John Quincy Adams
• John Quincy Adams grew up just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and as he grew followed the political career of his father, John Adams, very closely. The American Revolution, which began not far from where he lived, also had an impact on his young life.
• During his teenage years Adams accompanied his father overseas and spent considerable time in a number of European cities, including Paris and Amsterdam. He studied at Harvard College for two years when he returned to the United States.
• After practicing law for a time, Adams was sent back to Europe by President Washington to serve as minister to the Netherlands. He also served as U.S. minister to Prussia before returning to America and serving as a Massachusetts state senator and then a United States senator.
• After James Madison became president John Quincy Adams again went overseas, first as the U.S. minister to Russia, and then to Belgium as part of the delegation negotiating the peace treaty to end the War of 1812.
• Perhaps Adams’ greatest political accomplishments came when he was secretary of state under President Monroe. Among other successes, he helped form the Monroe Doctrine and set many of the current borders of the United States.
How he defined the office
• Adams won a very close and what some considered controversial election for president in 1824, and when he took office believed in a strong federal government — in particular, the role of the president to help improve societal conditions. Some believed this was too bold of a position for a president who had barely won the office.
• After his presidency, Adams served nine terms in the United States House of Representatives, where he often spoke out against slavery.
Successes and failures
• During his time in office, President Adams managed to improve parts of the country he felt needed work, such as harbors, roads and canals. The United States opened up commercial trade treaties with a number of foreign countries, and settled issues with Great Britain left over from the War of 1812.
• The ill will from the 1824 election followed Adams throughout his presidency, as Andrew Jackson almost immediately started campaigning for the 1828 election, resulting in a landslide victory and only one term in office for Adams.
• “From the experience of the past we derive instructive lessons for the future.” — from his inaugural address March, 4, 1825.