Updated date:

John Quincy Adams: The 6th President Who Supported Native Americans

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

White House Portrait

John Quincy Adams was much like his father, very quiet and conservative.

John Quincy Adams was much like his father, very quiet and conservative.

Family Life: Son of a President

John Quincy Adams was the son of our third President, John Adams, and his wife, Abigail Smith Adams. He was born on July 11, 1767, in Braintree, Massachusetts. Following in his father's footsteps, he became our sixth president. Having been the child of a former President, he attended many political events. When he was ten, he watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from a distance on a hilltop with his mother. John Quincy also traveled with his father to Europe several times, where he studied many things, including learning over seven different languages! Though he studied at many universities overseas, he graduated from Harvard with a law degree in 1787 and set up a law practice in Boston.

He later married Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams. They met in London and had one daughter, who died in infancy, and three sons. He named one of his sons after George Washington, because of the deep respect he had for the first president. His two older sons died as adults, and only his youngest son survived him.

John Quincy and his family had very unusual pets, an alligator, and silkworms! Among enjoying animals, he also enjoyed reading, billiards, walking, and the theater. Although one of his favorite hobbies was swimming, he was well-known for going skinny dipping in the Potomac River every morning!

Like many others, including Abraham Lincoln, John Quincy Adams suffered from depression for most of his life. Depression must have run in the family, as one of his sons committed suicide. John Quincy was very insecure about his appearance and felt significant pressure from his mother, who disapproved of his personal choices, including his decision in a wife. He was much like his father, in that he was quiet, and often had to be encouraged towards social engagements. He preferred reading by himself rather than social activities.

His Political Career

His first career was as a lawyer after he graduated from Harvard in 1787. He considered himself a Democratic-Republican, and his religious beliefs were Unitarian. He was a huge supporter of George Washington and wrote many political articles while Washington was in office. Washington ended up appointing him to be Minister to the Netherlands. He did not want this position, but his father encouraged him, and eventually, John Quincy agreed.

Washington shared a mutual admiration for Adams, and was even quoted calling Adams, "the most valuable of America's officials abroad." It may have been this statement that caused John Quincy Adams to remain in politics, despite his desire for seclusion.

While his father was in office, young John Quincy served as the Minister to Prussia. One of his most significant accomplishments was during his work as Peace Commissioner of the Treaty of Ghent, which is what ended the war of 1812.

He also served as the Secretary of State under President James Monroe and played a crucial role in the creation of the Monroe Doctrine, which gave the U.S. protection over the Western Hemisphere. It is a well-agreed opinion that he was one of the most outstanding Secretary of States that ever was, in part because of his success in leading Florida to become part of the United States, which separated the state from Spain's governing.

Timeline

He held many offices, although he never joined the military. The offices include:

  • 1781 - Secretary to US Minister to Russia
  • 1794 - Minister to the Netherlands
  • 1797 to 1801 - Minister to Prussia
  • 1803 to 1808 - United States Senator
  • 1809 to 1811 - Minister to Russia
  • 1814 - Peace Commissioner at Treaty of Ghent
  • 1817 to 1825 - Secretary of State
  • 1831 to 1848 - Member of U.S. House of Representatives.

His Presidency

It was not until he was 58 when John Quincy Adams followed in his father's footsteps and became President. He served one term from 1825 to 1829, making his oath on a stack of law books, rather than the traditional Bible. He chose to do this because of his strong belief in keeping Church and State separate.

As a politician, he achieved many outstanding accomplishments, but he achieved few during his Presidency, because of the hostility, many of Andrew Jackson's supporters had towards him. These feelings stemmed from the fact that Adams was behind Andrew Jackson in both electoral and popular votes. For the first time in history, no one received the majority of electoral votes; therefore, the vote was in the hands of the House of Representatives. The house put their support behind John Quincy Adams, which angered Jackson supporters.

He fought for Native Americans to have their own territory. His efforts failed. Although he did succeed in the digging of the Erie Canal, he also is the only President ever to pay off the majority of the national debt, while in term. We have yet to see a President before or After Adams to manage the same.

When he ran for president a second term, he failed to win electoral votes for Presidency for a second term, and Andrew Jackson won by a landslide. He was the second President to fail to win a second term; his father was the first.

