Rank(s): Able Seaman
Dates of Service: 6/26/1812 - 7/9/1813
Adams’ date and place of birth are unknown.
Not a lot is known about the life of John Adams prior to his enlistment with the US Navy. However, he joined the crew of Constitution with the rank of an able seaman; this would have required him to have experience with extensive sea voyages and be well versed with the workings of a ship. So, it can be assumed that Adams had been working aboard ships for sometime before he had enlisted in the Navy.
Adams joined the USS Constitution ’s crew on June 26, 1812 in Annapolis, Maryland. His battle station was on the Main Top, but his watch section is unknown. As an able seaman, Adams was deeply involved in the everyday sailing of the ship. He took turns steering the ship, helped with routine maintenance, worked aloft to take in and make sail, and participated in the hundreds of other details associated with the helm and sails, among others, that were necessary to make the ship run efficiently. He was discharged on July 9, 1813.
The able seaman was the elite member of the crew. Having sailed for years “before the mast” on merchant vessels or worked his way up through the ranks in the navy, it was on him that the officers relied for the smooth operation of the ship. The traditional requirements for the seaman were that he be able to “hand (furl or take in a sail), reef (reduce a sail’s area), and steer,” but these were in fact the barest requirements for the seaman rating. In addition, they were expected to be familiar with nearly all aspects of shipboard labor. He had to be able to cast the sounding lead, be able to sew a sail with a palm and needle, and understand all parts of the rigging and the stowage of the hold. Furthermore, he had to know how to fight, as part of a gun crew or with small arms. It was from the ranks of the able seamen that the petty and warrant officers were drawn. The able seaman made $12.00 per month.
Battles and Engagements
While onboard the USS Constitution , Adams assisted in the victories over HMS Guerriere and Java and he was awarded $42.62 ½ and $42.30 in prize money for each victory respectively.
Adams’ date and place of death are unknown.