U.S Presidents — John Quincy Adams
Name: John Quincy Adams
President: # 6
Term Number(s): 10
Term Length: 4
Took Office: March 4, 1825
Left Office: March 4, 1829
Age when Elected: 57
Party: Democratic-Republican National Republican
Also Known As: "Old Man Eloquent"
Education: Leiden University, Harvard University
Occupation: Lawyer, Diplomat, Professor, U.S. senator, Secretary of State (under Monroe)
Other Governmental Position: United States Senator from Massachusetts; 8th United States Secretary of State; Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts's 8th, 11th, and 12th Districts; United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom; United States Ambassador to Russia; United States Ambassador to Prussia; United States Ambassador to the Netherlands; Member of the Massachusetts State Senate.
Military Service: none
Spouse(s): Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams (July 26, 1797)
Children: Louisa Adams, George Washington Adams, John Adams, Charles Francis Adams
Birthdate: July 11, 1767
Birthplace: Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts
Deathdate: February 23, 1848
Deathplace: Washington, D.C.
Age at Death: 80
Cause of Death: cerebral hemorrhage (stroke)
Place of Internment: Family crypt beneath the United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts
Election Year: 1824
Main Opponent: Andrew Jackson
Voter Participation: N/A
CABINET AND COURT APPOINTMENTS
Vice President: John C. Calhoun
Secretary of State: Henry Clay (1825–1829)
Secretary of the Treasury: Richard Rush (1825–1829)
Secretary of War: James Barbour (1825–1828), Peter B. Porter (1828–1829)
Secretary of the Navy: Samuel L. Southard (1825–1829)
Attorney General: William Wirt (1825–1829)
Supreme Court Assignments: Robert Trimble (1826)
After graduating from Harvard College, he became a lawyer. At age 26 he was appointed Minister to the Netherlands, then promoted to the Berlin Legation. In 1802 he was elected to the United States Senate. Six years later, President Madison appointed Adams Minister to Russia.
Serving under President Monroe, Adams was one of America's great Secretaries of State, arranging with England for the joint occupation of the Oregon country, obtaining from Spain the cession of the Floridas, and formulating with the president the Monroe Doctrine.
In the political tradition of the early 19th century, Adams as Secretary of State was considered the political heir to the presidency. But the old ways of choosing a President were giving way in 1824 before the clamor for a popular choice.
Within the one and only party—the Republican—sectionalism and factionalism were developing, and each section put up its own candidate for the presidency. Adams, the candidate of the North, fell behind General Andrew Jackson in both popular and electoral votes, but received more than William H. Crawford and Henry Clay. Since no candidate had a majority of electoral votes, the election was decided among the top three by the House of Representatives. Clay, who favored a program similar to that of Adams, threw his crucial support in the House to the New Englander.
Well aware that he would face hostility in Congress, Adams nevertheless proclaimed in his first Annual Message a spectacular national program. He proposed that the federal government bring the sections together with a network of highways and canals, and that it develop and conserve the public domain, using funds from the sale of public lands. In 1828, he broke ground for the 185-mile C & O Canal.
Adams also urged the United States to take a lead in the development of the arts and sciences through the establishment of a national university, the financing of scientific expeditions, and the erection of an observatory. His critics declared such measures transcended constitutional limitations.
The campaign of 1828, in which his Jacksonian opponents charged him with corruption and public plunder, was an ordeal Adams did not easily bear. After his defeat, he returned to Massachusetts, expecting to spend the remainder of his life enjoying his farm and his books.
Unexpectedly, in 1830, the Plymouth district elected him to the House of Representatives, and he served as a powerful leader for the remainder of his life. Above all, he fought against circumscription of civil liberties.
In 1836 southern Congressmen passed a "gag rule" providing that the House automatically table petitions against slavery. Adams tirelessly fought the rule for eight years until finally he obtained its repeal.
In 1848, John Quincy Adams collapsed on the floor of the House from a stroke and was carried to the Speaker's Room, where two days later he died. He was buried—as were his father, mother, and wife—at First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts. To the end, "Old Man Eloquent" had fought for what he considered right.
FIRST LADY'S BIOGRAPHY
A career diplomat at 27, accredited to the Netherlands, John Quincy developed his interest in charming 19-year-old Louisa when they met in London in 1794. Three years later they were married, and went to Berlin in course of duty. At the Prussian court she displayed the style and grace of a diplomat's lady; the ways of a Yankee farm community seemed strange indeed in 1801 when she first reached the country of which she was a citizen. Then began years divided among the family home in Quincy, Massachusetts; their house in Boston; and a political home in Washington, D.C. When the Johnsons had settled in the capital, Louisa felt more at home there than she ever did in New England.
Mrs. Adams left her two older sons in Massachusetts for education in 1809 when she took two-year-old Charles Francis to Russia, where Adams served as minister. Despite the glamour of the tsar's court, she had to struggle with cold winters, strange customs, limited funds, and poor health; an infant daughter born in 1811 died the next year. Peace negotiations called Adams to Ghent in 1814 and then to London. To join him, Mrs. Adams had to make a forty-day journey across war-ravaged Europe by coach in winter; roving bands of stragglers and highwaymen filled her with "unspeakable terrors" for her son. Happily, the next two years gave her an interlude of family life in the country of her birth.
Appointment of John Quincy Adams as Monroe's Secretary of State brought the Adamses to Washington in 1817, and Louisa's drawing room became a center for the diplomatic corps and other notables. Good music enhanced her Tuesday evenings at home, and theater parties contributed to her reputation as an outstanding hostess.
But the pleasure of moving to the White House in 1825 was dimmed by the bitter politics of the election and by her own poor health. Mrs. Adams suffered from deep depression. Though she continued her weekly "drawing rooms," she preferred quiet evenings reading, composing music and verse, and playing her harp. The necessary entertainments were always elegant, however; and her cordial hospitality made the last official reception a gracious occasion although her husband had lost his bid for re-election and partisan feeling still ran high.
Mrs. Adams thought she was retiring to Massachusetts permanently, but in 1831 her husband began 17 years of notable service in the House of Representatives. The Adamses could look back on a secure happiness as well as many trials when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at Quincy in 1847. He was fatally stricken at the Capitol the following year; she died in Washington in 1852, and today lies buried at his side in the family church at Quincy.
1825: In the election, no candidate achieves a majority of electoral endorsements so a decision is reached in the House of Representatives.
1825: Adams nominates Clay to be secretary of state, a move that Jackson supporters believe was Clay's reward for getting Adams elected.
1825: Completion of the Erie Canal linking the Atlantic and trans-Atlantic marketplaces.
1828: Construction begins on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. Built to compete with the Erie Canal, it was the first U.S. railroad designed for both passengers and freight.
1. John Quincy Adams was the first to be elected president without receiving either the most popular votes or the most votes of the electoral college.
2. Adams was the first president married abroad, and the first president to be photographed.
3. Adams is the only president to be elected to the House after his presidency.
4. Adams dug the first spade of dirt near Little Falls to begin the construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal on July 4, 1828.
5. John Quincy Adams regularly swam nude in the Potomac River. The first American professional journalist, Anne Royall, knew of Adams’ 5a.m. swims. After being refused interviews with Adams many times, she went to the river, gathered his clothes and sat on them until she had her interview. Before this, no female had interviewed a president.
6. John Quincy Adams was the son of a former president.