Adams was born in Boston, in 1838, the son of American diplomat Charles Francis Adams and grandson of President John Quincy Adams. Educated at Harvard, Adams worked in Washington, D.C., as his father's secretary before embarking on a career in journalism and later in teaching. A prominent American historian, he wrote several important historical works. Adams's autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams (1907), might be called the story of an education and the recovery from it, although the writer felt that he never in fact recovered. His earlier work, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (privately printed 1904, published 1913), a study of thirteenth-century unity, can readily be compared with the Education, a study of twentieth-century multiplicity that Adams believed makes education so destructive. Henry Adams wrote two novels, Esther (1884) and the earlier cutting satire on the U.S. government, Democracy: An American Novel (1880). In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt described Democracy as a novel that created a great furor among the educated incompetents and the pessimists generally and condemned it for what he considered "its superficial and rotten cleverness." Adams died in 1918.