John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams
Our lesson today deals with another member of the Adams family. Who was the first member of this family that we talked about? It was Sam Adams, patriot and father of the American Revolution. The second was John Adams, second President and rated third as a leader of the American Revolution. He is ranked behind Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
Who is the third member of this family? He is John Quincy Adams, the son of John and Abigail Adams. He was born in Braintree, Massachusetts (now Quincy) in 1767. He was educated at schools in France and Holland and graduated from Harvard University Law School.
His diplomatic and political accomplishments are without parallel. In fact, President Jack Kennedy in his book Profiles in Courage said, and I quote, “John Quincy Adams held more important offices and participated in more important events than anyone in the history of this country and he possessed an integrity unsurpassed among the major political figures in all of our history.”
Now let us look at some of the accomplishments of this man. He served as Minister to Holland and as Emissary to England, Minister to Prussia, a Massachusetts State Senator, United States Senator, Minister to Russia, head of the American mission to negotiate peace with England during the War of 1812, Minister to England, Secretary of State under President Monroe, and President of the United States.
Following his one term as President, he served for 17 years in the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. In this regard, he stands alone. He is the only person in our history to retire from the Presidency and then be elected to the House of Representatives. When asked to run for Congress from the Plymouth District of Massachusetts, he agreed to accept the nomination provided: (1) he would not have to promote himself as a candidate and ask for votes and (2) he would pursue a course in Congress completely independent of the party and the people who elected him. On this basis, Adams was elected by an overwhelming vote and served in the House until his death.
During his service in the House, he aroused the enmity of Southern Congressmen by presenting to the House petitions from various persons calling for the abolition of slavery. Southern Congressmen finally were able to have the House pass a resolution to the effect that no more petitions would be accepted on this issue. John Quincy Adams opposed this action—calling it a “gag rule” that violated the Constitution and his rights as a Congressman to present petitions although he knew they would be rejected. After that, at each session of Congress he sponsored a resolution to repeal the “Gag Rule.” He was threatened with expulsion. Finally after 8 years, he was able to have this unfair rule repealed.
Henry Cabot Lodge, a prominent citizen of Massachusetts in the 20th Century in an article entitled “The Right of Petition” states, and I quote, “No more memorable fight has ever been made by one man in a parliamentary body.”
Of particular interest to us here in Florida were the negotiations carried on by John Quincy Adams with Spain while he was Secretary of State under President Monroe. In these negotiations, he was able to purchase Florida for the magnificent amount of 5 million dollars, and most of this amount was to be paid to American citizens who had claims against the Spanish government. For this deal alone we should honor the name of John Quincy Adams.
John Quincy Adams lived to a ripe old age. He died at the age of 81. Here is an unusual and interesting circumstance concerning his death. He was stricken with paralysis on the floor of the House of Representatives, where he had served so faithfully. It was a fitting end for a great public servant.

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