POTUS Fact 6: First President whose Father was also a President

John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767–February 23, 1848) was an American statesman who served as a diplomat, minister and ambassador to foreign nations, treaty negotiator, United States Senator, U.S. Representative (Congressman) from Massachusetts, and the sixth President of the United States from 1825 to 1829.

He was a member of the Federalists like his famous influential father, but later switched to the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later the Anti-Masonic and Whig parties when they were organized. He was the son of John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd President of the United States (1797-1801), and his wife, Abigail Adams.

Historians generally concur that Adams was one of the greatest diplomats and Secretaries of state in American history.

Image of John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams (1967-1848), 6th President of the United States (1825-1829)/Wikimedia.

John Quincy Adams, like his father, kept a diary which he started updating from 1779, age 12, until before his death in 1848. His diary shows that he suffered from depression most of his life. The entries in his diary amount to 51 volumes, more than 14,000 pages and are kept in the Adams Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Much of Adams’ youth was spent accompanying his father overseas. He accompanied his father on diplomatic missions to France from 1778 until 1779 and to the Netherlands from 1780 until 1782. During these years overseas, Adams became fluent in French and Dutch and became familiar with German and other European languages.

John Quincy Adams is reputed to have the highest I.Q. of any U.S. president. He also spoke the highest number of languages; seven. He was fluent in Dutch, French, Russian, German, Latin, Greek and English.

He entered Harvard College, graduated in 1787 with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the age of 20. Adams, mainly with the influence of his father, had excelled in classical studies and reached fluency in Latin and Greek. Upon entering Harvard he had already translated Virgil, Horace, Plutarch, and Aristotle and within six months memorized his Greek grammar and translated the New Testament. After graduating from Harvard, he studied law with Theophilus Parsons in Newburyport, Massachusetts from 1787 to 1789. He earned a Master of Arts from Harvard in 1790, was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1791, and began practicing law in Boston.

At the age of 26, President George Washington appointed Adams as Minister to the Netherlands in 1793. He preferred his quiet life of reading in Massachusetts, but yielded to his father’s persuasion to take it.

When the elder Adams became president, he appointed his son in 1797 as Minister to Prussia at Washington’s urging.

While serving abroad, in 1797 Adams also married Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of a poor American merchant, in a ceremony at the church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower, London. Adams was the first President to marry a First Lady born outside of the United States, and this did not happen until President Donald Trump assumed office in 2017, with Melania Trump as First Lady. John Quincy was 30 and Louisa Catherine Johnson was 22 when they got married. Sadly, their marriage was marked with unhappiness.

President James Madison appointed Adams as the first United States Minister to Russia in 1809. In pursuit of national unity, President James Monroe decided a Northerner would be optimal for the position of Secretary of State, and he chose the respected and experienced Adams for the role. Adams served as Secretary of State throughout Monroe’s eight-year presidency, from 1817 to 1825 and has been regarded as the greatest U.S Secretary of State ever.

In the early days of the United States, the Secretary of State was generally considered the next in line for the presidency. So in 1824, Adams entered a five-way race for the presidency with two other members of Monroe’s cabinet–Secretary of War John C. Calhoun and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford–along with Henry Clay, then speaker of the House, and the military hero General Andrew Jackson.

Image of Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams (1775-1852), First Lady of the United States (1825-1829)/Geni.

Adams carried the New England states, most of New York and a few districts elsewhere, but finished behind Jackson (who won Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and most of the West) in both the electoral and popular votes.

For the first time in U.S. history (however, no candidate received a majority of electoral votes) the election was decided by the House of Representatives. Speaker Clay threw his support behind Adams, who won the presidency and later named Clay as secretary of state. Jackson’s supporters raged against this “corrupt bargain,” and Jackson himself resigned from the Senate; he would again seek the presidency (successfully) in 1828.

Adams was inaugurated on March 4, 1825. He took the oath of office on a book of constitutional law, instead of the more traditional Bible.

John Quincy Adams was the fittest president in American history, thanks to his habit of walking more than three miles daily and swimming in the Potomac River during his presidency.

Adams’ father died on July 4th, 1826 when He was President.

Of the 80 years he lived, 50 were spent in public service.

He was the only President to ever served in Congress after his presidency.

He was the brain behind the formulation of the Monroe Doctrine and one of the most accomplished U.S. Secretaries of State of all time.

At the age of 14 Adams served as an interpreter and secretary to Francis Dana, US envoy to Russia.

He was well educated and brilliant, graduating second of his class at Harvard.

Adams was the first President to have a Masters degree.

He became a lawyer, without attending law school.

John Quincy Adams owned a pet alligator which he kept in the East Room of the White House; it was given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette.

He also installed the first billiards table in the White House.

Adams had a difficult time pushing forth an agenda as president. He acknowledged the lack of public support for his presidency in his inaugural address when he said, “Less possessed of your confidence in advance than any of my predecessors, I am deeply conscious of the prospect that I shall stand more and oftener in need of your indulgence.” While he asked for a number of key internal improvements, very few were passed and he did not accomplish much during his time in office. He was known as the “Do Nothing” President.

The presidential election of 1828 represented the first time in U.S. history that a ticket of two Northerners (Adams/Rush) faced a ticket of two Southerners (Jackson/Van Buren).

Up for reelection in 1828, Adams was hurt by accusations of corruption and criticism of his unpopular domestic program, among other issues; he lost badly to Jackson, who captured most of the southern and western votes. Adams became only the second president in U.S. history to fail to win a second term; the first had been his own father, in 1800.

Winning election to the House of Representatives in 1830, Adams served as a leading congressman for the rest of his life, earning the nickname “Old Man Eloquent” for his passionate support of freedom of speech and universal education, and especially for his strong arguments against slavery, the “peculiar institution” that would tear the nation apart only decades later.

“Think of your forefathers! Think of your posterity!”- John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), 6th President of the United States (1825-1829).

Like his father, John Quincy Adams refused to attend his successor’s inauguration.

Adams was one of only three presidents who chose not to attend their respective successor’s inauguration; the others were his father, John Adams, and Andrew Johnson.

John Adams and John Quincy Adams were the only father and son to serve as presidents until George H. W. Bush (1989–1993) and George W. Bush (2001–2009).

John Quincy Adams is reputed to have the highest I.Q. of any U.S. president. He also spoke the highest number of languages; seven. He was fluent in Dutch, French, Russian, German, Latin, Greek and English.

He predicted that if a Civil War broke out the president could use his war powers to abolish slavery. This is exactly what Abraham Lincoln did with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

John Quincy had a stroke on February 21, 1848 while the House of Representatives was discussing a matter he strongly opposed. When it came to voting he cried “No!” and collapsed. He died two days later on February 23.

His last words were, “Thank the officers of the House [of Representatives]. This is the last of earth. I am content.



Constitution Daily


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Ayomide Akinbode

Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.

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