“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1767. Today is the 245th anniversary of his birth.
Eldest son of John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy grew up a child of the Revolution. His father was THE voice calling for Independence from Britain in the Continental Congress. When he was 8 years old he watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from his parent’s farm.
After the War he travelled with his father to Europe, acting as his secretary. He attended Harvard and became a lawyer and at 26 was appointed Minister to the Netherlands. He became a US Senator in 1802 and when his term was up he was appointed as Minister to Russia by President Madison. His international service to the US included the negotiation of numerous treaties including the Treaty of Ghent (that ended the War of 1812.) While Secretary of State under President Monroe he nailed down America’s border with Canada as far as the Pacific Ocean and was instrumental in forming the Monroe Doctrine and acquiring Florida from Spain.
The Presidential election in 1824 was decided in the House of Representatives. Since no candidate had garner a majority of the electoral votes in the popular count it was a three-way run off between JQ Adams, Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay. Clay’s platform was similar to Adams’ so he ceded his support to Quincy. Adams in turn named Clay as Secretary of State. Jackson, left out in the cold, raised angry cries of “corrupt bargaining” and began an aggressive campaign to gain the White House in 1828.
As President, Quincy started the first system of interstate roads and canals (breaking ground for the C&O Canal in 1828), he worked to modernize the US economy and paid off much of the National Debt, encouraged the arts and sciences with a national university, scientific expeditions and an observatory. But he was thwarted on many of his initiatives by an uncooperative Congress.
In 1828 he was defeated in his bid for a second term after a bitter and messy campaign against Jackson and returned to his beloved Massachusetts only to be unexpectedly elected to the US House of Representative in 1830. He is the only man to have served first as President and then in the House of Representatives, but his 17 years in the House were far more successful than his 4 years in the White House. Ever a stalwart proponent of civil liberties, Adams now became a leading voice against Slavery. He fought against the “gag rule” — a resolution that automatically tabled any petition having to do with Slavery without review — by attempting to use parliamentary procedures to circumvent the rule. Eventually enough Congressmen from the North came down on the side of antislavery and freedom of expression, and Adam’s argument gained favor. In 1844, after 8 years of fighting against it, the House rescinded the “Gag Rule” on a motion made by John Quincy Adams.
In 1840 Adams, “Old Man Eloquent,” argued successfully for the defendants in the Amistad case in front of the Supreme Court.
JQ Adams suffered a stroke while on the floor of the House of Representatives. He was taken to the Speaker’s Chambers and died four days later.