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An introduction to the history of john quincy adams

See Article History Alternative Title: For a discussion of the history and nature of the presidency, see presidency of the United States of America. Key events in the life of John Quincy Adams. He grew up as a child of the American Revolution. His patriot father, John Adamsat that time a delegate to the Continental Congressand his patriot mother, Abigail Smith Adamshad a strong molding influence on his education after the war had deprived Braintree of its only schoolmaster.

In 1778 and again in 1780 the boy accompanied his father to Europe. He studied at a private school in Paris in 1778—79 and at the University of LeidenNetherlandsin 1780.

John Quincy Adams

Thus, at an early age he acquired an excellent knowledge of the French language and a smattering of Dutch. In 1780, also, he began to keep regularly the diary that forms so conspicuous a record of his doings and those of his contemporaries through the next 60 years of American history.

Self-appreciative, like most of the Adams clan, he once declared that, if his diary had been even richer, it might have become "next to the Holy Scriptures, the most precious and valuable book ever written by human hands. Dana, after lingering for more than a year in St. Petersburgwas not received by the Russian government, so in 1782 Adams, returning by way of ScandinaviaHanoverand the Netherlands, joined his father in Paris. There he acted, in an informal way, as an additional secretary to the American commissioners in the negotiation of the Peace of Paris that concluded the American Revolution.

Instead of remaining in London with his father, who had been appointed United States minister to the Court of St. He then read law at Newburyport under the tutelage of Theophilus Parsons, and in 1790 he was admitted to the bar association in Boston. These letters were also read by President Washington: Adams had first met her when he was 12 years old and his father was minister to France.

Fragile in health, she suffered from migraine headaches and fainting spells. Yet she proved to be a gracious hostess who played the harp and was learned in Greek, French, and English literature.


Accompanying her husband on his various missions in Europe, she came to be regarded as one of the most-traveled women of her time. At age 22 he fell deeply in love with one Mary Frazier but was dissuaded from marrying her by his mother, who insisted that he was not able to support a wife. Ultimately, Adams could see that, in marrying a rich heiress like Louisa Johnson, he might be able to enjoy the leisure to pursue a career as a writer, but her family suffered business reverses and declared bankruptcy only a few weeks after the wedding.

The union had many stormy moments. The loss of two sons in adulthood—and a daughter in infancy—may have heightened the strains between husband and wife. The eldest son, George Washington Adams, was a gambler, womanizer, and alcoholic whose death by drowning may have been suicide. The second son, John Adams II, succumbed to alcohol. He remains the only son of a president who was married in the White House.

On that occasion, the president unbent and danced the Virginia reel. A third son, Charles Francis Adamsbrought honour to the family name once again, being elected to the House of Representatives and serving as United States minister to England during the American Civil War. While in Berlin, Adams negotiated 1799 a treaty of amity and commerce with Prussia.

Recalled from Berlin by President Adams after the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency in 1800, the younger Adams reached Boston in 1801 and the next year was elected to the Massachusetts Senate.

In 1803 the Massachusetts legislature elected him a member of the Senate of the United States. Break with the Federalists Up to this time John Quincy Adams was regarded as belonging to the Federalist Partybut he found its general policy displeasing. He was frowned upon as the son of his father by the followers of Alexander Hamilton and by reactionary groups, and he soon found himself practically powerless as an unpopular member of an unpopular minority.

Nevertheless, he joined his Federalist colleagues in voting against a bill to enable the president to place officials of his own appointment in control of the newly acquired territory; such a bill, Adams vainly protested, overstepped the constitutional powers of the presidency, violated the right of self-government, and imposed taxation without representation.

I would not consider, I would not deliberate; I would act! His successor was chosen on June 3, 1808, several months before the usual time of electing a senator for the next term, and five days later Adams resigned.

In the same year he attended the Republican congressional caucus, which nominated James Madison for the presidency, and thus he allied himself with that party. From 1806 to 1809 Adams was Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard College.

He arrived at St. Petersburg at the psychologically important moment when the tsar had made up his mind to break with Napoleon. Adams therefore met with a favourable reception and a disposition to further the interests of American commerce in every possible way.

On the outbreak of the war between the United States and England an introduction to the history of john quincy adams 1812, he was still in St. That September the Russian government suggested that the tsar was willing to act as mediator between the two belligerents. Madison precipitately accepted this proposition and sent Albert Gallatin and James Bayard to act as commissioners with Adams, but England would have nothing to do with it.

In August 1814, however, these men, with Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell, began negotiations with English commissioners that resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24 of that year.

After accomplishing little in London, he returned to the United States in the summer of 1817 to become secretary of state in the cabinet of President James Monroe. National Archives, Washington, D. Secretary of state As secretary of state, Adams played the leading part in the acquisition of Florida.

