Biography of John Quincy Adams
Famous American Biographies





JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, sixth president of the United States, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, July 11, 1767, the son of John Adams. At the age of eleven the was sent to school at Paris, and two years later to Leyden, where he entered that great university. He returned to the United States in 1785, and graduated from Harvard in 1788. He then studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1791. His practice brought no income the first two years, but he won distinction in literary fields, and was appointed minister to The Hague in 1794. He married in 1797, and went as minister to Berlin the same year, serving until 1801, when Jefferson became president. He was elected to the senate in 1803 by the Federalists, but was condemned by that party for advocating the Embargo Act and other Anti Federalist measures. He was appointed as professor of rhetoric at Harvard in 1805, and in 1809 was sent as minister to Russia. He assisted in negotiating the treaty of peace with England in 1814, and became minister to that power the next year. He served during Monroe's administration two terms as secretary of state, during which time party lines were obliterated, and in 1824 four candidates for president appeared, all of whom were identified to some extent with the new "Democratic" party. Mr. Adams received 84 electoral votes, Jackson 99, Crawford 41, and Clay 37. As no candidate had a majority of all votes, the election went to the house of representatives, which elected Mr. Adams. As Clay had thrown his influence to Mr. Adams, Clay became secretary of state, and this caused bitter feeling on the part of the Jackson Democrats, who were joined by Mr. Crawford and his following, and opposed every measure of the administration. In the election of 1828 Jackson was elected over Mr. Adams by a great majority.

Mr. Adams entered the lower house of congress in 1830, elected from the district in which he was born and continued to represent it for seventeen years. He was known as the old man eloquent," and his work in congress was independent of party. He opposed slavery extension and insisted upon presenting to congress, one at a time, the hundreds of petitions against the slave power. One of these petitions, presented in 1842, was signed by forty five citizens of Massachusetts, and prayed congress for a peaceful dissolution of the Union. His enemies seized upon this as an opportunity to crush their powerful foe, and in a caucus meeting determined upon his expnision from congress. Finding they would not be able to command enough votes for this, they decided upon a course that would bring equal disgrace. They formulated a resolution to the effect that while he merited expulsion, the house would, in great mercy, substitute its severest censure. When it was read in the house the old man, then in his seventy fifth year, arose and demanded that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence be read as his defense. It embraced the famous sentence, "that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to those ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, etc., etc." After eleven days of hard fighting his opponents were defeated. On February 21, 1848, he rose to address the speaker on the Oregon question, when be suddenly fell from a stroke of paralysis. He died soon after in the rotunda of the capitol, where he had been conveyed by his colleagues.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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