|Full Name||Adam Cartwright|
|Family|| Abel Stoddard† (grandfather) |
Ben Cartwright (father)
|Romances|| (romances below)
Laura Dayton (former fiancée)
Ruth Halvorsen (former fiancée)
|Children|| A. J. Cartwright |
|First Episode|| A Rose for Lotta|
|Last Episode|| To Own The World|
|Portrayed by|| Pernell Roberts|
Adam Cartwright was born in the year 1830 in New England. to Ben and Elizabeth (Stoddard) Cartwright. He is good with a gun, mature and responsible. In Ben's absence, Adam is generally looked upon for important decision making by his two younger brothers, Hoss and Little Joe.
Adam is the eldest of the Cartwright sons and serves as the right hand of his father, Ben in managing the "Ponderosa;" the Cartwright family home and ranch. Adam is a secondary parental/authority figure and is several years older than his brothers in particular Little Joe. In "A Rose for Lotta" Ben told Adam (regarding Little Joe), "He's a '''BOY,'''not a ''MAN'', like ''YOU''." Later, when Adam confronted Joe regarding carrying out his tasks; he handled him in an almost "fatherly" fashion by chastising him, grabbing his arm and demanding that Joe "Stand still when I'm talking to you!" After they fought, Joe extended an olive branch and said to Adam "I'm sorry I RAISED my hand to YOU," a statement acknowledging his regard of Adam as an authority figure. Joe commonly refers to Adam as "Older Brother,''' a title he does not assign to Hoss.
In "A House Divided" Joe told Adam that as far back as he could remember, Adam was always able to stay up later and always helped Ben handle Ponderosa business because he was "grown up". In "The Julia Bulette Story", Joe told Ben that he remembered hearing him and Adam discussing places that Ben and Marie couldn't go. Ben seems to trust Adam completely and discuss serious matters with him. A In "The Tin Badge", both Hoss and Adam teased Joe in a way that conveyed that they thought Joe was just a little kid trying to take on a man's responsibility. Both Adam and Hoss were protective of him and always looked at him as their baby brother. He was not viewed as their peer; a fact that Joe struggled with and rebelled against.Adam is an intelligent, open-minded and educated person who shares many interests like reading, singing and playing the guitar. He studied architecture and makes it a practice to apply his knowledge and skills on the Ponderosa. Adam is the "spoilsport" of the Ponderosa; at times appearing grim and cynical. He hates using his gun though he's forced to do in self defense. Adam occasionally expresses annoyance with the primitive ways of the West and has commented that he longs to be among civilized society and not "savages." He is progressive and an entrepreneur; always looking for an opportunity to improve himself and his surroundings. Perhaps this is what led him away from the Ponderosa in the years to come.
Although Adam has been involved in serious relationships; it is indicated that he struggles with commitment. On the episode "The Sisters," Ben asked Adam how serious he was about Sue Ellen Terry to which he replied "I don't know." On "Bitter Water", Hoss teased Adam for dating Virginia Keith for 3 years and that "now" Tod (McKaren) is marrying her. He went on to remark that Adam was a slow worker. On "The Pressure Game," Adam clearly struggled with making a commitment to Laura Dayton and even after proposing, on "Triangle," Adam neglected Laura during their engagement and allowed other business affairs to prevent him from attending his own engagement party. He was secretly building a house for Laura, but he later admitted that he knew marriage wouldn't work with Laura and gave his blessing to his cousin, Will Cartwright, to marry her instead.
Adam's age is estimated to be in his early thirties. "A Rose for Lotta" was set in 1861; that would place him around 30 or 31 in the first season. Based on dialogue with his family and friends; he was clearly an experienced, astute business man. Adam is roughly 6 years older than Hoss (Ben met Inger, Hoss's mother when Adam was 5). Hoss is estimated to be 6 years older than Joe. This leads to the conclusion that Hoss is in his mid-20s and Little Joe about 18 years which seems to fit with Adam's estimated age. He is significantly older than Joe who he would refer to as "The Kid" or "Baby son".
Adam was the firstborn son of Ben Cartwright and his first wife, Elizabeth Stoddard. Sadly, Elizabeth died within hours of Adam's birth. Ben took his infant son and headed West to fulfill a promise he had made to his late wife. They traveled through Ohio and Illinois where Ben met and married his second wife, Inger Cartwright. Adam and Inger quickly bonded. Adam was 5 years old.
Ben, Inger and Adam continued their journey; leading a track through Missouri and Nebraska. Inger soon gave birth to Eric "Hoss" Cartwright making Adam a big brother. During an Indian attack; Adam witnessed Inger fall to her death; Adam was likely 6 at this time. Ben then traveled through California and finally settled in Nevada; where Ben began to build the Ponderosa for himself and his two sons. On a trip to New Orleans, Ben met and wed his third wife Marie Cartwright. Soon thereafter, Joseph Cartwright was born. Adam was likely between 12 and 13 at this time. .
At the age of eighteen (presumably) Adam left home for college; majoring in architecture and engineering. He is often credited with the design of the Ponderosa home. The location of the college Adam attended is unknown. On the episode "My Brother's Keeper" Adam confirmed that he went to school "back east." He is the only Cartwright son credited with a secular education.
Adam left the Ponderosa to live on his own, but his exact location was never specified. While there have been many speculations; it is widely believed that he settled in Europe. This is largely attributed to sporadic references to Adam during the years following his departure; most notably from Little Joe. Little Joe received a letter from his brother stating "Adam was having a nice, cold winter in Paris". However, it is unknown if Adam was merely visiting or residing. Other references were more vague. In "The Brass Box" Ben tells Jose Ortega that he could use another hand while his son Adam was "away."
Adam married an unknown woman and would later have a son named A.J.