Tag Archives: John Quincy Adams

Thought of the Day 10.30.12 John Adams (PART ONE)

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”
John Adams

President of the Senate John Adams

President of the Senate John Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Adams was born on this day in Braintree, Massachusetts Bay Colony, USA in 1735. Today is the 275th anniversary of his birth.

His ancestors came over on the Mayflower. His father was a farmer, shoemaker, a Puritan deacon, a lieutenant in the militia and a member of town council.  John loved being outdoors and he sometimes skipped school to hunt or fish.

He said later that he would have preferred a life as a farmer, but his father insisted that he receive a formal education. His father hoped that he might become a clergyman. John attended a dame school, a local school taught by a female teacher that was designed to teach the rudimentary skills of reading and writing, followed by a Latin school, a preparatory school for those who planned to attend college. He eventually excelled at his studies and entered Harvard College at age fifteen. He graduated in 1755. [Miller Center.org]

After graduation he taught school for a time to earn enough money to study law.  In 1756 he began a two-year apprenticeship studying law with John Putnam  and was admitted to the bar  at 26. He opened his practice in 1758, but things were slow going at first. He had only one case in his first year of practicing law which he lost.

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766

Abigail Adams by Benjamin Blythe, 1766 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His Law practice began to grow and he felt he was on sturdy enough financial ground to begin courting Abigail Smith. They married in 1764. John and Abigail Adams had six children together (including John Quincy Adams [click HERE for my John Quincy bioBlog ] and one of American History’s most endearing relationships.

“He early became identified with the patriot cause.” [Our Presidents/2.John Adams. whitehouse.gov.]  He gained a reputation by opposing the Stamp Act 1765 that same year he published an article “Essay on the Canon and Feudal Law.” 

When the Incident on King Street (aka the Boston Massacre) resulted in the death of five civilians in March of 1770 Adams defended the eight British soldiers and Captain Preston, the lone officer, charged with the crime. It was important that the soldiers receive a fair trail so the Crown would not have grounds for retaliation. Adams, with his Patriot pedigree and commitment to the letter of the law, was the perfect man for the job. His impassioned speech that “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”[Quotes.net] saved the men’s lives. (Sam Adams was on the prosecuting team).

He was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly in 1770, and was chosen one of five to represent the colony at the First Continental Congress in 1774. [Signers of the Declaration of Independence. US History.org]

While his flashier (and more popular) cousin Samuel Adams rallied/roused crowds in the square, John worked in the courts, taking a more measured approach to American equality.

He was reelected to the Second Continental Congress, … in May 1775, just a few days after war … erupted at Lexington and Concord. When Congress created the Continental army in June 1775, Adams nominated George Washington… to be its commander. Adams soon emerged as the leader of the faction in Congress that pushed to declare independence. . [Miller Center.org]

In June of 1776 the Continental Congress appointed Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft a Declaration of Independence. “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled” was presented on June 28th. After much debate (especially about the slavery issue) the Declaration was adopted late in the morning of July 4th 1776.

John Adams, Second President (1797-1801)

John Adams  (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Adams wrote a pamphlet detailing his Thoughts on Government. In it he advised that the new Continental government be one which benefited the happiness and virtue of the greatest number of people (not one that benefited the knighted few or the King). He advocated  a government with separate executive, judicial and legislative branches.

[Continued in PART TWO]

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Thought of the Day 7.11.12

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

–John Quincy Adams

English: John Quincy Adams

English: John Quincy Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

John Quincy Adams portrait. "John Quincy ...

John Quincy Adams portrait. “John Quincy Adams”. Metropolitan Museum of Art . . Retrieved September 4, 2009 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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