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John Quincy Adams
John T. Marck
John Quincy Adams
John T. Marck
John Quincy Adams was born at the
home of his parents known as "Peacefield," on July 11, 1767 in
Braintree, now Quincy, Massachusetts. As a child, John Quincy watched
the Battle of Bunker Hill from Penn=s
Hill, above the family farm. He would become the first president of
the United States who was the son of a president, his father John
Adams. This fact of father and son as presidents did not occur
again until George W. Bush was elected in 2000, the son of George H.W.
John Quincy graduated from Harvard
College in 1787, after which he became a lawyer. At 26, he was
appointed Minister to the Netherlands, and in 1802 was elected to the
United States Senate. In 1808, President James Madison appointed him
Minister to Russia. Later, under President James Monroe, John
Quincy served as one of America's
great Secretaries of State. In this position he arranged with
England the combined occupation of the Oregon Territory, obtained
Florida from Spain, and assisted the President with the Monroe
Doctrine. In his position as Secretary of State, John Quincy was
thought of as heir to the Presidency.
In the 1828 election for the
presidency, John Quincy was the candidate from the North, who fell
behind General Andrew Jackson, in both popular and electoral votes.
John Quincy did receive more votes than William H. Crawford and Henry
Clay, his two other competitors. But, since no candidate had a
majority of electoral votes, the election was decided among the top
three by the House of Representatives. Henry Clay, who favored
programs similar to those of Adams, placed his support in the House
When John Quincy became President
he, in many ways, paralleled the career and viewpoints of his famous
father. He appointed Henry Clay as Secretary of State, which
made Andrew Jackson angry, claiming that Adams had entered into what
he called a "corrupt" bargain.
So Jackson began his campaign in 1828 to oust the President.
Despite feelings of hostility by
some members in Congress, Adams [in his first annual message] still
presented an outstanding new program for the country. His proposal
included bringing together a network of highways and canals, and that
the government develop and conserve the public domain, using funds
from the sale of public lands. This same year that Jackson
started his campaign against him, Adams broke ground for the new
185-mile C&O Canal.
Adams also led the way in the
development of the arts and sciences through the establishment of a
national university, the financing of scientific expeditions, and the
building of an observatory. Critics argued that these measures by
Adams exceeded constitutional limitations.
Because of Jackson's campaigns
against him he was defeated for a second term. Following his exit from
the Presidency he returned to Massachusetts where he expected to
retire and simply enjoy his farm and his extensive library of books.
Two years later, in 1830, he was unexpectedly elected to the House of
Representatives, where he stayed and served for the remainder of his
life. One of his main interests was fighting against the
circumscription of civil liberties. With this in mind, in 1836,
Congressmen from the South passed a "gag rule" that said that the
House would automatically table any petitions against slavery.
Fighting tirelessly against this, he finally obtained its repeal eight
On February 21, 1848, he collapsed
on the House floor from a stroke. He was carried to the Speaker's
Room, where, two days later on February 23, he died. He was buried at
First Parish Church in Quincy, along with his wife, father and mother.
John Quincy Adams, who was affectionately known as "Old Man Eloquent,"
spent his life fighting for what he considered right.
Adams National Historic Site
Today, the birthplaces of the Adams
family are located in Adams National Historical Park, in Quincy,
Norfolk County, Massachusetts, about ten miles south of Boston.
This Park comprises eleven historic structures and a cultural
landscape that totals fourteen acres.
Five generations of the Adams
family lived here between 1720 and 1927 that included two Presidents
and First Ladies, three U.S. Ministers, historians, and writers, as
well as other members of the family that contributed to the success of
those in the public eye.
John Adams, the second President,
and his son, John Quincy Adams, the sixth President, both were born in
adjacent houses on Franklin Street in Quincy, which at the time of
their births was known as Braintree.
The main historic structure is the
birthplace of John Adams, born October 30, 1735, and about 75 yards
away, is the birthplace of his son, John Quincy. The house at
133 Franklin Street is a New England "saltbox" building with multiple
fireplaces around a central chimney. Originally it consisted of
two upper and two lower rooms, but more rooms were added to both
floors. The house dates to about 1680 and thus is the oldest
existing of all the Presidential birthplaces.
Upon his father's
death, John Adams (the future President) inherited a similar house
next door that became his home and law office, and the birthplace of
his son, John Quincy as well as the Massachusetts State Constitution.
Both houses are typical of those built in the late 17th
century by New England carpenters. The houses were framed with huge
beams that were secured with wooden pegs, floored with wide planks,
and covered with clapboard siding over brick-filled walls to help with
the cold New England winters.
John Adams spent much of his time
in Europe in his various diplomatic positions. During this time,
his wife, Abigail, purchased, sight unseen, a farm and house less than
two miles away from Franklin Street. Major Leonard Vassall, a wealthy
West India sugar planter, had built this house in 1731.
