- NAME: John Quincy Adams
- OCCUPATION: Lawyer, Diplomat, U.S. President, U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: July 11, 1767
- DEATH DATE: February 23, 1848
- EDUCATION: University of Leiden
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Braintree, Massachusetts
- PLACE OF DEATH: Washington, D.C.
- Full Name: John Quincy Adams
- Nickname: "Old Man Eloquent"
- Nickname: "The Abolitionist"
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John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States. He was also the eldest son of President John Adams, the second U.S. president.
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Watch a short video about John Quincy Adams and discover how he became the sixth President of the United States.
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In a post he was most suited for, John Quincy Adams served as secretary of state in President James Monroe's administration from 1817 to 1825. During this time, he negotiated the Adams-Onis Treaty, acquiring Florida for the United States. He also helped negotiate the Treaty of 1818, settling the long-standing border dispute between Britain and the United States over the Oregon country,
and initiating improved relations between Great Britain and its former colonies.
By age 50, John Quincy Adams had amassed a very impressive record of public service, but perhaps his most notable and enduring achievement was the Monroe Doctrine. After the Napoleonic wars had ended, several Latin American colonies of Spain rose up and declared independence. A defining moment for the United States, Adams crafted the Monroe Doctrine, which stated the United States would resist any European country's efforts to thwart independence movements in Latin America; the doctrine, first introduced in 1823, served to justify U.S. intervention in Latin America throughout the late 19th and most of the 20th centuries.
By 1824, John Quincy Adams was well-positioned to be the next president of the United States. However, the political climate had changed the way presidents were elected at the time; only the Democratic-Republican Party was viable and five candidates emerged, each representing different sections of the country. Running against Adams were Southerners John C. Calhoun and William Crawford, and Westerners Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. In addition, by the 1824 election, 18 of 24 states had moved to choose electors to the Electoral College by popular vote instead of to state legislatures.
In the Electoral College vote, no one candidate had a clear majority and, subsequently, the election was sent to the House of Representatives. Clay threw his support to Adams, who was elected on the first ballot. Adams's victory shocked Jackson, who had won the popular vote and fully expected to be president. When Adams later appointed Clay secretary of state, Jackson Democrats cried "corrupt bargain," and were enraged at the seemingly quid pro quo arrangement.
John Quincy Adams entered the presidency with several debilitating political liabilities, including John Quincy Adams himself. He possessed the temperament of his father: Aloof, stubborn and ferociously independent in his convictions. As president, John Quincy failed to develop the political relationships needed—even among members of his own party—to effect significant change. It didn't help that his political opponents were set on making him a one-term president.
In his first year in office, Adams proposed several far-sighted programs that he felt would promote science, as well as encourage a spirit of enterprise and invention in the United States; these goals included building a network of highways and canals to link the different sections of the country, setting aside public lands for conservation, surveying the entire U.S. coast and building astronomical observatories.
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The first U.S. president, former military leader George Washington, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall. From that moment onward, the United States' highest office has been filled regularly by elected officials who aim to serve the people under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution. Learn more about the 43 men who have served as America's chief executive.
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