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John Quincy Adams Biography

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John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767–February 23, 1848) was the sixth (1825-1829) President of the United States. He was the son of President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Smith. He is the first President whose father was also President. The second father-son duo presidencies were President George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.


John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, (in a part of town which is now Quincy, Massachusetts), and acquired his early education in Europe at the University of Leiden. He graduated from Harvard University in 1787. He studied law, then was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Boston, Massachusetts.

He was appointed Minister to the Netherlands in 1794, Minister to Portugal in 1796 and Minister to Prussia in 1797.

He was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1802, and was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the same year. He was elected as a Federalist to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1803, until June 8, 1808, when he resigned, a successor having been elected six months early after Adams broke with the Federalist party.

He was Minister to Russia from 1809 to 1814, a member of the commission which negotiated the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, and Minister to England from 1815 to 1817.

He was Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President James Monroe from 1817 to 1825. As Secretary of State, he negotiated the Adams-Onís Treaty and helped develop the Monroe Doctrine.

Adams received one electoral vote in the presidential election of 1820. President James Monroe ran virtually unopposed for re-election, but one elector cast his ballot for Adams, allegedly to ensure that George Washington remained the only American president unanimously chosen by the electoral college.

Election to Presidency

Although Adams lost in both the popular and electoral votes in the Presidential election of 1824, none of the candidates were able to secure a majority of the electoral vote, thereby putting the outcome in the hands of the House of Representatives, which to the surprise of many elected Adams over rival Andrew Jackson. Adams served as President from March 4, 1825 to March 4, 1829. During this time he worked on developing a federal system of roads, canals, bridges, lighthouses, and universities until Jackson, who defeated Adams in the latter's quest for re-election, was sworn in to replace him.

Rather than retire, Adams would go on to win election as a Democratic-Republican to the House of Representatives beginning with the 22nd Congress, serving from March 4, 1831, until his death. He was chairman of the Committee on Manufactures (for the 22nd through 26th, 28th and 29th Congresses, respectively), the Committee on Indian Affairs (for the 27th Congress) and the Committee on Foreign Affairs (also for the 27th Congress).

He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 1834. In 1841, Adams represented the Amistad Africans in the Supreme Court of the United States and successfully argued that the Africans, who had seized control of a Spanish ship where they were being held as illegal slaves, should not be returned to Spain, but returned home as free people. Adam's son Charles Francis also pursued a career in politics.

Adams died of a stroke in the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.. His interment was in the family burial ground at Quincy, Massachusetts and subsequently reinterred in the United First Parish Church.



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