  1. He had few intimate friends, and not many men in American history have been regarded, during their lifetimes, with so much hostility or attacked with so much rancour by their political opponents.
  2. His disapproval of the expansion of slavery led him to oppose the annexation of Texas and the war with Mexico. Petersburg , was not received by the Russian government, so in 1782 Adams, returning by way of Scandinavia , Hanover , and the Netherlands, joined his father in Paris.
  3. Minister Resident to the Netherlands in 1794.
  4. Another spectacular contribution by Adams to the antislavery cause was his championing of the cause of Africans arrested aboard the slave ship Amistad —slaves who had mutinied and escaped from their Spanish owners off the coast of Cuba and had wound up bringing the ship into United States waters near Long Island , New York.

Ever since the acquisition of Louisianasuccessive administrations had sought to include at least a part of Florida in that purchase. In 1819, after long negotiations, Adams succeeded in getting the Spanish minister to agree to a treaty in which Spain would abandon all claims to territory east of the Mississippi Riverthe United States would relinquish all claims to what is now Texasand a boundary of the United States would be drawn for the first time from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

This Transcontinental Treaty was perhaps the greatest victory ever won by a single man in the diplomatic history of the United States. Before the Spanish government ratified the Transcontinental Treaty in 1819, however, Mexico including Texas had thrown off allegiance to the mother country, and the United States had occupied Florida by force of arms. The Monroe Doctrine rightly bears the name of the president who in 1823 assumed the responsibility for its promulgation, but its formulation was the work of John Quincy Adams more than of any other single man.

Calhounand Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford —aspired to succeed him. Calhoun was nominated for the vice presidency.

Of the other four, Jackson received 99 electoral votes for the presidency, Adams 84, Crawford 41, and Clay 37; because no one had a majority, the decision was made by the House of Representativeswhich was confined in its choice to the three candidates who had received the largest number of votes. Clay, who had for years assumed a censorious attitude toward Jackson, cast his influence for Adams, whose election was thereby secured on the first ballot.

A few days later Adams offered Clay the office of secretary of state, which he accepted. American presidential election, 1824Results of the American presidential election, 1824Sources: Once he almost drowned as the sleeves of his blouse filled with water and weighed him down. But he knew he was not a man of the people.

Congress turned a generally deaf ear to his initiatives. Library of Congress, Washington, D. When Harvard College in 1833 awarded Jackson an honorary degree, Adams refused to attend the ceremony at his alma mater.

United An introduction to the history of john quincy adams Office of the Federal Register. Adams had retired to private life in 1829 in the Massachusetts town of Quincy, but only for a brief period; in 1830, supported largely by members of the Anti-Masonic movement a political force formed initially in opposition to Freemasonryhe was elected a member of the national House of Representatives.

When it was suggested to him that his acceptance of this position would degrade a former president, Adams replied that no person could be degraded by serving the people as a representative in Congress or a selectman of his town. He served in the House of Representatives from 1831 until his death, in 1848. Throughout, he was conspicuous as an opponent of the expansion of slavery and was at heart an abolitionistthough he never became one in the political sense of the word.

In 1839 he presented to the House of Representatives a resolution for a constitutional amendment providing that every child born in the United States after July 4, 1842, should be born free; that, with the exception of Florida, no new state should be admitted into the Union with slavery; and that neither slavery nor the slave trade should exist in the District of Columbia after July 4, 1845.

His prolonged fight for the repeal of the gag rules and for the right of petition to Congress for the mitigation or abolition of slavery was one of the most dramatic contests in the history of Congress.

These petitions, from individuals and groups of individuals from all over the Northern states, increasingly were sent to Adams, and he dutifully presented them. Adams contended that the gag rules were a direct violation of the First Amendment to the federal Constitutionand he refused to be silenced on the question, fighting indomitably for repeal in spite of the bitter denunciation of his opponents.

Each year the number of antislavery petitions received and presented by him grew greatly. Perhaps the climax was in 1837 when Adams presented a petition from 22 slaves and, threatened by his opponents with censuredefended himself with remarkable keenness and ability. At each session the majority against him decreased until, in 1844, his motion to repeal the standing 21st gag rule of the House was carried by a vote of 108 to 80, and his long battle was over.

Another spectacular contribution by Adams to the antislavery cause was his championing of the cause of Africans arrested aboard the slave ship Amistad —slaves who had mutinied and escaped from their Spanish owners off the coast of Cuba and had wound up bringing the ship into United States waters near Long IslandNew York.

Adams defended them as freemen before the Supreme Court in 1841 against efforts of the administration of President Martin Van Buren to return an introduction to the history of john quincy adams to their masters and to inevitable death.

Adams won their freedom.

As a member of Congress—in fact, throughout his life—Adams supported the improvement of the arts and sciences and the diffusion of knowledge. His obsequies in Washington and in his native Massachusetts assumed the character of a nationwide pageant of mourning.

Senator Thomas Hart Bentonthe main eulogist at the service in the Capitol, asked: House of Representatives, February 21, 1848. Still, throughout his political career he was handicapped by a certain personal reserve and austerity and coolness of manner that prevented him from appealing to the imaginations and affections of the people. He had few intimate friends, and not many men in American history have been regarded, during their lifetimes, with so much hostility or attacked with so much rancour by their political opponents.