John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger
He fought for Washington, served with Lincoln, witnessed Bunker Hill, and sounded the clarion against slavery on the eve of the Civil War. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of The Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president.
John Quincy Adams was all of these things and more. In this masterful biography, award winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals Quincy Adams as a towering figure in the nations formative years and one of the most courageous figures in American history, which is why he ranked first in John F. Kennedys Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage.
A magisterial biography and a sweeping panorama of American history from the Washington to Lincoln eras, Ungers John Quincy Adams follows one of Americas most important yet least-known figures.
Life Portrait of John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
His early years were spent living alternately in Braintree and Boston, and his doting father and affectionate mother taught him mathematics, languages, and the classics. His father, John Adams, had been politically active for all of John Quincy's life, but the calling of the First Continental Congress in marked a new stage in John Adams' activism. The older Adams would go on to help lead the Continental Congress, draft the Declaration of Independence, and oversee the execution of the Revolutionary War. He was also absent from his children's lives more often than he was present, leaving much of their raising and education to their mother, Abigail. In the first year of the war, young John Quincy Adams feared for the life of his father and worried that the British might take his family hostage. Indeed, when John Adams signed his name to the Declaration of Independence, he committed an act of treason against England, an offense punishable by death. For John Quincy, these years were actually the beginning of his manhood, and he recalled later in life feeling responsible—as the eldest son—for protecting his mother while his father attended to the business of revolution.
House of Representatives in ; elected as a Federalist to the United States Senate and served from March 4, , until June 8, , when he resigned, a successor having been elected six months early after Adams broke with the Federalist party; Minister to Russia ; member of the commission which negotiated the Treaty of Ghent in ; Minister to England , assisted in concluding the convention of commerce with Great Britain; Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President James Monroe ; decision in the election of the President of the United States fell, according to the Constitution of the United States, upon the House of Representatives, as none of the candidates had secured a majority of the electors chosen by the states, and Adams, who stood second to Andrew Jackson in the electoral vote, was chosen and served from March 4, , to March 3, ; elected as a Republican to the U. House of Representatives for the Twenty-second and to the eight succeeding Congresses, becoming a Whig in ; served from March 4, , until his death; chairman, Committee on Manufactures Twenty-second through Twenty-sixth, and Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth Congresses , Committee on Indian Affairs Twenty-seventh Congress , Committee on Foreign Affairs Twenty-seventh Congress ; unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in ; died in the U. Capitol Building, Washington, D. Collection of the U. House of Representatives About this object.
Early life and career
The first President who was the son of a President, John Quincy Adams in many respects paralleled the career as well as the temperament and viewpoints of his illustrious father. As secretary to his father in Europe, he became an accomplished linguist and assiduous diarist. After graduating from Harvard College, he became a lawyer. At age 26 he was appointed Minister to the Netherlands, then promoted to the Berlin Legation. In he was elected to the United States Senate. Six years later President Madison appointed him Minister to Russia. In the political tradition of the early 19th century, Adams as Secretary of State was considered the political heir to the Presidency.
John Adams expected great things from his eldest son, John Quincy. And if you do not rise to the head of your country, it will be owing to your own laziness and slovenliness. He spent most of the next eight years living with his father in Paris, Amsterdam, and London. At 14, fully conversant in French, John Quincy served as secretary and translator to St. Petersburg emissary Francis Dana. In John Quincy returned to Paris as his father's secretary during the treaty negotiations that ended the Revolutionary War.
In his pre-presidential years, Adams was one of America's greatest diplomats formulating, among other things, what became the Monroe Doctrine ; in his post-presidential years, he conducted a consistent and often dramatic fight against the expansion of slavery. Though full of promise, his presidential years were difficult. He died in in Washington, D. Though he was one of few Americans to be so prepared to serve as president of the United States, John Quincy Adams's best years of service came before and after his time in the White House. As a child, John Quincy Adams witnessed firsthand the birth of the nation. From the family farm, he and his mother watched the Battle of Bunker Hill in