Born: July 11, 1767
Birthplace: Braintree, Massachusetts
Years as President: 1825-1829
Died: February 23, 1848
John Quincy Adams was the sixth United States president. A brilliant statesman, he was one of the best U.S. Secretaries of State for his role in forging American foreign policy. However, his one term as president was less than stellar. His brilliance later reappeared in his nine consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, the only former president to hold that office after his presidential term expired.
Adams, the son of another president, John Adams, spent his youth mostly tutored by his father. At age 12, he tagged along when his father went to Europe as a foreign diplomat. Precocious, by age 14 he was so fluent in French, the American minister to Russia asked him to travel to Russia as a French translator.
Adams graduated from Harvard and in 1790 became a Boston lawyer. On July 26, 1797, he married Louisa Catherine Johnson, the first president's wife born outside the United States. They had four children, but one died in infancy.
As a foreign minister and Monroe's secretary of state, his diplomacy was brilliant. He artfully helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, the acquisition of Florida from Spain, the peace treaty ending the War of 1812, and he also helped draft the Monroe Doctrine.
In 1824 Adams won the presidential election, but it was mired in controversy. When no candidate received a majority of votes, the House of Representatives, led by Henry Clay, decided the outcome. It chose Adams, but later when Adams appointed Clay as his secretary of state, Andrew Jackson and his followers were incensed. During Adams's four years as president, congressional opposition caused most of Adams's proposed plans to fail. Adams, for his part, was aloof, extremely independent, and did not work at forging political allies in Washington. This proved to be Adams's political downfall. Unpopular with the public and congress, he was able to accomplish few of his plans, and he was defeated in the 1828 election by Andrew Jackson.
After Adams left office, he spent 17 years in the House of Representatives. He was a tireless advocate against slavery and spoke so masterfully in the House that he was labeled "Old Man Eloquent." On February 21, 1848, he suffered a massive stroke on the floor of the House. He died two days later.