John Quincy Adams was the 5th President of the United States and the son of John Adams. John Sr and John Quincy would be the first father-son duo to attain the Presidency until George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush did so in the year 2000.
With exception of Benjamin Franklin, John Quincy Adams is perhaps the greatest diplomat in United States History. He served George Washington during his two terms in office. He oversaw the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812 during the James Madison Presidency and then served as Secretary of State during the James Monroe Presidency in which he pioneered the Monroe Doctrine, settlement of Oregon Territory with Great Britain and America, and the acquisition of Florida for $5,000,000. His accomplishments as Secretary of State still influence America’s foreign policy today.
1824 – 25 Presidential Election
In 1824 the political scene was in disarray. James Monroe had been successfully labeled a bipartisan who managed to cross party lines with his cabinet and his politics. During his presidency the Federalist party faded into oblivion and he ran unchallenged for his second term. The result was the collapse of the Democratic-Republican caucus system and the Presidency became more of a regional fight. Five contenders fought for the office of President of the United States of America: John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and William H. Crawford. With exception to Henry Clay, all of these men served in James Monroe’s cabinet and all had served brilliantly.
During the election, Calhoun dropped out of the race leaving four contenders. Soon after, Crawford fell ill and had to also leave the race leaving three contenders. John Quincy had strong support in New England. No doubt his father’s legacy aided him, but he was viewed as a brilliant legal mind as well as a brilliant diplomat. His life of public service to his country had given him the reputation of a true patriot. Come election day it was the popular Andrew Jackson who won the popular vote, but not enough of a majority in the electoral college to claim a victory. The election then fell to the House of Representatives and Henry Clay, the odd man out who did not care for Andrew Jackson, cast the deciding vote in favor of John Quincy Adams.
Clay’s vote for Adams was based off of a personal dislike for Andrew Jackson and similar views on domestic policies with John Quincy Adams. After the election, John Quincy appointed Henry Clay as his Secretary of State. It was not as political as the Jacksonian Democrats made it out to be. John Quincy Adams was a brilliant diplomat, but a poor politician. Evidence from his life suggests that he did not have the political acumen to pull that type of move off as he was notorious for making enemies in his own party. Even-so this outrage from the Jacksonian Democrats fueled a victory for them in the 1828 elections.
The Presidency of John Quincy Adams was wrought with difficulty. After losing the election of 1824-25 the supporters of Andrew Jackson accused Adams of collusion with Henry Clay for the presidency. This caused them to oppose most of Adams’ legislations. Couple that with his own personal disdain for politics and the office of President he accomplished very little.
Adams vision was to transform America into a world power through “internal improvements.” He planned on accomplishing this by the following:
- High tariffs which would support road-building
- A National Bank that could form a national currency and encourage production
Even-so he did manage to get a few of his proposals adopted:
- He extended the construction of the Cumberland Road into Ohio and planned on continuing it west to St. Louis. The Cumberland Road Bill had been vetoed by the previous administration of James Monroe.
- The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and Louisville and Portland Canal began construction.
- The connection of the Great Lakes to the Ohio River system.
- The enlargement of the Dismal Swamp Canal in North Carolina
The last point of contention was Adams policy towards Native Americans. Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren were rabid supporters of Indian removal. Adams was not and favored human rights. While he was an expansionist he was not an expansionist in the same aspect of Andrew Jackson. His generous policies towards indians caused him to lose even more favor in the south. His views on Native Americans are not surprising since Adams was also a leading voice in the abolition of slaves.
As stated previously, Adams is regarded as one of the greatest diplomats American History. However, due to partisan politics he accomplished very little during his Presidency. Much of his success in foreign policy is what he was able to steer America out of 8 years previously with his contribution to the Monroe Doctrine.
During his presidency the Greeks battled for Independence against the Ottomans. Adams maintained the isolationist view on foreign policy by staying out of the war, although he sympathized with the Greeks and did not trust Islamic nations. He did achieve treaties with many European nations, but nothing of note.
Election of 1828
The Election of 1828 pitted the incumbent John Quincy Adams against Andrew Jackson in which would be one of the nastiest elections in American history. This time Andrew Jackson would easily defeat Adams. John Quincy Adams did not attend the inauguration ceremony of Jackson, just as his father did not attend Jefferson’s inauguration.
After leaving office Adams would serve in Congress and become a leading voice in the Abolitionist movement.
John Quincy Adams Quotes
“All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.”
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
“America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”
“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
“Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
“Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”
“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
“Where annual elections end where slavery begins.”