Presidents: John Quincy Adams

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young John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams held the distinction for the next 175 years of being not only President of the United States, but the son of a President. George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are now the other father-son duo to serve as President.

John Quincy Adams was born on July 11, 1767 to John and Abigail Smith Adams. He was named for his mother’s maternal grandfather, Colonel John Quincy. Quincy, Massachusetts was named for Colonel John Quincy.

John Quincy Adams was tutored by his cousin and his father’s law clerk.

At the age of 13, in 1779, Adams began keeping a diary. This was a practice he continued until his death, leaving over 50 volumes of first hand information on the early days of the United States of America.

As a youth, John Quincy Adams accompanied his father, John Adams, oversees on his appointments, including France, the Netherlands, and to Russia with Francis Dana. He became fluent in French and Dutch and familiar with many of European languages. He attended Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Upon return to the United States, he entered Harvard College and graduated in 1787 and earning a Master’s in 1790. In 1791, he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law.

In 1793, President Washington appointed him minister to the Netherlands.

President John Quincy Adams

While serving oversees he met and proposed to Louisa Catherine Johnson. In 1796, he became Minister to Portugal.

By all accounts, John Quincy Adams would have preferred to live a quiet life upon his books. It was only at his father’s urging that he accepted Washington’s nominations. At some point during his time overseas, he came to term with a life of public service.

In 1797, he married Louisa Catherine Johnson in London. He is the first president, until our current president, to marry a wman born outside of the United States.

Adams mother, Abigail Adams, had a strong personality and disapproved of this union, much as she had done with a previous relationship. By all accounts he had a difficult relationship with his strong willed mother.

That same year, his father, now President John Adams, appointed him as Minister to Prussia.

John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams had their first son in 1801 and named him George Washington Adams for the first President. Two years later a son, John was born.

Upon his return to the United States he was appointed Commissioner of Monetary Affairs in Boston. Thomas Jefferson would later rescind the appointment. For a short while he practiced law before entering politics. In 1802, he became a member of the Massachusetts State Senate.

John Quincy Adams

In 1803, he was elected to the United States Senate, where he would serve for the next five years.

In 1807, a third son, Charles Francis Adams, was added to the family.

On June 8, 1808, John Quincy Adams resigned his Senate seat and broke with the Federalists party before becoming a Republican.

In 1809, he became the first Minister to Russia. He is reported to be well liked by the Russian Court and often went on walks with Tsar Alexander I.

While in Russia, Louisa Catherine Adams had a daughter, Louisa, in 1811 but she died the following year.

In 1814, he was recalled to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. He was then appointed as Minister to the Court of St. James’s in Britain, a position his father held.

Under President James Monroe, Adams served as Secretary of State.

In 1824, John Quincy Adams won the electoral votes, but not the popular votes for President. The popular vote went to Andrew Jackson.

On March 4, 1824, Adams took the oath as the sixth President of the United States. While he’d had great success in previous offices, he was met with great opposition by Congress while president. According the The Presidency of John Quincy Adams “However, thanks to the successes of Adams’ diplomacy during his previous eight years as secretary of state, most of the foreign policy issues he would have faced had been resolved by the time he became president.”

photo of John Quincy Adams

He became the first president to adopt a short haircut instead of long hair tied in a queue and to regularly wear long trousers instead of knee breeches.

John Quincy Adams lost reelection to Andrew Jackson. Jackson snubbed Adams after his election and Adams refused to attend the Jackson inauguration.

Adams was deeply hurt and considered retiring from public life after his loss for re-election. The following year his son, George Washington Adams, committed suicide which only added to his pain. However, he grew bred with retirement.

In 1830 he ran and won a seat in the United State House of Representatives. He was the first president to serve in Congress, following his presidency. He was re-elected for 9 terms, until his death.

In 1834, his son John died.

In 1843, John Quincy Adams became the first known United States President to have his photograph taken.

It has also been suggested that John Quincy Adams had the highest I.Q. of any U.S. president.

