6th President of the United States


Served: March 4, 1825 - March 3, 1829
Born: July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts
Died: February 23, 1848, in Washington D.C. 
Buried: United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts

John Q. Adams.jpg        I went to visit John Adam's during a trip to Boston in 1999. Of course, with the father, you get the son. I took some students to see a Red Sox game. We, of course, saw many of the historical sites around Boston too (didn't see any statues for John). On the way home, I took a detour off I93 into Quincy. I followed the signs to the United First Parish Church. It was on a large avenue called Hancock Street, easy enough to find. The students, with one exception, waited in the car listening to the radio while the two of us went inside. It was late in the day. The church was being renovated on the inside. One of the people who oversee the church gave us a personal tour which included taking us down into the crypt to the tombs.

        John Quincy was the oldest son of John and Abigail Adams. The Declaration of Independence which his father had worked so hard on was approved 7 days before his 9th birthday. When he was 11, his father took him on a diplomatic trip to France during the American Revolution. As a person, Adams was not very outgoing and personable. In 1803, he became a U.S. Senator and in 1809 an Ambassador (called ministers back then) to Russia. President James Monroe made him his Secretary of State in 1812, where he managed to acquire Florida. So he was on his way up.

JQAdams grave.jpg        In 1820, there was only one political party - The Democratic-Republicans.  Adams ran for the presidency against Monroe. Unfortunately, this was the Era of Good Feelings and Monroe was very popular. Adams received only one electoral vote (Monroe got 231 votes).

        In 1824, there were five men looking to be president. John C. Calhoun dropped out to be vice-president. Since everyone was from the same party, they didn't have presidential tickets in this election. They voted for each separately. Jackson had the most votes, followed by Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay. Unfortunately for Jackson, he didn't have a majority, so the election went into the House of Representatives. Since only the top three candidates were considered, Clay was out. Clay figured he would face Jackson in 1828 for the presidency so he didn't want him to be a sitting president so he supported Adams who won the election. Shortly afterwards, Adams made Clay his Secretary of State which had Jackson supporters screaming that a "Corrupt Bargain" had been made.

        "Make no mistake about it; the four most miserable years of my life were my four years in the presidency." This pretty much sums up Adams' feelings about being president. He was a very bright man and had many great plans for the country. However his arrogance and independence made him one of the country's most unpopular presidents ever. When he ran for re-election in 1828, he was crushed by Andrew Jackson, 178 to 84.

        While he was president, he liked to go skinny dipping in the Potomac River at dawn. In July of 1826, Adams received a letter from home telling him his father had died. He returned to Braintree, but was 7 days late for his father's funeral.

        After leaving the White House, in 1831, Massachusetts elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the only ex-president to serve in the House of Representatives. He served for 17 years, most of the time speaking out on the evils of slavery. While sitting at his desk in Congress, Adams suffered a stroke. He had just voted against more decorations for some Mexican War generals. While on the floor of the House, he slipped into a coma. He was carried to the Speakers office where he died two days later.

        On February 25, his funeral was held in the House Chamber.  Adams was brought to the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. and then to the cemetery in Quincy. In 1852, the crypt in the First Parish Church, where John and Abigail were interred was enlarged to accommodate John Quincy and his wife, Louisa, the only foreign born first lady (she was born in England). Unfortunately, the opening in the granite sarcophagus provided for John Quincy Adams wasn't big enough for his elaborate coffin. The ceremony was stopped while stone masons chipped out a bigger opening. This event caused historian Richard Norton Smith to write, "Somehow it made perfect sense, given Adams' failure while in the White House to fit his spacious views within the cramped vision of nineteenth century agrarianism."

Here are some webpages of interest:

Adams National Historical Park
White House Biography of John Quincy Adams
The Internet Public Library Biography
The American President Biography

 Back: James Monroe

Back to Main List

Next: Andrew Jackson