J o h n Q u i n c y A d a m s
(1767 - 1848)

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

John Quincy Adams was the first son of a U.S. President who became a President.
He was the son of Abigail and John Adams, the second President of the United States.
No President was ever better prepared to fill the office than John Quincy Adams.

Early Life
JQA's birthplace in Braintree, Massachusetts
John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusettson July 11, 1767. He was born just two days before Abigail's grandfather, Colonal John Quincy died, so he was named John Quincy Adams in her grandfather's honor. He received his early education primarily from the examples of his father and mother, who taught him to be a true patriot of America. When John Adams was in Philadelphia for the second continental Congress, he wrote to Abigail of their duties as parents to raise and educate a new and fervent generation of Americans. John wrote: "Let us teach them not only to do virtuously, but to excel. To excel, they must be taught to be steady, active, and industrious." The proud parents obviously excelled in their purpose.

In the winter of his tenth year, John Quincy learned valuable international experience when he accompanied his father on a dangerous voyage to France to negotiate for peace with Great Britain. He perfected French a few months later in America by teaching English to the new French Minister to the United States. In 1780 when he and his father went back to Europe for the second time, John Quincy traveled to Holland to attend Leyden University. While he had so far been a spectator of the events shaping history around him, his mother wrote him a letter that urged him to actively take part in the development of it.
He received his chance in 1781 when he accompanied Francis Dana, appointed by the Continental Congress as the U.S. Minister to Russia, as a secretary and interpreter of French. Young Adams returned to France in 1783, just in time to serve as an additional secretary to the U.S. commissioners in the negotiation of the Treaty of Paris.

The next year, Adams returned to America to study at Harvard University in order to become an attorney as his father was. After his graduation in 1787, he studied at Newburyport, Massachusetts under the tutelage of Theophilus Parsons. Three years later, he moved to Boston to formally become a practicing attorney.

Before his Presidency
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams

President Washington took interest in Adams when he published articles in the Boston newspaper defending Washington's firm belief of neutrality against the persuasions of the new French Republic's minister to the U.S. (Genet) to aid France in its war against England in 1790. At age 26, Adams was then appointed by Washington as the U.S. Minister to the Holland from 1797, a position he held until 1797 when the new President Adams appointed his son as U.S. Minister to Prussia. That year, on July 26, 1797, he married Louisa Catherine Johnson. Louisa was a perfect match for John Quincy, for her charm and warmth offset her husband's cold and serious manner. After their wedding, John Quincy and his bride traveled to Prussia with the intent of improving its relations with the U.S., and achieved a Treaty of Amity and Commerce at Berlin in 1799. John Adams brought his son back home when he lost the election to Thomas Jeffersonin 1800. A year after John Quincy returned to Massachusetts in 1801, he was elected to the Mass. Senate. The year after that, the Mass. Senate elected him as a member of the United States Senate.

As a U.S. Senator, Adams approved of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, agreed with the policies of Thomas Jefferson's Secretary of State, James Madison, and bravely supported Jefferson's Embargo Act in 1807 because he felt it was the best way to convince Britain to give respect for American maritime rights. His last act gained him the Republican Party's favor, hostility from the Federalists, and a place in John F. Kennedy's book Profiles in Courage, 150 years later. Adams resigned on June 3, 1808 when sectionalist politicians recalled him by electing a successor to replace him two years ahead of time. Adams was Boylston professor of oratory and rhetoric at Harvard University from 1806 to 1809.

In 1809, Adams was appointed by President Madison as the first United States Minister to Russia, and England fell behind the U.S. as Russia's leading trading partner. Then, the War of 1812 broke out in America against Britain. Adams became the chief of the American mission at the peace negotiations in Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. His last act as a diplomat was serving for two years as U.S. Minister to England. Then, he became Secretary of State under President Monroe when he returned to the U.S in 1817 until 1825.
external image Adams_onis_map.png
One of his greatest diplomatic achievements as the Secretary of State are the negotiations between the U.S. and Great Britain, which left a peaceful r elation between the two countries. However, the most greatest achievement was the Adams-Onis Treaty signed on February 22, 1819 that bought East and West Florida from Spain by the U.S., and agreed on a border line from the Gulf of Mexico to the Rocky Mountains along the parallel of 42 degrees to the Pacific Ocean. This purchase has been called "the greatest diplomatic victory ever won by a single individual in the history of the United States." Another accomplishment by Adams was the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which was an attempt by the U.S. to warn and resist European efforts to put a stop to independence in the New World. His legacy left him a title as one of the United States' best Secretaries of State.

