At age 16, Adams earned a scholarship to attend Harvard University, where he developed an interest in law, despite his father's wish for him to enter the ministry. After graduating in 1755, at age 20, Adams studied law in the office of John Putnam, a prominent lawyer. In 1758, he earned a master's degree from Harvard and was admitted to the bar.
Political Career Adams quickly became identified with the patriot cause, initially as the result of his opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765. He wrote a response to the imposition of the act by British Parliament titled "Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law," which was published as a series of four articles in the Boston Gazette. In it, Adams argued that the Stamp Act deprived American colonists of the basic rights to be taxed by consent and to be tried by a jury of peers. Two months later Adams also publicly denounced the act as invalid in a speech delivered to the Massachusetts governor and his council. In 1770 Adams agreed to represent the British soldiers on trial for killing five civilians in what became known as the Boston Massacre. He justified defending the soldiers on the grounds that the facts of a case were more important to him than the passionate inclinations of the people. He believed that every person deserved a defense, and he took the case without hesitation. During the trial Adams presented evidence that suggested blame also lay with the mob that had gathered, and that the first soldier who fired upon the crowd was simply responding the way anyone would when faced with a similar