History Week 10.The life of John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams


In this essay, I discuss the life and presidency of John Quincy Adams, the son of one of the founding fathers of America. The essay is basically made up of paragraphs that go through the life of this influential man.

John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1767, to John and Abigail Adams. When young John was only eight years old he witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill from the top of Penn’s hill, which was not far from the farm where he grew up. As he grew older, he accompanied his father as a secretary while John Adams was in Europe. Through the time spent abroad, young John became an excellent writer. At home, young John was privately tutored and this helped him write well too. 

By this time America had become an Independent nation from Britain with John Quincy’s father becoming a founding Father of the new country. The diplomatic missions to Europe with his father had started before independence from Britain had been gained, but now America was truly independent.

After coming back from Europe in 1785, John Quincy attended Harvard University, from which he graduated second in his class in 1787. After graduating, John studied law until 1789. Also in 1789, young Adams’ father, John Adams, became Vice President of the US under the first president, George Washington. In 1794, John Quincy once again was involved in politics, when George Washington appointed him as ambassador to the Netherlands. As ambassador, John Quincy excelled at his work. 

In the winter of 1795-1796, John Quincy was in London where he met Louisa Catherine Johnson and, after a brief courtship, the couple happily married. In 1796, John Adams became the second president, beating Thomas Jefferson in the election. John Adams quickly appointed his son as ambassador, but this time John Quincy became ambassador to Prussia. After his father lost the 1800 election, John Quincy continued serving in different public service roles. In 1802, he was elected to the senate, from which he jumped to becoming minister to Russia six years later in 1808 under President Monroe. In 1817, John Quincy became Secretary of State and is now remembered as one of the greatest Secretaries of State that ever lived. He organised the joint occupation of the Oregon territory from Britain and was involved in the obtaining of Florida from Spain. 

Soon John Quincy found himself in a race with Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and William Crawford to becoming president. While the early trend had been that the Secretary of State would become the next President, this trend was giving way to popular votes. Although Jackson was popular, Adams arose victorious in the election and was inaugurated as President in 1825. President John Quincy quickly elected Henry Clay as his Vice-President and many of Jackson’s supporters claimed that a corrupt bargain between Adams and Clay had taken place in the election. This however, did not stop Adams and he managed to hold his place of President.

During his Presidency, Adams was a supporter of the development of roads and canals to link the US together. He was also an avid supporter for the development of sciences and arts. He urged congress that this could be achieved through the erection of a national university and observatory.

But his term soon passed and as Adams came round for the re-election bid, he soon found that there was no chance of him getting reelected. Jackson and his supporters had been getting ready for the election of 1828 and this proved vital for the latter, as Adams was defeated in the election

But Adams’ political life did not stop after Presidency. In 1830 he was elected to the house of representatives in Plymouth, where he became a powerful leader. For eighteen years Adams fought tirelessly against slavery and the “gag rule” which was a rule concerning slavery.

In 1848, while attending the house of representatives, John Quincy collapsed on the floor from a stroke. Just two days later, this great and notable leader died. John Quincy was buried at the First Parish Church in Quincy.

John Quincy was an influential man in US history. Apart from being one of the few sons of a former president to become president, he was passionate about fighting one of the horrible things that happened in America, notably, slavery. In many polls of today, John Quincy is consistently ranked among the top 25 presidents of America.


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