John Quincy Adams

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John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767February 23, 1848) was a diplomat, politician, and the sixth President of the United States (March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829). His party affiliations were Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig. Adams was the son of United States President John Adams, and Abigail Adams. He is most famous as a diplomat involved in many international negotiations, and for formulating the Monroe Doctrine. As president he proposed a grand program of modernization and educational advancement, but was unable to get it through Congress. Late in life, as a Congressman, he was a leading opponent of the Slave Power, arguing that if a civil war ever broke out the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers, a policy followed by Abraham Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.

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Early Life

Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in a part of town which eventually became Quincy. The John Quincy Adams birthplace, now part of Adams National Historical Park, is open to the public, as is the nearby Abigail Adams Cairn that marks the site from which Adams witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill as a nine-year-old boy. He first learned of the Declaration of Independence from the letters his father wrote his mother from Philadelphia. Much of Adams' youth was spent overseas accompanying his father, who served as an American envoy to France from 1778 until 1779 and to the Netherlands from 1780 until 1782. During this period, he acquired his early education at institutions such as the University of Leiden. For nearly two years, at the age of only 14, he accompanied Francis Dana on a mission to St. Petersburg, Russia, to gain recognition of the new republic. He also spent time in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and in 1804 published a travel report of Germany's Silesia.

During these years overseas, Adams gained a mastery of French and Dutch and a familiarity with German and other European languages. After returning to America, he had become far more educated and well-travelled than most of his countrymen even twice his age. He entered Harvard College and graduated in 1788. He was then admitted to the bar in 1791 and began practising law in Boston.

Family

Adams's son Charles Francis Adams also pursued a career in diplomacy and politics. In 1870 Charles Francis built the first memorial presidential library in the United States, to honor his father John Quincy Adams. The Stone Library includes over 14,000 books written in twelve languages. The library is located in the "Old House" at Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts.

John Quincy Adams and Louisa Catherine (Johnson) Adams named one of their sons after George Washington (George Washington Adams), making Adams the only U.S. President to do so. An infant daughter, born in 1811, died of an illness while the family was in Russia.

The actress Mary Kay Adams is a descendant of John Quincy Adams.

John Adams and John Quincy Adams were the first father and son to both serve as president. Each man served one term. President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush are also father and son. Other Presidents had a family tie to a previous president. Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of William Henry Harrison. James Madison and Zachary Taylor were second cousins. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Theodore Roosevelt were fifth.

Quotes

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

Miscellanea

    1. Adams was one of the founders of First Unitarian Church of Washington, in Washington, D.C.
    2. Though the story may be apocryphal, Adams is supposed to have been the first President to give an interview to a woman. Adams had repeatedly refused requests for an interview with Anne Royall, the first female professional journalist in the U.S., so she took a different approach to accomplish her goal. She learned that Adams liked to skinny-dip in the Potomac River almost every morning around 5 a.m., so she went to the river, gathered his clothes, and sat on them until he answered all of her questions.
    3. On another occasion, while Adams was skinny-dipping in the Potomac River, a tramp stole the clothes he had left on the riverbank. Adams remained in the river for nearly an hour, until he saw a young boy walking along the river bank. He called to the boy to "Go up to the White House and ask Mrs. Adams to send down a new set of clothes for the President." Twenty minutes later, the boy returned with a servant from the White House, bearing a new set of clothes for Adams.
    4. Adams was the first president to be involved in a railroad accident. He was a passenger on a Camden & Amboy train that derailed in the meadows near Hightstown, New Jersey, on November 11, 1833. His coach was the one ahead of the first car to derail. He was uninjured and continued his journey to Washington the following day.
    5. He was the first president to have his photograph taken, although not until many years after his presidency.

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