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Paul L. Adams (March 15, 1915 – July 28, 1984) was an American academic who served as president of Roberts Wesleyan College from 1974 to 1981. He also twice ran for Governor of New York as a Conservative Party candidate, recording some of the highest totals by a third-party candidate in state history.

Personal life and academic career[edit | edit source]

Adams was born in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania (on the outskirts of Pittsburgh). On the recommendation of Merlin G. Smith, a family friend who was the university's president, he briefly attended Roberts Wesleyan (then known as Chesbrough Seminary) as an undergraduate. However, Roberts Wesleyan only offered two-year degrees at that time, so Adams completed his undergraduate education at Greenville College (in Greenville, Illinois). He served in the United States Army during World War II, and then on his return did graduate work at the University of Rochester and Ohio State University. Adams returned to Roberts Wesleyan in 1950, as a member of the faculty. Initially a history and political science professor, he later became head of the social studies department and academic dean. He left in 1972 to become academic dean of Hillsdale College (in Hillsdale, Michigan), but returned to Roberts Wesleyan in 1974 as president, a position which he held until his retirement in 1981. Adams died of cancer at Genesee Hospital, Rochester, in July 1984, aged 69. A music scholarship was established in his name.[1] He had married Jean Parmerter in 1946, with whom he had three sons and a daughter.[2]

Politics[edit | edit source]

Previously enrolled as a Republican, in 1966 Adams left that party to run as the gubernatorial candidate of the Conservative Party of New York (which had only been founded in 1962 and contested a single previous statewide election). In a surprise result, Adams won 8.46% of the statewide vote,[3] which was the best result for a third-party candidate since 1944 (when Dean Alfange won 9.79%). Only Herbert London (Conservative Party, 1990, 20.40%) and Tom Golisano (Independence Party, 2002, 14.28%) have won more votes as a third-party candidate since then.[4] In several counties, Adams won over 10% of the vote, including a high of 18.73% in Richmond County. Most importantly, Adams beat the Liberal Party candidate, Franklin Roosevelt Jr., securing his party Row C on the state ballot for the next elections.[3]

Adams reprised his candidacy in 1970. He was included in debates alongside the Republican and Democratic candidates, Nelson Rockefeller and Arthur Goldberg, respectively.[5] TAdams predicted he would win "somewhere in excess of 700,000 votes and possibly a million", but in fact won 422,514 (7.03% of the total).[6] This was despite his Conservative colleague James L. Buckley winning a Senate election at the same time with over 40% of the vote.[7] Adams' father, Loyal L. Adams, died during the campaign.[8] T

Elections[edit | edit source]

New York gubernatorial election, 1966
Governor candidate Running Mate Party Popular Vote
Nelson A. Rockefeller Malcolm Wilson Republican 2,690,626 (44.61%)
Frank D. O'Connor Howard J. Samuels Democratic 2,298,363 (38.11%)
Paul L. Adams Kieran O'Doherty Conservative 513,023 (8.46%)
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. Donald S. Harrington Liberal 507,234 (8.41%)
Milton Herder Doris Ballantyne Socialist Labor 12,730 (0.21%)
Judith White Richard Garza Socialist Workers 12,506 (0.21%)
New York gubernatorial election, 1970
Governor candidate Running Mate Party Popular Vote
Nelson A. Rockefeller Malcolm Wilson Republican 3,151,432 (52.41%)
Arthur Goldberg Basil Paterson Democratic,
2,421,426 (40.27%)
Paul L. Adams Edward F. Leonard Conservative 422,514 (7.03%)
Rasheed Storey Grace Mora-Newman Communist 7,760 (0.13%)
Clifton DeBerry Jonathan Rothschild Socialist Workers 5,766 (0.10%)
Stephen Emery Arnold Babel Socialist Labor 3,963 (0.07%)

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Paul L. Adams, college president and gubernatorial hopeful, dies", Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), July 30, 1984.
  2. The Roberts Community Mourns the Loss of Jean Adams Morton - Former First Lady, Roberts Wesleyan College, April 9, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 NY Governor 1966
  4. NY Governor
  5. GOVERNOR, RIVALS ARGUE ON CHANGE IN ABORTION LAW , The New York Times, November 2, 1970.
  6. Adams Expects to Get At Least 700,000 Votes, The New York Times, October 31, 1970.
  7. NY Governor 1970
  8. Rev. Loyal L. Adams Dies; Candidate's Father, 89, The New York Times, September 10, 1970.

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