Although his Presidency does not stand out among the rest of the U.S. Presidents, he as a politician did. He was extremely outspoken against slavery, as well as a prominent spokesman for the freedom of speech. He was the only President to ever serve in the House of Representatives after his Presidency. He served for a total of seventeen years, serving until his death. During this time, he was able to be heard about his views on slavery. He had even correctly predicted that if a civil war broke out, the president would be able to abolish slavery, just as Abraham Lincoln did during the Emancipation Proclamation.

The "gag rule," hindered John Quincy Adams in his fight against slavery. The "gag rule" forbid debate of slavery issues within the house. He ended his friendship with John Calhoun after the presidency, since Calhoun was a very outspoken person in favor of slavery. Despite his lack of success, he may have had influence that ultimately led to their freedom many many years later.

Post Presidency

He never retired and worked until he died at age 81. He died after having a stroke on February 23, 1848, in Washington DC.

His story does not end there, for he kept extensive journals throughout his life. Fifty volumes to be exact, and these are some of our few first-hand reports of that period. Therefore, they are often cited by historians today.

He may not have been a notable President. Still, he was a noteworthy politician since he was one of the early anti-slavery supporters, as well as the writer of the Monroe Doctrine and fighter for Native American rights.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts

QuestionAnswer

Born

July 11, 1767 - Massachusetts Bay

President

6th

Party

Federalist (1792–1808) Democratic-Republican (1808–1830) National Republican (1830–1834) Anti-Masonic (1834–1838) Whig (1838–1848)

Military Service

none

Wars Served

none

Age at Beginning of Presidency

58 years

Term of Office

March 4, 1825 - March 3, 1829

Number of Years Served

4 years

Vice-President

John C. Calhoun

Age and Year of Death

February 23, 1848 (aged 80)

Cause of Death

stroke

The Accidental President

John Quincy Adams was our sixth president. Although he was actually an excellent president, he was not very popular.

John Quincy Adams was our sixth president. Although he was actually an excellent president, he was not very popular.

Fun Facts

  • His son (John Adams) was the only son ever to get married in the White House, which occurred on February 25, 1828.
  • The first son of a president to become a president.
  • He often would soak near the White House. One time, someone took off with his clothes, and he had to ask a passing boy to go to the White House and ask his wife to send something for him to wear.
  • He was very vocal against owning slaves while in Congress. Other Congressmen often tried to quiet him, because they did not like talking about such a controversial topic.

List of American Presidents

1. George Washington

16. Abraham Lincoln

31. Herbert Hoover

2. John Adams

17. Andrew Johnson

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Thomas Jefferson

18. Ulysses S. Grant

33. Harry S. Truman

4. James Madison

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

5. James Monroe

20. James Garfield

35. John F. Kennedy

6. John Quincy Adams

21. Chester A. Arthur

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

7. Andrew Jackson

22. Grover Cleveland

37. Richard M. Nixon

8. Martin Van Buren

23. Benjamin Harrison

38. Gerald R. Ford

9. William Henry Harrison

24. Grover Cleveland

39. James Carter

10. John Tyler

25. William McKinley

40. Ronald Reagan

11. James K. Polk

26. Theodore Roosevelt

41. George H. W. Bush

12. Zachary Taylor

27. William Howard Taft

42. William J. Clinton

13. Millard Fillmore

28. Woodrow Wilson

43. George W. Bush

14. Franklin Pierce

29. Warren G. Harding

44. Barack Obama

15. James Buchanan

30. Calvin Coolidge

45. Donald Trump

Sources

  • History.com Staff. (2009). John Quincy Adams. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.history.com/topics/john-quincy-adams
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-are-some-interesting-facts-about-presidents-first-ladies

Questions & Answers

Question: Who designed the District of Columbia?

Answer: Washington DC was designed by Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant. He was a French-American military engineer. The District of Columbia was planned in the Baroque style that was styled so avenues radiated out from rectangles with a lot of room for landscaping and open space.

© 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz

Comments

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on July 07, 2018:

I would like to hear your own thoughts rather than telling me to look somewhere else. I do find the connection others make interesting with the Presidents and freemasonry.

Related Articles