The United States Congress created the Adams Memorial Foundation on November 5, 2001. The foundation was authorized to raise private funds to construct a memorial on federal land in Washington, D.C.. Once established, the memorial would be turned over to the federal government. On December 2, 2002, Congress amended this legislation to permit the Adams Memorial to be constructed within "Area 1", the central core of the District of Columbia centered on the National Mall.
The Commemorative Works Clarification and Revision Act of 2003 (CWCRA), however, gave the Adams Memorial Foundation and other memorial efforts then under way just seven years to raise the funds and begin construction. With the memorial foundation short of funds, Congress passed legislation on October 30, 2009, giving the Adams Memorial effort until September 30, 2010, to complete its fundraising. On December 2, 2009, Congress passed legislation applying the CWCRA to the Adams Memorial, although the clock began running with passage of the Area I authorization. Congress extended the deadline for fund-raising yet again on May 24, 2010, giving the memorial until December 2, 2013, to finish its efforts.
Authorization for the Adams Memorial expired on December 2, 2013, without a memorial having begun construction.