The 6th President of the United States was John Quincy Adams.
His father, John Adams, was the 2nd President.
Adams served one term as President.
He did his best to win a second term, but the race against Andrew Jackson ended in defeat. His term was from 1825 to 1829. Initially, Adams and Jackson were both parts of the same party, Democratic-Republican.
However, by the time the second term election came around, the two had split into different parties. Adams was with the Republicans and Jackson was with the Democrats. He is regarded by historians as one of the best diplomats overall with his political career, but an average President.
He was born July 11th, 1767 to John and Abagail Adams in Massachusetts. He was their oldest child. Most of his youth was spent in Europe rather than in the United States. His father was a diplomat and took his family with him to reside there while he fulfilled his role. He was able to explore Europe with his father and often had questions of political nature the two would discuss.
Adams had a remarkable education, starting at an early age. His parents got him the best tutors and he learned quickly. He had a passion for learning and his tutors were impressed by how dedicated he was to his studies. They tried to challenge him but he continually completed tasks beyond their expectations.
In Europe, he became fluent in the languages of Latin, Greek, and French. In addition to his tutoring, he attended Leiden University. In 1785 was accepted into Harvard University as a junior and graduated 2nd in his class. Adams was a quiet man and often spent time reading books to further learn information and gain knowledge.
He didn’t attend law school but was able to obtain a law degree. He studied law independently under Theophilus Parsons.
In 1970 he established a law practice in Boston. His practice did very well and he was highly regarded for his integrity with cases and in-depth knowledge of the laws.
At one point he decided to avoid politics and just focus on law as a career. That changed as he found flaws in the government and published materials about them. He decided the best way to change it was to be involved with political issues.
Adams met his wife, Louisa, when the two were just children. He met her while in Europe with his father. The two met up again in 1796 when she was 22 years old. They were married a year later. She passed away in May of 1852. The couple had four children together, but their youngest died when she was about a year old.
Louisa was a huge supporter of Adams and did all she could as First Lady to assist him. He worked hard to teach his children early on to be passionate about learning. While there was no formal diagnosis, it is believed this President often suffered from symptoms relating to depression.
One of his sons committed suicide in 1829 and this was very upsetting to him. It came on the heels of losing the second term election. According to his wife, the two situations caused him to become withdrawn and to have internal struggles.
Road to the Presidency
The path to the Presidency was filled with leadership roles and various offices. Adams knew from an early age his goal was to become President. He was dedicated to fulfilling various roles along the way to give him a good chance of winning an election when the time was right. He started his political career as an ambassador.
This was an appointed position by President Washington in 1774. His ambassador location was the Netherlands. He remained in various ambassador roles until 1801. That year, President Jefferson took office. He was interested in bringing Adams into the United States Senate. It wasn’t long before Federalist leaders worked to get him on the election ballot.
He served in the House of Representatives and the United States Senator for the state of Massachusetts.
From 1817 to 1825 he was Secretary of State. Adams started in his father’s footsteps with his selected political party. The decision to part ways with the Federalist Party took place in 1801. It was due to Adam’s not agreeing with the party and their stand on foreign policy.
When he ran for President it was with his affiliation to the Democratic-Republican Party. The issue over foreign policy caused plenty of division among the politicians. Adams was a driving force behind the Monroe Doctrine. He was the first President to forgo wearing a wig and to instead have a regular haircut while in office.
The leadership of Adams and the ability to negotiate were an important part of the Adams-Onis Treaty. He was successfully able to help America obtain control over Florida with this treaty. It was a challenge to get it completed but he didn’t give up. It took place in 1819 and created a new boundary between the United States and Spain.
While the Monroe Doctrine is part of the legacy Adams created in his career, it didn’t occur during the Presidency as many people think. Instead, it was done a few years before he became President. It is significant because it created the foundation for foreign policy.
President Monroe was in office at the time this was approved. The doctrine gave the United States the role of protector in the Western Hemisphere. It also shared with all that the United States would not get involved in affairs belonging to Europe. They were a separate entity to take care of their issues and conflicts.
The Monroe Doctrine stated there was no longer an opportunity for colonization in the Western Hemisphere. From that point forward in 1823, any attempts to do so would be met with opposition by United States forces. It meant Europe could no longer attempt to move into the areas deemed part of the United States. The reason behind it was to prevent Europe from gaining power in the United States.