Having watched first hand the Founding Fathers, in his later years John Quincy Adams sat in the House of Representatives with a young man named Abraham Adams. Martin Van Buren would be the only other president to work first hand with the Founding Fathers and a young Lincoln.

In 1846, the former president suffered a stroke. For several months he was paralyzed, before making a full recovery. On February 21, 1848 he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage while voting on an issue regarding veterans of the Mexican-American War. He died two days later. His last words are recorded as “This is the last of earth. I am content.”

He was the last surviving child of John and Abigail Adams, having outlived all five of his siblings.

Adams left a huge legacy with his diaries and diplomatic appointments.

In 1870, his son, Charles Francis Adams, built the first Presidential library in the United States in honor of his father. The library is located at Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts.


6th President of the United States
(March 4, 1825 to March 3, 1829)Nickname: “Old Man Eloquent”

Born: July 11, 1767, in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts
Died: February 23, 1848, in Washington, D.C.

Father:  John Adams
Mother: Abigail Smith Adams
Married: Louisa Catherine Johnson (1775-1852), on July 26, 1797
Children: George Washington Adams (1801-29)
John Adams (1803-34)
Charles Francis Adams (1807-86);
Louisa Catherine Adams (1811-12)

Religion: Unitarian
Education: Graduated from Harvard College (1787)
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Democratic-Republican

  • Secretary to U.S. Minister to Russia, 1781
  • Minister to the Netherlands, 1794
  • Minister to Prussia, 1797-1801
  • United States Senator, 1803-08
  • Minister to Russia, 1809-11
  • Peace Commissioner at Treaty of Ghent, 1814
  • Secretary of State, 1817-25
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1831-48

  • 1825
    • The appointment of Henry Clay as secretary of state, led to charges that the Clay and Adams made a bargain in the election of 1824.
    • Erie Canal completed.
  • 1828
    • Baltimore & Ohio railroad, the first designed for passengers and freight.
    • Andrew Jackson defeated Adams.

1767 Born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts. He was the son of the second US President John Adams.

1775–83 The American Revolution, the American War of Independence, led by George Washington was fought between Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.

1787 Educated at European Schools and graduated from Harvard in 1787

1797 John Quincy Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson in London on July 26, 1797. They had 4 children.

1781 Secretary to U.S. Minister to Russia, 1781

1794 Minister to the Netherlands, 1794

1797-1801 Minister to Prussia, 1797-1801

1803-08 United States Senator, 1803-08

1809-11 Minister to Russia, 1809-11

1811 Battle of Tippecanoe

1812 The War of 1812 which has also been called the second War for Independence, between the United States and Great Britain

1814 Peace Commissioner at Treaty of Ghent, 1814

1814 He was instrumental in negotiating the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 that ended the War of 1812

1817 – 1818 The First Seminole War when American slave owners travelled to Spanish Florida in search of runaway African slaves and Seminole Indians who had been trading weapons with the British in the War of 1812.

1817-25 Secretary of State, 1817-25 (under Monroe)

1823 John Quincy Adams was instrumental in formulating the Monroe Doctrine. James Monroe implemented the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 which declared against foreign colonization or intervention in the Americas.

1825 He became the sixth President of America in 1825 and served for 4 years until 1829. He led the fight to force Congress to receive antislavery petitions and gaining Florida from Spain.

1830 Indian Removal Act. – The Oregon Trail opens

1831 Nat Turner’s revolt

1831-48 Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1831-48

1835 Second Seminole War begins. President Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act

1835 – 1836 The Texas Revolution (October 2, 1835 – April 21, 1836) which included the famous Battle of the Alamo. Texas settlers from the United States to join the Texan Army which defeated the Mexican Army

1837 Battle of the Alamo – Panic of 1837

1838 1838-1839: The Trail of Tears

1846 Mexican-American War begins and ends in 1848 – Texas admission to the US – Oregon Treaty signed

1847 Treaty of Cahuenga ends Mexican-American War

1848 He died of paralysis caused by a stroke on February 23, 1848 at the House of Representatives and died in the Speaker’s Room inside the Capitol Building.


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