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John Quincy Adams

6th President of the United States (1825-1829)

John Quincy Adams portrait
Original portrait by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1858.
Library of Congress Photograph

The President of the United States serves as the head of the Executive Branch of our United States Government. Over forty men have been privileged to serve in this role.

The picture of John Quincy Adams to the right is a photograph of a portion of a portrait that was painted in 1858 by George Peter Alexander Healy. The 1858 portrait was based on a portrait painted from life in 1845, three years before President Adams' death in 1848. In 1845 John Quincy Adams had completed his term as President of the United States and was serving as a Massachusetts Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In this portrait, John Quincy Adams holds a book in his left hand while sitting in a chair. He is wearing a black waistcoat and high colored white shirt with a white tie.

The original portrait belongs to the White House Historical Association and is part of their White House Collection.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)
Date of birth: July 11, 1767
Birth place: Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts
Mother: Abigail Smith Adams
Father: John Adams, Jr.
Education: Harvard College (graduated 1787)
Profession: Lawyer, Senator, Diplomat
Religion: Unitarian
Marriage: July 26, 1797, to Louisa Catherine Johnson (1775-1852)
Children: George Washington (1801-1829), John (1803-1834), Charles Francis (1807-1886), Louisa George Washington (1801-1829), John (1803-1834), Charles Francis (1807-1886), Louisa Catherine (1811-1812)
Political party: Federalist, Democratic-Republican, Whig
Presidential term: 1825-1829 (One term)
Nickname(s): "Old Man Eloquent"
Date of death: February 23, 1848
Place of death: Washington, D.C.
Resting place: First Unitarian Church, Quincy, Massachusetts
Source: The Whitehouse, www.whitehouse.gov, January 20, 2008
Source: Miller Center of Public Affairs, The University of Virginia, www.millercenter.virginia.edu, January 20, 2008

John Quincy Adams's presidency

  • February 9, 1825: The House of Representatives elects John Quincy Adams President of the United States. The election of 1824 produces an outcome in which none of the four candidates achieve a majority of electoral endorsements. Andrew Jackson receives 99, John Quincy Adams 84, William Crawford 41, and Henry Clay 37. Because no one obtains the required constitutional majority, the election is remanded to the House of Representatives. In what Jackson proponents denounce as the “corrupt bargain,” Speaker Henry Clay resolves to throw his votes behind Adams, presumably, to secure the helm of the State Department. As President, Adams nominates Clay to be secretary of state. Jackson is furious, abdicates his Senate seat, and vows to run again in 1828.
  • March 4, 1825: John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States and son of John Adams, the second President, makes his inaugural address. An intellectual, Adams will fail to assemble public support during his one term in office, often denounced as an aristocrat. In this address, Adams sets forth his policies bluntly, alienating many in Congress. A central feature of the Adams administration will be the opening and expansion of trade relationships with South America and the Caribbean colonies, which are formalized between the United States and several European powers in the General Reciprocity Act of 1824.
  • July 7, 1825: Captain David Porter, a perennial thorn in the side of the United States Navy, is court-martialed for overstepping his powers when he chooses to land 200 troops at Fajardo, Puerto Rico, in November 1824. Porter demands an apology from the port’s captain for the detention of two errant U.S. officers. Despite the court marshal, the American public proves largely sympathetic to Porter’s insubordination. The court marshal fails to reach a decision.
  • October, 1825: The Tennessee legislature nominates Andrew Jackson their presidential challenger for the 1828 election.
  • October 26, 1825: The first passage on the 363 mile-long Erie Canal is completed from Lake Erie to New York City, linking the Atlantic and trans-Atlantic marketplaces with growing agricultural production in the Northwest states. Construction of the canal began in 1817. During his presidential term, Adams strongly supports national planning of and the use of national funds for an improved transportation infrastructure.
  • May, 1826: Military standardization and integration of Union and state militias is a foremost concern during the Adams administration. In response to a proposal by the secretary of war to revamp military organization and seniority systems, a joint House and Senate resolution calls for the production and dispersal of training manuals.
  • July 4, 1826: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, founding fathers and former Presidents, both die.
  • November, 1826: Under the mediation of Czar Nicholas I, President Adams finalizes a settlement with the British over restitution for damages incurred during the War of 1812, left unresolved by the Treaty of Ghent.
  • March, 1827: Adams proclaims all American ports closed to trade with British colonies, suspending disagreements from an era of protracted contention with the British over tariffs, navigation and duties. Adams’s declaration embodies his response to a rising Continental cartel of exclusive trading relationships.
  • December, 1827: Additional European states are incorporated into the MFN trade system, the pre-conditions of commercial growth being ‘neutral rights,’ which began in April 1826.
  • January, 1828: Nicholas Biddle of the Bank of the United States implements the sale of government securities to curtail the outward flow of specie. This policy results in propositions by Congress for the public sale of United States Bank stock.
  • January, 1828: Joel Poinsett accedes to a Mexican boundary settlement on behalf of the United States. This concludes a slew of unsuccessful efforts by Adams to negotiate more favorable borders than the existing Sabine River.
  • February, 1828: Antonio José Cañaz, Guatemalan minister to the United States, proposes the construction of a canal adjoining the Pacific and Atlantic through Nicaragua. The United States is receptive, spearheading a flurry of American and international bids for surveying, building, and operation contracts. Although local instability derails the experiment, the effort is an important demonstration of the supremacy of the United States’s influence in Central America.
  • May 11, 1828: Proposed by South Carolinian and Vice President John Calhoun in an attempt to bolster support for Andrew Jackson’s bid for President, Congress passes a new tariff bill. The plan calls for incredibly high tariffs on raw materials to accommodate Western interests and on British woolens to appease New England interests. Calhoun believed Jackson supporters in the Northeast would back the bill while Jackson men in the South and Southwest, generally opposed to protectionism, would oppose it; he expects the bill to fail. The Tariff angers many, including the Virginia state legislature, which terms the law the “Tariff of Abominations.” The bill’s passage effectively ends Adams’s hopes for reelection and increases support for Jackson who appears as a free-trade advocate to the South and a protectionist to the North. Calhoun, meanwhile, anonymously pens the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, which advocates a state’s right to nullify federal laws which it opposes and deems unconstitutional.
  • November, 1828: Andrew Jackson, running on the Democratic ticket, ends Adams’s bid for reelection. The Tennessee native wins the election with 56 percent of the popular vote and 178 electoral votes to Adams’s 83.
  • March 4, 1829: Andrew Jackson is swore in as the seventh President of the United States.

