Reader's Encyclopedia

Adams, John Quincy (1767 - 1848)

Sixth president of the U.S. (1825 - 29). Adams accompanied his father, John Adams, to France in 1778, studied in European schools, and was graduated from Harvard in 1787. In 1791, in a series of eleven articles signed Publicola, he replied to Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, defending the rights of the minority in opposition to Paine's contention that the majority must prevail. After holding several diplomatic posts, Adams became secretary of state in 1817; he secured Florida from Spain in 1819 and was largely responsible for the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. In 1824 Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William H. Crawford were the four candidates for the presidency. Since no candidate received a majority of the electoral votes, the election was given to the House of Representatives. Clay threw his support to Adams, who was elected, and when Adams named Clay secretary of state, Jackson's followers cried "corrupt bargain." This charge, though undoubtedly baseless, hounded Adams during his term of office and contributed to his defeat in 1828. In 1830 he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served for nearly seventeen years, opposing the annexation of Texas and defending free speech in the face of efforts to stifle debate on the slavery question. Adams's diary, covering more than sixty years, was edited by his son, Charles Francis Adams, and published in twelve volumes as The Memoirs of John Quincy Adams (1874-77).

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