Melvin O. Adams

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Melvin O. Adams
United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by Henry P. Moulton
Succeeded by Asa P. French
Personal details
Born (1847-11-07)November 7, 1847[1]
Ashburnham, Massachusetts[1]
Died August 9, 1920(1920-08-09) (aged 72)[1]
Boston, Massachusetts[2]
Resting place Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery
Ashburnham, Massachusetts[1]
Nationality American
Political party Republican[1]
Spouse(s) Mary Colony[1]
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Occupation Attorney
Railroad executive

Melvin Ohio Adams (November 7, 1847, Ashburnham, Massachusetts – August 9, 1920, Boston, Massachusetts[2]) was an American attorney and railroad executive who was part of Lizzie Borden's legal defense team, the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 1905 to 1906, and the President of the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad.[1]

Early life[edit]

Adams was born on November 7, 1847 to Joseph Adams and Dolly Winship (Whitney) Adams. He attended school in his native Ashburnham, Massachusetts as well as the Appleton Academy in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. In 1871 he graduated from Dartmouth College. After graduation worked as a teacher in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and studied law in the office of Amasa Norcross.[3] On January 20, 1874 he married Mary Colony of Fitchburg.[1][3] From 1874 to 1876 he served as Ashburnham's Town Moderator.[4]

Legal career[edit]

In 1875 Adams graduated from the Boston University School of Law. He was admitted to the bar that year and was soon thereafter became an Assistant District Attorney for Suffolk County, Massachusetts. In 1886, Adams resigned his position to go into private practice with Augustus Russ. Adams and Russ remained partners until Russ' death in the summer of 1892.[3]

In 1892, Adams was retained by Andrew V. Jennings to serve as the associate defense counsel for Lizzie Borden, a Fall River, Massachusetts woman accused of killing her father and stepmother with a hatchet. After a much-publicized trial, Borden was acquitted on June 20, 1893.[5][6]

An active member of the Massachusetts Republican Party, Adams served on the staff of Governor John Q. A. Brackett.[3]

In 1905, Adams was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. He remained a U.S. Attorney until his resignation on December 5, 1906.[7]

Business career[edit]

In 1890 Adams joined the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad as a director and general counsel. From 1891 until his death in 1920 he was the railroad's President.[2]

Adams was also the vice-president of the Liberty Trust Company.[1]


Adams served on the Board of Trustees of Dartmouth College[1] and the Perkins School for the Blind.[8] He was instrumental in securing the funds necessary to rebuild of Dartmouth Hall.[9]


Adams died on August 9, 1920 at his home in Boston, Massachusetts.[2] He was buried in the Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery in Ashburnham.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Adams, Melvin Ohio (1847–1920)". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d The Railway Review 67. July–December 1920. 
  3. ^ a b c d Davis, William Thomas (1895). Bench and bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Boston History Company. p. 500. 
  4. ^ Stearns, Ezra Scollay (1887). History of Ashburnham, Massachusetts, from the grant of Dorchester Canada to the present time, 1734–1886: with a genealogical register of Ashburnham families. Ashburnham, Massachusetts: Town of Ashburnham, Massachusetts. p. 241. 
  5. ^ Kent, David (1992). The Lizzie Borden Sourcebook. Branden Books. ISBN 9780828319508. 
  6. ^ Sullivan, Robert (1975). Goodbye Lizzie Borden. Chatto & Windus. 
  7. ^ Law Notes, Volume 9. E. Thompson Co. 1906. p. 198. 
  8. ^ Report. Perkins School for the Blind. 
  9. ^ "I’ve heard the Dartmouth Hall is not the original building. When was it rebuilt and why?". Ask Dartmouth. Trustees of Dartmouth College. Retrieved 7 September 2011.