c. 1844. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, USA. Read Note.
John Quincy Adams was a diplomat and sixth president of the United States. He was born on 11 July, 1767 in Quincy, Massachusetts, as the son of ex-president John Adams and his wife Abigail. Much of his youth was spent abroad, accompanying his father, and later ambassador Francis Dana, on multiple diplomatic missions to France, the Netherlands Russia, and several other countries. Consequently it was also in Europe that he got his early education in various institutes. Upon returning to the United States he went to Harvard College, from which he successfully graduated in 1787.
His political career began in 1794, when George Washington appointed him ambassador to the Netherlands. John, who hadn’t actually sought political involvement, initially wanted to decline the position, but was convinced to accept by his parents. This happened again in 1796 when he was appointed ambassador to Portugal. By this time John was bent on turning down the offer, but was touched and changed his mind upon hearing that Washington had praised his diplomatic abilities most highly, going so far as calling him the “most valuable official” that the United States had abroad.
Adams was thirty when his father became president, and was appointed ambassador to Prussia at Washington’s recommendation. While abroad he finally married his wife, Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, to whom he’d proposed nearly five years prior on one of his earlier excursions to Europe. Upon the termination of his diplomatic duties and subsequent return to the United States he ran and was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate in 1802. The following year he was selected to serve on the US Senate by the General Court of Massachusetts, resigning in 1808. John continued his diplomatic career under James Madison, who appointed him the first United States Ambassador to Russia in 1809.
When James Monroe became president, he selected Adams to serve as his Secretary of State in 1817. Adams’ most prominent achievements in his new position include the Florida Treaty of 1819, Treaty of 1818 and the Monroe Doctrine, which was introduced in 1823. After his term as Secretary ended in 1825, he ran for President and was elected. During his stay in office he focused primarily on domestic affairs and improvements, such as building roads and other infrastructure.
After his presidential term expired Adams served on the House of Representatives from 1831 until his death, getting reelected a consecutive eight times. While in Congress, Adams was a strong abolitionist and proponent of slave rights, on at least one occasion even arguing for the freedom of African slaves who had mutinied and commandeered an illegal Spanish slave ship.
Adams died on 23 February, 1848, in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., two days after suffering a severe cerebral hemorrhage