John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) was the sixth president of the United States (1822–1829). At fourteen years of age, he served as secretary to the American minister to Russia, and later as his father’s secretary during peace negotiations with Britain. Returning to America in 1785, he completed his studies at Harvard, and began to practice law. In 1794, George Washington commissioned him to be American minister to the Netherlands. Remaining in Europe, he also served as minister to Berlin before returning home. In 1803, he was elected to the US Senate, where his independent views placed him at odds with his own Federalist Party, leading him to resign in 1808.

In 1809, he returned to Europe as minister to Russia. Declining an appointment to the Supreme Court, Adams was a member of the peace mission that ended the War of 1812. In 1817, James Monroe appointed Adams secretary of state. In that office, he obtained Florida for the United States, and helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine. When Monroe’s term expired, after a fiercely contested election finally decided in the House of Representatives, Adams assumed the presidency. Andrew Jackson, the front-runner until Adams gained the support of Henry Clay’s electors, charged that there had been “corrupt bargain,” a claim that was successfully revived in the next presidential contest. John Quincy, the second one-term Adams president, returned to politics in 1830 as a member of the House of Representatives. His Congressional career was marked by his passionate fight against the gag rule and his advocacy of freedom for all men, beliefs that were shown to good effect in his successful defense of the Africans who had revolted on board the slave ship Amistad. In 1848, Adams suffered a stroke while sitting in the House, and expired in the Speaker’s chambers.

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