John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams George Peter Alexander Healy, 1858

John Quincy Adams George Peter Alexander Healy, 1858

John Quincy Adams was the first president who was the son of a President. In many respects he paralleled the career as well as the temperament and viewpoints of his father.

John Quincy Adams was born on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts. His father, John Adams, would later serve as the first Vice-President of the United States, and then the second President. His mother was Abigail Smith.

He received his early education in Europe, studying at the University of Leiden. He graduated from Harvard University in 1787 and became an attorney, practicing law in Boston, Massachusetts. A series of papers written by him in which he controverted some of Thomas Paine’s doctrines in the Rights of Man, and later another series in which he ably supported the neutral policy of the administration toward France and England, led to his appointment by President Washington as Minister to the Netherlands in May 1794. Following this he served as Minister to Portugal in 1796 and Minister to Prussia in 1797.

Adams was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1802, but ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in that same year. Soon after, he ran as a Federalist and was elected to the United States Senate serving from March 4, 1803, until June 8, 1808.

Following that, he was Minister to Russia from 1809 to 1814 and was a member of the commission which negotiated the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. He served as Minister to England from 1815 to 1817. From 1817 until 1825 he served under then President James Monroe as one of America’s greatest Secretaries of State. During his tenure, he negotiated the Adams-Onis Treaty and was instrumental in negotiating the Monroe Doctrine.

John Quincy Adams by Gilbert Stuart, 1818

John Quincy Adams by Gilbert Stuart, 1818

Adams ran for the office of President in 1824, and lost in both the popular and electoral votes. Andrew Jackson received 99 electoral votes, Adams 84, William Crawford 41, and Henry Clay 37. Because no one had a majority of the electoral votes, the decision as to who would be president was made by the House of Representatives. Surprisingly, the House elected Adams over rival candidate Andrew Jackson.

Adams served as the sixth President of the United States from March 4, 1825 until March 4, 1829. One of the first acts of his presidency was to develop a spectacular federal transportation system that linked together roads and canals. The program also oversaw the building of bridges and lighthouses. Adams also urged the United States to take a lead in the development of the arts and sciences. He established a national university, financed scientific expeditions, and the erection of an observatory.

Adams’ chief rival in the presidential election of 1824, Andrew Jackson, felt he had stolen that election and, during the campaign of 1828, charged him with corruption and public plunder. This proved to be an ordeal Adams could hardly bear. Due to changes in voting laws and Gen. Jackson’s growing popularity with the common people, Adams lost his bid for re-election.

John Quincy Adams daguerreotype (early form of photograph) of Adams taken by Philip Haas in 1843

John Quincy Adams daguerreotype (early form of photograph) of Adams taken by Philip Haas in 1843

He did not retire from politics, however, but went on to win election to the House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic-Republican party. He served with the 22nd Congress from March 4, 1831 until his death February 23, 1848. During this time he chaired the Committee on Manufacturers, the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Committee for Foreign Affairs. He served in the House of Representatives for 17 years and remains the only president to hold office in the House after his presidential term expired. Adams ran unsuccessfully for the Governor of Massachusetts in 1834.

During his House tenure, he was an opponent of slavery, and was known as a champion of freedom of speech. In 1841, he served as legal representative for the Amistad Africans in famous trial held at the U.S. Supreme Court. He successfully argued that the Africans, who had taken control of a Spanish ship where they were held captive as slaves, should not be returned to Spain, but returned to their homeland as free people.

Adams was married to Louisa Catherine Johnson and, together, they had four children. One son, Charles Francis, followed in his father’s footsteps with a career in politics. He is the first of two presidents whose father was also president. George W. Bush was the second.

Adams died of a stroke in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. His body was laid to rest in the family burial ground at Quincy, Massachusetts, and was later reinterred in the United First Parish Church.

John Quincy Adams Facts

  • President No.: 6th
  • When did John Quincy Adams serve? 1825-1829
  • What was John Quincy Adams’s party?Democratic-Republican
  • Where was John Quincy Adams from?Massachussets
  • Who was John Quincy Adams’s wife? Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams
  • When was John Quincy Adams born? July 11, 1767
  • Where was John Quincy Adams born? Braintree, Massachusetts
  • When did John Quincy Adams die? February 23, 1848, after collapsing on the floor of the House two days earlier.
  • Which college did John Quincy Adams attend? Harvard University
  • What was John Quincy Adams’s Jobs Before President? Lawyer, Ambassador to the Netherlands and Great Britain, Secretary of State
  • What was John Quincy Adams’s height? 5 feet, 7 inches
  • What was the population when John Quincy Adams was president? 12,866,020
  • What were John Quincy Adams hobbies? Billiards, swimming, walking
  • What pets did John Quincy Adams keep? Silk worms, alligator
  • What transportation did John Quincy Adams use? Steamboat, horse and carriage
  • How did John Quincy Adams communicate? Letter


John Quincy Adams Speeches

John Quincy Adams State of the Union Addresses


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