Just as John Adams was preparing to
settle into Peacefield, his new home, he was called away by George
Washington to serve as his vice president. Thus, it would be
twelve years before he would retire there, serving eight years with
Washington, and another four as president. During the twelve
years he was away, his wife Abigail was busy overseeing major
improvements to the house that included doubling the capacity with an
addition of an east wing in 1800. Years later, her great grandson
Henry Adams recalled the following about the Old House:
"The Old House at Quincy known
as Peacefield was 18th century. What style it had was
its Queen Anne mahogany panels and its Louis XV chairs and sofa. The
panels belonged to an
old colonial Vassall who built the house; the furniture had been
brought back from Paris in 1789 or 1801 or 1817, along with porcelain
and books and much else of old diplomatic remnants; and neither of the
two 18th century styles...was comfortable for a boy, or for
anyone else. The dark mahogany had been painted white to suit
daily life in winter gloom."
Finally at long last, John joined
Abigail and he began to enjoy the gardens, his books, and his children
and grandchildren. Over the years since he lived there, much has
changed at Peacefield, but the present-day garden and beauty offer a
link to the serenity of the earlier times. A white York rose brought
to Peacefield from England in 1788 survived and still thrives today.
As one walks the gravel paths through the orchards and gardens today
give a renewed sense of the history, tradition and quietude of
Although John Quincy Adams loved
the "Old House" and
inherited it from his parents, he was too busy with politics to pay
any attention to it. Consequently he left the supervision and
maintenance of Peacefield to his son, Charles Francis Adams. In the
middle of the 19th century, Charles converted the property
from a farm to a country gentleman's
home and added a separate building, which became the Stone Library. It
was here that John Adams=s
extensive collections, consisting of 14,000 historic volumes as well
as the collection that belonged to John Quincy, were kept.
For generations, the Adams family
remained in the "Old House," until 1927 when the Adams Memorial
Society was formed and took possession of the home. In 1946 the
Society deeded Peacefield to the federal government. The
birthplaces of John and John Quincy, owned by the city of Quincy were
also given to the federal government. These two areas, separated
by less than two miles are today considered a single National Historic
Site, controlled by the national Park Service. The Adams National
Historic Site is open from April to November each year. A splendid
time is guaranteed for all.
The United First Parish Church
(Unitarian) Of Quincy is considered the finest existing Greek revival
church in New England. The dominant interior feature is the decorative
plaster dome. The church is the burial place of Presidents John and
John Quincy Adams and their wives. John Quincy was instrumental in its
erection in 1827‑28.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
Term- March 4, 1825 to March 4, 1829
Birth: Braintree (Quincy)
Massachusetts, July 11, 1767
Marriage: London, England, July 26,
1797 to Louise Catherine Johnson, (below) who was born in London,
England, February 12, 1775. Louise died in Washington D.C., May 14,
1852 and is buried at First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts.
Children: George Washington
(1801-1829); John (1803-1834); Charles Francis (1807-1886); Louisa
Home: "Peacefield" Quincy,
Education: Studied in Paris,
Amsterdam, Leyden and The Hague; received B.A. (1787) from Harvard;
and studied law (1788-1790) with Theophilus Parsons.
Occupation before Presidency:
Pre-Presidential Offices: Minister
to the Netherlands, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain;
Member of the Massachusetts Senate;
Member of U.S. Senate; Secretary of State.
Age at Inauguration: 57
Political Party: Federalist to
1808; Democratic-Republican to 1825; National Republican (Whig)
Vice-President: John Calhoun of South Carolina
Inauguration: March 4, 1825, Hall
of the House of Representatives, Washington D.C.
Occupation after Presidency:
Death: Washington, D.C., February
Cause of Death: Stroke/Paralysis at
Place of Burial: First Unitarian
Church, Quincy, Massachusetts.
The first successful photograph
ever made was taken in France in 1826, during Adams's Presidency.
Also during his Presidency, Noah
Webster published his first dictionary in 1828, which contained 12,000
President Adams regularly swam nude
in the Potomac River. Anne Royall, the first American professional
journalist, knew of Adams' 5 A.M. swims. After being refused
interviews with the president time after time, she went to the river,
gathered his clothes and sat on them until she had her interview.
Before this, no female had interviewed a president.
Adams was the first to be elected
president without receiving either the most popular votes or the most
votes of the Electoral College.
He was the first president married
Adams is the only
president to be elected to the House after his presidency.
One of his sons, George Washington
Adams, died at the age of 28, an apparent suicide
Copyright © John T. Marck. All
Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures,
photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or
redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written
permission from the author. Grateful appreciation and informational
assistance from the Adams National Historic Park, Quincy,
Massachusetts, and in part, from The Presidents of the United
States by John T. Marck.
Splendid Time Is Guaranteed For All