John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the son of Charles Francis Adams where Charles was the youngest son of Adams. Charles studied diplomacy and politics. In 1870 bid to honour his father, Charles build the memorial presidential library in the”Old House” at Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts in the United States. The park is always open to the general public, its located near the Abigail Adams Cairn, this was where Adams at the age of seven years witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill. When Francis Diana was going on a mission to St Petersburg, Russia to get the recognition of the new United States, Adam accompanied him for three years as a secretary. Adam was aged 14 at that time where he had education from institutions like the Leiden University. During the period when Adams was in Philadelphia, he came to learn about the Declaration of independence from the letters his father addressed to his mother from the Second Continental Congress. John Adams youthful times passed while he accompanied his father mostly to overseas countries. From 1778-1779, John Adams worked as an American envoy to France. He also worked as an envoy in Netherlands from 1780-1782. During these times, the young Adams was always following him. During this period, Adams mastered several European languages including French, Dutch and Germans among others. He also published a travel report of Silesia in 1804 (Lucas, 2005, 51).
John and Charles were the first family of father and son to be the presidents of the United States. George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were also among the fathers and sons to have served as presidents. Both John Quincy Adams and Charles Francis Adams served for one term in office. John Quincy Adams was married to Louisa Catherine Adams and were blessed with four children, a daughter and three sons. Lousisa died in Russia. She was born in 1811 and died in 1812. The other two sons George and John died in there early adulthood. Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1767. He developed to an assiduous diarist and also a linguist while working with his father as a secretary in Europe. He went to Harvard College to study law, in honor of Adam and his father with Adams House in Harvard College named after them. He graduated at the age of 26 in 1788. He joined Theophilus Parsons in Newburyport, Massachusetts as a law apprentice in 1787-1789. In 1789, Adams was admitted to the bar where he commenced practicing law in Boston. He later became a minister to the Netherlands and was later raised into the rank to the Berlin Legation. United States Senate appointed him in 1802. He was later appointed as a Minister to Russia by the later president Madison (Howe, 2001, 32).
He was considered the political heir for the seat of the presidency as dictated by the political tradition in 19th century. During this time, the political traditions were continuously fading by 1824 giving way for the popular choice. The one and only party produced the sectionalism, the republican; the factionalism each of these sections produced a candidate for the presidency. In 1834, Adams lost the Anti- Masonic seat for the Governor of Massachusetts to John Davis. In the case hearing between the United States v. The Amistad Africans in the Supreme Court of the United States in 1841, Adams successfully represented the defendant. He opposed neither the extradition nor the deportation of the Africans who had seized control of Spanish ship, the ship which was still under the Spanish control transporting illegal slaves. Adams argued for the freedom of those Africans (Hawkins, 2002, 14).
Adams presidential opponents were the then speaker of the House Henry Clay of Kentucky, the Secretary of the Treasury William H Crawford of Georgia, John C. Calhoun from South Carolina who was the Secretary of War, and the US Senator from Tennessee, Andrew Jackson. Crawford who was the major opponent of Adams suffered from a stroke making Adams the only strong favorite candidate.
He became the candidate for North where he chose to support General Andrew Jackson in which he emerged top of Henry Clay and William H. Crawford in the electoral votes. The election was decided from the three top contenders by the house of Representetives because no candidates had majority votes. Clay decided to support New England against the house and favored Adams program. Adams became the president. Instead of the normal traditional way of taking an oath with the bible, Adams replaced the bible with the book of laws while oathing. He gave the seat of the Secretary of States to Clay. Together, they formed a new party called the National Republican Party. Things went bad for Adams and Clay when the new party never took strong ground roots (Ellis, 2001, 31). Matters deteriorated when Adam lost control in the 1827 elections and therefore saw Martin Van Buren who was a New York senator become the head of the senate. During his tenure, Adams concentrated on the improvement of the American system. He worked on improving infustracture such as roads, buildings and developing a national bank to form one currency and improve on the productive enterprises through raising the tariff rates. Adams made some diplomatic achievements during his times. He made treaties of reciprocity with many nations where among them were the Hanseatic League, Denmark, the Scandinavian countries, Prussia and Austria. Due to Adams efforts during the eight year period when he was a secretary, most of the issues that involved foreign policy had been resolved by the time he took office (Hawkins, 2002, 29).
