Paul L. Adams

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Paul L. Adams (April 9, 1908–November 23, 1990) was an American lawyer, politician, and judge from Michigan.[1] He served as a mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, as a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, as Michigan Attorney General, and as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.[1]

Early life and education

Adams was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, on April 9, 1908.[1] His family had been farmers in the area since 1897, but by the early 1900s had shifted to insurance and real estate.[1] Adams graduated Sault High School in 1926. He received his B.A. in 1930 and M.A. in 1931 from the University of Michigan.[1][2]

Adams returned to his family business for three years, then entered the University of Michigan Law School.[1] He earned his LL.B. in 1936 and was admitted to the bar the same year.[1][2] While in law school, he became friends with G. Mennen Williams and others who became prominent in Michigan politics.[1] Also while in law school, Adams married Ruth Karpinski, daughter of the University of Michigan mathematician Louis Charles Karpinski.[1]


Adams returned to Sault Ste. Marie, where he practiced law and served in various civic roles.[1][2] He was mayor from 1938 to 1942.[1] From 1941 to 1943, during World War II, he served as director of civil defense in Sault Ste. Marie.[1] From 1943-1944, Adams served with the Board of Economic Warfare in Washington, D.C.; he then returned to Sault Ste. Marie.[2] In 1949, Adams served as a member of the Michigan Social Welfare Commission. In 1950, he served as chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Charter Commission.[2]

In 1956, Adams was elected a member of the University of Michigan Board of Regents.[1] He served until the following year, when Governor G. Mennen Williams appointed to fill an unexpired term as Michigan Attorney General.[1][2] Adams was elected twice as attorney general in his own right (in 1958 and 1960).[1][2] He left the position after Governor John Swainson appointed Adams in December 1961 to serve on the Michigan Supreme Court.[1][2] Adams left the court later that year but returned in 1964 and served on the court until his retirement in 1973.[1] Thereafter, he spent his time in Clinton County, Michigan, where he had orchards.[1] Adams died on November 23, 1990.[1] He was survived by his wife Ruth and four daughters.[1]

Adams' papers are archived at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.[2]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Biography from the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Finding aid for Paul L. Adams Papers, 1924-1976, Michigan Historical Collections, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.