John Quincy Adams
|1825-1829||Democratic-Republican||July 11, 1767, in Braintree, Massachusetts||February 23, 1848, after collapsing on the floor of the House two days earlier from a stroke|
|Vice President||First Lady||Previous Occupations||States in Union|
|John C. Calhoun||Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams (Wife)||Lawyer, Senator, Diplomat||24|
Quincy Adams’ parents were John and Abigail Smith Adams. Quincy Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson in 1797. They had four children: George Washington, John, Charles Francis, and Louisa Catherine.
Adams was extremely qualified for the job of president, having served as an ambassador, senator, and secretary of state and also having negotiated the peace treaty with Britain that ended the War of 1812. However, in the election of 1824 none of the four candidates won a majority, though Andrew Jackson had won the most. When the vote went to the House of Representatives to decide, Adams made a deal with the fourth place candidate, Henry Clay. Clay offered to withdraw if Adams would make him secretary of state. The strategy worked, but Jackson was infuriated and controversy swirled around Adams upon his election. Continuous charges of corruption surrounded Adams, and his reputation never fully recovered. Adams proposed many progressive projects to move the nation forward, particularly in the arts and sciences, but most were not funded. However, progress in developing transportation routes was made when Adams broke ground in 1828 for the 185-mile Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.
Following his presidency, Adams served for 18 years in the House of Representatives, often campaigning against slavery. He wrote in his diary in 1841, “The world, the flesh, and all the devils in hell are arrayed against any man who now in this North American Union shall dare to join the standard of Almighty God to put down the African slave-trade; and what can I, upon the verge of my seventy-fourth birthday, with a shaking hand, a darkening eye, a drowsy brain, and with all my faculties dropping from me one by one, as the teeth are dropping from my head––what can I do for the cause of God and man, for the progress of human emancipation, for the suppression of the African slave-trade? Yet my conscience presses me on; let me but die upon the breach.”
Regarding his term in office, Adams in later years stated, “Make no mistake about it, the four most miserable years of my life were my four years in the Presidency.”
At This Time
1825: The Erie Canal opens, linking Lake Erie and the Great Lakes with the East Coast • 1826: James Fenimore Cooper writes The Last of the Mohicans • 1828 Noah Webster publishes the American Dictionary of the English Language
Did You Know?
John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives because none of the four candidates won a majority in the national election. He was also the first president to be the son of a president.
While living in the White House, Adams led a routine life. He rose at 5:00 a.m. each day, read the Bible, and then either took a walk or went for a swim in the Potomac River. One morning while swimming, someone stole his clothing, and he was forced to ask a passing boy to run to the White House to retrieve another suit for him.
Adams installed the first pool table in the White House. Initially, he billed the government for the $61 it cost for the table, cues, and billiard balls, but he was decried for such a personal purchase and later he reimbursed the government.
Information about Adams National Historical Park, which includes the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. The website also includes educational information.
In-depth essays created by the University of Virginia on John Quincy Adams’s life and administration.
Field Trips for John Quincy Adams
Adams National Historical Park
The Adams National Historical Park features a number of structures, including the birthplaces of John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, and the Old House. The homes feature original furnishings and personal possessions of four generations of the Adams family. Also on the site is the still active United Parish Church which was partially financed by the Adams family and is the burial site of the second and sixth presidents and their first ladies.