Source: Miller Center of Public Affairs, The University of Virginia, www.millercenter.virginia.edu,January 20, 2008

John Quincy Adams's cabinet
Vice President: John Caldwell Calhoun (1825-1829)
Secretary of State: Henry Clay (1825 - 1829)
Secretary of War: James Barbour (1825 - 1828), Peter Buell Porter (1828 - 1829)
Postmaster General: John McLean (1825 - 1829)
Secretary of the Treasury: Richard Rush (1825 - 1829)
Attorney General: William Wirt (1825 - 1829)
Secretary of the Navy: Samuel Lewis Southard (1825 - 1829)
Source: Miller Center of Public Affairs, The University of Virginia, www.millercenter.virginia.edu, January 20, 2008

John Quincy Adams Presidential $1 Coin — Sixth President, 1825-1829

John Quincy Adams Presidential Coin
U.S. Mint image

John Quincy Adams was born into politics as the son of second U.S. President John Adams and Abigail Adams. As a child, he watched the American Revolution unfold and accompanied his father on his diplomatic posts to Europe. He followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a diplomat in Europe and, later, the sixth U.S. president.

Adams became president by the slimmest of margins in a controversial election that was ultimately decided in the US House of Representatives by one vote.

As president, Adams proposed a wide system of roads and canals to stimulate the economy and foster trade throughout the Nation. During his administration, the Cumberland road was extended into Ohio, and several major canal systems were begun.

After his unsuccessful bid for re-election, Adams went on to serve nine terms in the US House of Representatives. He and Andrew Johnson, 17th president, are the only two former presidents to later serve in Congress.

Coinage Legislation under President John Quincy Adams

Act of May 19, 1828: This Act:

  • directs the location of the United States Mint to remain in Philadelphia indefinitely;
  • establishes a standard weight for the Mint’s use;
  • makes provisions for payment for the testing of silver bullion brought to the Mint for coinage;
  • authorizes employment of clerks at the Mint; and
  • authorizes the Director of the Mint to assay bullion not intended for coinage and to issue certificates of fineness at the owners’ expense.

United States Mint Directors appointed by President Washington

  • President John Quincy Adams did not appoint a Director of the United States Mint.

Louisa Adams First Spouse $10 Gold Coin - First Lady, 1825–1829

Louisa Adams First Lady Coin
U.S. Mint image
Louisa Adams First Lady Coin (reverse)
U.S. Mint image

The only first lady to be born outside the U.S., Louisa Catherine Johnson was born in 1775 in London to an American father and British mother. The family moved to France when she was three, where she completed her education. She met John Quincy Adams while he was serving in a diplomatic post in London and they married in 1797. Her first time on American soil came in 1801 when John Quincy was called back from diplomatic service by President Jefferson. She finally met her in-laws, former president John Adams and the formidable Abigail Adams, at that time.

Louisa Adams was an accomplished musician whose talents included singing, playing the harp and piano, and composing. A prolific author, she penned both poetry and drama. She authored a play titled Suspicion, or Persecuted Innocence while she served as first lady, in which she stressed the strengths of women. She was the first first lady to write her memoirs, entitled Adventures of a Nobody.

Reverse Design

For nearly six years, from 1809–1815, Louisa and John Quincy Adams lived as American diplomats in the Russian capital of St. Petersburg. In 1814, John Quincy was summoned to The Hague to participate in peace talks to end the War of 1812. In 1815, she and her 8-year-old son Charles began an arduous journey across much of Europe to join her husband in Paris. While alone in Russia, Louisa not only managed the family’s affairs, but her courage and linguistic talents helped the two of them find safe passage through unfamiliar and often dangerous lands.

Source: The United States Mint, www.usmint.gov, July 8, 2008

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