President: John Quincy Adams

6th President of the United States, 1825-1829

Biographies Read: “Life and Public Services of John Quincy Adams, Sixth President of the Unity States.” by William Henry Seward. Published 1849.
“First Son and President” by Beverly Gherman.

Key Facts: Born July 11th, 1767 in Quincy, Massachusetts to Father John Adams (2nd President) and Mother Abigail Adams. Died on February 23rd, 1848. Attended Harvard College.

Notable Observations:

  • He was named after his great-grandfather who was present at his baptism, but dying. John Quincy’s grandfather was wealthy, respected, and at one point the speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
  • John Quincy was 8 years old when his father signed the Declaration of Independence.
  • He went with his father to Paris at age 11 where he attended school and associated with adults like Ben Franklin on a daily basis.
  • He later went to Amsterdam and studied at the University of Leyden.
  • In July 1781 (age 14) John Quincy was appointed private secretary to the Minister to Russia. For 14 months he worked in Russia and traveled without his father. He earned this job in part because of his French language skills which was spoken by the ruling class in Russia at the time. The Minister didn’t speak French.
  • John Quincy spent time with Jefferson while in France.
  • In 1785 (age 18) he returned to the United States and entered Cambridge University as a third year student. He was worried about leaving a distinguished school like the University of Leyden to go to an unknown small college in Massachusetts. Cambridge University is now known as Harvard University. He graduated with honors in 1788.
  • In this book (1849), Jefferson’s party is called the Democratic or Progressive Party (which believes in a small federal government) and Hamilton’s Party is called the Conservative or Federal Party (which believes in a big federal government).
  • Both of these parties had opposing loyalties towards either Brittan (Federal Party) or France (Democratic Party). John Quincy was the first to suggest neutrality in the hostilities. He belonged to the Federal Party, but was considered a Statesman since he often didn’t vote along party lines.
  • At age 27, John Quincy was made ambassador to the Hague by George Washington.
  • On July 26th, 1797 he married Louisa Catharine Johnson of Maryland. They then moved to Prussia where he served as ambassador. They remained married for more than half a century.
  • When John Adams was elected President he considered recalling John Quincy (his son) from service in the Hague because he worried he would be viewed as favoring his family. He wrote Washington for advice who responded “I give it as my decided opinion, that [John Quincy] is the most valuable public character we have abroad.”
  • In 1803 at age 36 he was elected to the US Senate by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • He was one of six senators to vote against the Louisiana Purchase (the two books contradict this point and may require more research on my part).
  • In 1805 he tried to pass a tax on slave imports through Congress. Besides his father, all other Presidents were slave owners to this point.
  • President Madison appointed John Quincy to the Supreme Court, Congress confirmed him, but he didn’t accept.
  • President Monroe appointed John Quincy to Secretary of State.
  • As Secretary of State, John Quincy was the only cabinet member to defend General Jackson in an incident that occurred fighting Indian Tribes in Florida (the owned by Spain).
  • He also lead negotiations with Spain which yielded East and West Florida.
  • South American providences started seeking independence from Spain during this time, a move that John Quincy reluctantly supported. He supported freedom, but feared that South American people lacked the intelligence to sustain self-government.
  • John Quincy was against the US helping the in the Greek Revolution because he felt the US departing from the Neutrality policy would open the doors for foreign entanglements and endless conflicts that would result in “standing armies, immense nation debts, and the long trail of evils of which they are the prolific source.”
  • On Feb 9th, 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected President by the House of Representatives. General Jackson, William Crawford, and himself has all failed to achieve enough electoral votes to win. Jackson received the most, but congress selected Adams. This concerned him, but he couldn’t refuse. His only other option was to resign and make the Vice President (John Calhoun) President. As such, he reluctantly accepted.
  • The Democratic Party (Jefferson’s small government party) won most seats in congress and resisted every policy he tried to implement.
  • After he lost re-election to Andrew Jackson, he was elected to Congress where he served until his death.
  • While serving in Congress during the years of 1836 to 1837, John Quincy repeatedly put forth resolutions for the abolishment of slavery. A committee was raised to find a way to stop him with NH, SC, OH, KY, GA, PA, VA, and NY representatives voting to ban all considerations related to slavery. It was passed by a large majority causing Adams to state “I hold the resolution to be a direct violation of the Constitution” and he continued to press the issue through various creative methods.
  • At the age of 74, John Quincy argued in the Supreme Court for a group of kidnapped Africans forced into slavery that had by accident found their way to Long Island when they overtook the boat and murdered most of their captors. He won the case.
  • John Quincy died in the Capitol Building during a session of Congress.
  • He taught rhetoric and oratory at Harvard.
  • His kids were George Washington Adams, John Adams II, Charles Francis Adams, and Louisa Catherine Adams. Louisa died when she was one.
  • Son George Washington Adams committed suicide on April 30th, 1829.
  • Son John II died October 23rd. He was an Alcoholic.
  • He wrote a paper arguing for the adoption of the metric system.
  • Using a half million dollars in gold left to the country by James Smithson, John Quincy founded the Smithsonian Institute.

This was the most interesting biography to date due to its age. Written in 1849 by someone that actually knew John Quincy, it gave interesting insight into the time period. Also, it was written without any of the knowledge of events that would occur such as the Civil War.

-Casey Richards
April 20th, 2018

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