There were several potential candidates of the Democratic-Republican Party for the election. The problem was none of them had the majority of the votes. In addition to votes for Adams, there were votes for three other people. They were Henry Clay, William H. Crawford, and Andrew Jackson. The House of Representatives voted and that is how Adams was able to take office.
The election and the outcome were confusing to many involved. It warranted additional policies to be put in place for future elections. Jackson was angered by the outcome and felt that bargaining among leaders had taken place to get Adam’s elected over him.
His inauguration was one filled with worried individuals who weren’t sure if his role as President had been won fair and square or with corruption in the mix.
The division within Congress over the election caused tension to be high. Adams didn’t let this bother him though. Instead, it encouraged him to be the best President possible. He was fair, he listened to others, and he had the vision to bring positive change for the country. He was a supporter of fair business practices and freedom for all.
Adams was a driven present with a lengthy agenda from the start. He had a desire to see plenty of changes for the country. He was behind many federally funded projects for the overall infrastructure of the country. Most of them focused on improving transportation and communication methods. Money was used to create better roads and canals.
The passage of the Panama Canal opens in 1825, offering a 363 mile stretch between New York City and Lake Erie. Adams increased trade with the Caribbean and South America. The General Reciprocity Act formalized this agreement between the United States and the leaders of these areas of Europe.
The first two railroads successfully started up at the end of Adam’s term in office. His hard work getting the transportation sectors improved including this idea. These railroads changed the future of transportation. This was especially true when the steam engine was introduced.
Support for science stemmed from Adams and his administration. He helped encourage the government to establish the Smithsonian Institute. It was designed to offer information and learning on a new level. The money for it was from a charitable trust by British Scientist, James Smithson. The Smithsonian Institute continues to be a valuable learning institution.
Adams worked hard to establish a dominance of power for the United States. He created standardization within the military as well as a way to integrate the entities. The reason behind it was to ensure they could all work as a united effort should there be any threat to the United States. Military training manuals were created and distributed for the first time.
Adams fought to abolish slavery, and many experts feel that also lost him the election for his second term. He worked hard on the issue, including repealing the Gag Rule. This had prevented the House of Representatives from debating the issue of ending slavery.
He supported the United States in participating in the Panama Congress. Simon Bolivar was hosting it to help create unity among the countries within the Americas. Delays put in motion by Southern Conservatives though prevented it from getting to the US delegates in congress. By the time the issue was on the table, it was too late, they couldn’t attend even if it had been approved.
The Tariff of Abominations was designed to offer protection to manufacturers in New England. It is known by several names, but that is the most common one. It is also called the Tariff of 1828. The tariff was about 45% and many blamed Adams for the economic conditions getting worse once this tariff was imposed.
When he won the first election, he appointed Clay Secretary of State. This angered Jackson who vowed to win in the next election. He and his followers were relentless in trying to smear the name of Adams. They made claims of corruption during his presidency to sway people to vote for Jackson. It was hard for many to determine the truth from fiction with the campaigns.
While it was a failure for Adams and he didn’t win the election, historians share the claims were false. They felt this President had high expectations but his accomplishments were limited due to the many oppositions he faced by members of congress. Ideas and solutions were stopped in their tracks or dragged out too long before he was able to make positive changes materialize.
Adams was unsuccessful in an attempt to create a boundary settlement with Mexico. He felt the Sabine River wasn’t the best division and wanted something more favorable. Joel Poinsett was able to get this issue resolved in 1828. Jackson and his supporters were quick to point out the President wasn’t able to get it done. This was all part of trying to get Jackson into the White House during the next election.
After the White House
He continued to be involved in politics after losing the campaign for a second term as President. He didn’t wait long to jump back into a leadership position. From 1831 until he died he was elected to the House of Representatives. He also ran for governor of Massachusetts but didn’t win the seat.
In the mid-1830’s he started taking on the political views of the Whig party. This was a shift from his upbringing and the party he was with during his term as President. The Whig party was strongly opposed to Jackson and his views, and that was also the stand of Adams.
He kept a journal that spanned most of his life. He started writing it in 1779 when he was 12 years old. He was still adding entries to it days before he died. Adams died on February 23rd, 1848. He was speaking in the House when he suffered a stroke. He passed away a few days later.