Adams, John Quincy

Adams, John Quincy

biographical name


John Quincy Adams.—© Archive Photos

(born July 11, 1767, Braintree, Mass.—died Feb. 23, 1848, Washington, D.C., U.S.) Sixth president of the U.S. (1825–29). He was the eldest son of John Adams, second president of the U.S., and Abigail Adams. He accompanied his father to Europe on diplomatic missions (1778–80) and was later appointed U.S. minister to the Netherlands (1794) and to Prussia (1797). In 1801 he returned to Massachusetts and served in the U.S. Senate (1803–08). Resuming his diplomatic service, he became U.S. minister to Russia (1809–11) and to Britain (1815–17). Appointed secretary of state (1817–25), he was instrumental in acquiring Florida from Spain and in drafting the Monroe Doctrine. He ran for the presidency in 1824 against three other candidates; none received a majority of the electoral votes, though Andrew Jackson received a plurality. By constitutional design, the selection of the president went to the House of Representatives, where Adams was elected after receiving crucial support from Henry Clay, who had finished third in the initial balloting. He appointed Clay secretary of state, which further angered Jackson. Adams's presidency was unsuccessful; when he ran for reelection, Jackson defeated him. In 1830 he was elected to the House, where he served until his death. He was outspoken in his opposition to slavery; in 1839 he proposed a constitutional amendment forbidding slavery in any new state admitted to the Union. Southern congressmen prevented discussion of antislavery petitions by passing gag rules (repealed in 1844 as a result of Adams's persistence). In 1841 he successfully defended the slaves in the Amistad mutiny case.

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