Monday, July 5, 2010
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was the only son of a United States President to also become President - until George W. Bush was elected. Both John Quincy and his father failed to win a second term of office. Soon after John Quincy lost his second campaign for President, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives - a position that pleased him more than being President. John Quincy Adams was born in the family home in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, on July 11, 1767. He was the second child and eldest son of President John Adams, the second President of the United States. John Adams was away from home much of the time during the 1770's because he was serving in the Continental Congresses. John Quincy had the responsibility to help his mother Abigail manage the large family farm. Congress sent John Adams to France in February 1778, and eleven-year John Quincy pleaded to go along on the voyage. John Quincy attended schools in Paris, Amsterdam, and Leiden because his father moved from one diplomatic assignment to another. John Quincy, at age 14, went to St. Petersburg to serve as private secretary to Francis Dana, the first American minister to Russia. In 1783 John Quincy rejoined his father and became his private secretary. John Quincy returned to America and entered Harvard College in 1785 when his father became minister to Great Britain. His previous schooling had prepared him to enter Harvard as a junior, and he graduated in 1787. John Quincy read law for three years and began his own law practice in 1790. He did not have much success as a lawyer and so turned to politics. In answer to Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, John Quincy wrote three different series of articles. Adams was appointed minister to the Netherlands in 1794 by George Washington. Three days after he arrived at his post, France overthrew the Dutch Republic. Adams went on special assignment to London and there met his future wife, Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of the American consul general. John Quincy was appointed minister to Portugal by George Washington in 1796, just before his father was elected President. Both Presidents considered it inappropriate for the son of a President to hold such a post, but Washington urged John Quincy to stay. President Adams appointed his son as minister to Prussia. John Quincy married Miss Johnson just prior to leaving for Berlin in 1797 where he served for four years. The couple had four children. Their only daughter, Louisa Catherine, died in infancy. Their eldest son, George Washington Adams, died in 1829 just as the presidency of his father was closing. John Adams, named for his grandfather, died five years later. The youngest son, Charles Francis, served as minister to Great Britain during the Civil War. After Thomas Jefferson became President in 1891, John Quincy returned home and was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1802. He had an independent spirit that other Federalists considered "unmanageable;" however, he was chosen to fill a vacant seat in the United States Senate in 1803. Because he was so independent of his party, he was replaced as Senator before the 1808 election. Adams intended to stay out of politics, but in 1809 President James Madison persuaded him to accept the position as minister to Russia. He was one of the American commissioners who negotiated the Treaty of Ghent with the British to end the War of 1812 and gained respect as a negotiator. John Quincy was appointed as secretary of state by President James Monroe and helped to develop the Monroe Doctrine, which said that the American continents were no longer subjects for European colonial establishments. In the presidential election of 1824, no candidate received enough electoral votes to become President. The U.S. House of Representatives had to choose between the top three: Andrew Jackson (99), Adams (84), and William H. Crawford (41). Henry Clay with 37 electoral votes threw his support to Adams, who was elected in February 1825. Adams was short and stout and had a shrill voice that often broke when he became excited. Yet he was an eloquent speaker. He was affectionate with family and friends but more reserved toward others. He was never very popular because of his aloof manner. Adams put all his energy into being President. Mrs. Adams was ill during President Adams' presidency but regained her health enough to serve as White House hostess. Adams planned to retire after he lost his second campaign for President, but the people of Quincy asked him to run for Congress in 1830. He won by large majorities over two other candidates and wrote in his diary, "My election as President of the United States was not half so gratifying." He was seated in the House of Representatives in 1831 and served for 17 years. John Quincy suffered a paralytic stroke in 1846 but recovered enough to return to Congress. He suffered another stroke on February 21, 1848 while at his desk in the House. He was too ill to be moved from the building and was carried to the Speaker's room where he died two days later. He was buried in the churchyard of the First Unitarian Church in Quincy, Massachusetts. His wife died on May 15, 1852, and was buried at his side. Their remains were later moved to the church crypt. Events in the life of John Quincy Adams were: 1) The Erie Canal was completed in 1825, linking Lake Erie with the Hudson River. It enabled freight to be shipped between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. 2) July 4, 1826, marked the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Two Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died that day. 3) The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper was published. 4) The first overland expedition from Utah to California was led by Jedediah Smith in 1826. 5) Noah Webster published An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828. The two-volume work included about 12,000 words and 40,000 definitions that had never appeared in any other dictionary. Facts and quotes for this post came from an article by Jack Shepherd in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 1, pp 40-43.