His tenure was also faced with a lot of setbacks. Many of this difficulties arose due to his principles which included his believe on the principle that one should only be removed from office incase he was found with incompetence. He still decided to reinstate John McLean who became his Postmaster General. Adams abuse of patronage powers through favouritsm become the genesis of his contaminated system. In 1828, Jackson together with his other congress decided to rally against Adams for the presidency. Jackson stepped down from the senate seat after Adams inauguration in 1825. Together with his supporters in the congress for four years, they worked tirelessly to ensure that he succeded in the 1828 presidential elections. Both contenders did not personally campaign but there followers rallied several events in support of there favored candidate. The campaign grew to a personified one. The press rhetorically attacked both the candidates. Jackson’s wife was attacked of bigamy. She later died few weeks after the elections. Jackson chose to pardon those who attacked him but vowed never to forgive those who attacked his wife. He proclaimed in his annual message on the integration of the sections through highways and canals to the Federal Government using the procceds from sale of land be used to create and preserve public dormain. In 1828, he favored the 185-C & O Canal. Adams also proposed on the United States champions in the improvement of art and sciences through the development of a national university. This proposal was highly opposed by the critics as exceeding the constitution boundaries. During the 1828 campaigns, the opponents mainly from Jackson side blamed Adams for public plunder and corruption (Howe, 2001, 45).
Adams lost his seat and decided to go back to Massachusetts to his farm. In March 4th 1829, John Adams vacated his office which was taken by Andrew Jackson who won the 1828 election. The margin between Adams and Jackson was significant. Adams had won in all the same states his father had previously won in the 1800 elections. The states were New England, New Jersey and Delaware. With the exemption of New York and Maryland, Jackson won all the seats. However, despite the defeat by Jackson, Adams decided not to retire but instead choose to vie for a seat as a National Republican where the elections were held in 1830. He made it to the Congress making him the first president to have made in to the Congress after completing his term in the office. Adams became a representative for three districts where he represented them from the 22nd to the 30th Congresses. The districts were Massachusettss 11thCongressional district, 12th Congressional district and the 8th Congressional district. Adams represented Massachusetts 11th Congressional district from 1837 to 1833. He then succeeded the 12th Congressional district up to the year 1837 and afterwards represented the 8th Congressional district up to the year 1843. During his term in the Congress, Adams was the chairman of various committees. He chaired the Committee on Manufacturers, the Committee on Indian Affairs and the Committee on Foreighn Affairs whuch were both for the 27th Congress. Adams was strongly opposed to the activities of slavery. During the year 1836 to 1837, he strongly opposed it especially in the the District of Columbia and other places in the Congress. Though the Gag rule, he did prevent the discussion of slavery from 1836 to 1844. He managed to petition this by the use of his parliamentary skills (Lucas, 2005, 78).
During the succession of Andrew Jackson to power, Adams chose to ignore the ceremony making him among the three presidents who decided not to attend there successors inauguration. The other two were his farther and Andrew Johnson. Adams did not pay a courtesy call to Andrew Jackson some weeks prior to Jackson’s inauguration something that Andrew Jackson openly snubbed him. On February 21 1848, he suffered a stroke as a result of intensive cerebral hemorrhage. He was taken inside the speaker’s room in the Capital Building in Washington DC. On February 23, Adams passed away. He was until his death the sixth president of the United States with his service running from March 4 1825, to March 3 1829. He was regarded as among the greatest diplomats in Americas History. It was reported that his last words before his death were “This is the last of Earth. I am content. “Adams interment was at Quincy at the family burial ground (Ellis, 2001, 89).
Ellis Joseph, Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 2001, pp.31, 89
Hawkins Michael, John Marshall through the Eyes of an Admirer: John Quincy Adams. William and Mary Law Review, Vol.43, 2002, pp.14, 29
Howe John, John Quincy Adams. A Public Life, A Private Life. Journal of Southern History, Vol.67, 2001, pp.32, 45
Lucas Philip, Heir to the Fathers. John Quincy Adams and the Spirit of Constitutional Government. The Historian, Vol.67, 2005, pp.51, 78