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John Quincy Adams Becomes President

John Quincy Adams Becomes President

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After serving as the first Vice President of the United States, John Quincy Adams won the Presidential election over Thomas Jefferson to become the second President of the United States in 1797. President Adams' inaugural address was given to congress in the Hall of House of Representatives in the Federal Building in Philadelphia. This speech occurred on Saturday, March 4, 1797. The majority of Adams' inaugural address was focused on acknowledging the achievements that had been made by the country in its relatively short existence. The heroic efforts of the founding fathers and the American people during the Revolutionary War, the victories experienced in the Revolutionary War, the creating and signing of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution, and the forming of the United States government were some of the achievements that were acknowledged by Adams in his speech. This was not the only topic addressed in Adams' inaugural address. He also dedicated the closing portion of his speech to the goals and responsibilities of the American people. Adams instructed Congress that he, they, and the American people should never lose sight of the dangers of losing our liberties, should always be grateful for their new found freedom and responsibilities, should always show their gratitude to mankind, and should always be filled with a sense of spirit, faith, honor, duty, and interest.

John Quincy Adams was born on July 11, 1767. Like his father, it was expected that he would attend Harvard College and choose a worthy vocation. In addition to an education, John Quincy had opportunities that his father did not have. John Quincy was still a boy when he traveled to France and the Netherlands with his father. While they were in Europe, John Quincy had the opportunity to work as secretary to Francis Dana, who was to travel to Russia to secure assistance for the American colonists. Therefore, at the age of fourteen, John Quincy was already actively involved in his country's politics.

Much of John Quincy's education was independently acquired since he changed schools so many times, and was occasionally in places where education was either too costly or not at all available. However, once the war was over and his father was appointed to the Court of St. James in Britain, John Quincy was sent back to America to attend Harvard. This was despite John Quincy's objections and the fact that he already had been acting as secretary for his father, had been part of the adult world.

In addition, the officials at Harvard were reluctant to admit him to the school. John Quincy was required to spend months studying the classics, had to undergo a rigorous examination, but was finally admitted to Harvard. Once there, however, it was clear that he did not fit in with his peers. His worldly travels made him more mature than his peers, and more tolerant and supportive of self-expression than the tutors at Harvard.

John Quincy's support of self-expression foretold of his later independent thinking and unwillingness to follow his party and vote along party lines once he was elected to the Senate.

Like his father, John Quincy was a diplomat for his country. He was in Holland during the time of his engagement to Louisa Johnson, which resulted in a long engagement.
Later, John Quincy's marriage to Louisa produced three sons:

  • George
  • John
  • Charles

And, though he was away from his family on numerous occasions, John Quincy was more affected by these separations than his father was when he was away from Abigail and his children.

However, like his father, John Quincy insisted that his sons receive the best education, that they work hard, and that they strive to achieve greatness. His ultimate goal was likely that they follow in his footsteps as he was following his father's path.

John Quincy was a diplomat during the War of 1812 and was part of the team that negotiated the Treaty of Ghent. Following this success, John Quincy was appointed as Secretary of State under President Monroe. But that was not the end of his political career.

John Quincy Adams won the White House in 1829 amid controversy and claims of underhanded dealings between Adams and his opponent Henry Clay. The House of Representatives was called upon to make the determination of who should be president since there was no clear winner in the election involving Jackson, Adams, Crawford, and Clay. Making the presidency that much more controversial was the fact that Southerner Jackson won the popular vote.

John Quincy's presidency was not particularly noteworthy, since he was faced with considerable opposition from Jackson supporters. But he continued his political life, even after his defeat by Jackson in his bid for re-election. He was elected to serve in Congress representing the state of Massachusetts. John Quincy continued to serve his country and his state up until the last days of his life. In fact, he was in Congress the day that he collapsed and slipped into a coma.

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