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President John Quincy Adams

Updated on January 6, 2017

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was the 6th president of the United States.

Born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, son of president John Adams and Abigail Smith Adams. As a young boy he accompanied his father on European diplomatic missions, and at the age of 14 he was secretary to the US minister to Russia.

He graduated from Harvard in 1787 and read for the law. President Washington named him minister to the Netherlands in 1794. While in Europe he married Lou1sa Catherine Johnson; they had four children, one of whom was Charles Francis Adams (1807-86). In 1797 his father named him minister to Prussia. In 1803 he was elected to the US Senate as a Federalist. His ·independence alienated him from his party, however, and he resigned in 1808. He became minister to Russ1a in 1809, and in 1814 he was one of the commissioners that drew up the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. He became minister to Great Britain in 1815, and in 1817 President Monroe named him secretary of state. He is ranked as one of the most successful secretaries in US history; the Monroe Doctrine was his most enduring contribution. In the presidential election of 1824, Adams was the candidate of the almost extinct Federalists and ran against Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William H. Crawford. Jackson polled the most votes, but the election was decided in the House of Representatives.

Clay threw his support to Adams, who was elected. The Jacksonians charged them with a corrupt bargain, an accusation that only increased when Adams named Clay his secretary of state. Adams was not a natural politician; he had a cold and aloof personality, and he refused to enter into the political deals that were the norm of the era. As a result, his administration was not a successful one. He ran for reelection in 1828, again with Jackson as his opponent.

The campaign was one of the dirtiest in US history, with both sides making unproved charges. Jackson won an overwhelming victory, and Adams retired, embittered, to Quincy. Three years later, however, he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served with great distinction until his death at the age of 81.


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