandoning the responsible position I occupy in the House. I am willing to be buried at expense, but I ask that no committee be appointed or memorial service held, as I have never been in sympathy with latter custom.

With assurances of my high regard,


Robert Adams Jr.   


Smull’s Legislative Hand Book, (1885) Smull, J.A., Biographical Sketches of Senators, page 807, 849-851.

  1. "1880: Philly surgeon and soldier duel with pistols over fashion statement"

  2. Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) Saturday, June 2, 1906, Page 1


Congressional Biography

After 2 session(s) serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Robert Adams Jr went on to serve in congress