President of the Nation

In 1824, as President Monoe's presidency came to an end, five men were present as candidates: Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford, Speaker of the House Henry Clay, and General Andrew Jackson. Calhoun almost immediately put himself out of the race by accepting the vice president nomination, but none of the four remaining received a majority of electoral votes. Andrew Jackson received 99, Adams 84, Crawford 41, and Clay 37. The House of Representatives were called on to make the final decision, and the top three candidates were put into the race.


Clay, who preferred Adams to Jackson, performed his influence and gave Adams the seat of Presidency on the first ballot. Clay was offered the position of Secretary of State by Adams, and the two leaders respected, as well as shared the same nationalistic views, as each other. Jackson's supporters were furious with the turn of events, proposing a charge of "bargain and corruption" which the two denied. The followers rejected and opposed Adams in every way possible, making Adams' debut in the office a stirring event.

Adams was a very ambitious President. He was even considered to be unrealistic for 1820's America, though his proposals contributed greatly to the advancement of America as a renouned nation. His ideas were greeted with scorn and ridicule, and viewed by the Americans as efforts to enlarge governmental power under his control, destroy the state and local governments, and neglect the common people. He gave his first speech in December of 1825 of his visions for the U.S. saying: "The great object of the institution of civil government, is the improvement of the condition of those who are parties to the social contract."

Adams established a national university and a national naval academy to train wise and patriotic leadership of the next generation. He also created canals and turnpikes mainly paid by higher revenues from the Western land sales. Adams viewed American involvement in worldwide efforts for "the common improvement of the species" important. He created the patent system to encourage enterprise and invention. He advocated an extensive survey of America's coasts, land and resources. Also, an astronomical lab was built, in hopes of contributing to the knowledge accumulated by the 130 labs in Europe.

Quincy, MA
On July 4, 1926 John Adams died,leaving John Quincy more alone in his political life than ever. It was then that he faced his hardest time in office, thanks to the Jacksonians. They gained control of both the House of Representatives and Congress, and from then on, Adams' presidency went downhill. Adams refused to use political parties to his advantage, but the Jacksonians saw it as an instrument to gain national power. Jackson had gained a 178 to 83 victory in the electoral college and had a 647,276-508,064 margin in the popular vote. This bitter defeat in the race for presidency was made more prominent by the death of his oldest son, George Washington Adams. At that time, John Quincy Adams was virtually penniless, grieving over the death of his son, and believing his political career to be over when he retired to Quincy, MA.

The Return of John Quincy Adams

The greatest phase of his long career happened while he was reseated in Congress as a member of the House of Representatives from 1831 until his death in 1848. During this time, he devoted most of his efforts in apposing the expansion of slavery, especially the "gag rule," a resolution made by the Southern members of Congress to extinguish any attempts of slavery discussion. Adams argued that this rule was a direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Little by little, the majority votes against him decreased until the motion to repeal the gag rule was passed by a vote of 108 to 80 in 1844. Another spectacular accomplishment by Adams was the freeing of the Africans of the slave ship Amistad. These Africans bravely managed to escape from Spanish slave merchants who were going to sell them as slaves, and landed near Long Island, NY. Adams defended these people in 1841 before the Supreme Court, and sent them free. He also pursued his love of science with two other significant accomplishments: the building of an observatory in Cincinnati in 1844 and the grant to the Smithsonian Institution, the earliest American foundation for scientific research. He had a stroke the same year, then had a second stroke on February 21, 1849 that sent him to death in the Capitol building two days later.

His Legacy

John Quincy Adams' 70 years of public service as a leader for the young U.S. made him one of the most influential contributors to the strengthening of the nation. He was a diplomat, an attorney, a Congressman, a professor, and a President. He was born and raised up as a patriot who saw the baby steps of the country, and he even died while working for the nation. Adams got the Floridas together for the U.S., he established the first national naval academy as well as the first national university, he established the transportation systems like canals and turnpikes, and he strengthened America's relations with many countries. He was also a patron of the sciences for America, and created the patent system, the first astronomical lab, surveyed the land for resources, built an observatory, and supported the Smithsonian Institution. Then, in his last years, he strived to secure the freedom for all in the nation, specifically Africans. He lifted the gag rule from Congress, making it possible for future talks of slavery and African-American rights, and also freed the Africans of the ship Amistad by becoming their personal lawyer. Adams was the father of education, sciences, foreign relations, and freedom in the United States. He was the symbol of national patriotism, as he continued, throughout his entire life, to strive for the better of the country. His motto was national not federal, and acted on his visions for America in and out of his presidency. He gave his all in all of his careers as diplomat, attorney, Congressman, professor, and President for the strengthening of the U.S. as a recognized nation. His last words were:
"This is the last of earth! I am content."
John Quincy Adams' Gravesite

"Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air."
-John Quincy Adams