(7.) JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (1767-1848)
“Old Man Eloquent”
Defeated by James Monroe/Daniel Tompkins, 1820
Adams became Monroe’s Secretary of State and was associated closely in the formulation of the famous “Monroe Doctrine.” He had been a diplomat under Washington and under his father, John Adams. Upon his return to the U. S., Adams was a Massachusetts state senator; then U. S. Senator from Massachusetts, but resigned because of disfavor of his party, The Federalist, for supporting the Embargo Act and other Republican measures.
Adams was primarily responsible for the ceding of Florida to the U. S. by Spain and he secured adoption by Congress of our system of weights and measures. He was elected to the presidency in 1824, but strenuous opposition prevented him from accomplishing much in his one term. He opposed the extension of slavery and the annexation of Texas, and he also opposed the “gag rule” until it was defeated in 1824. During his brilliant congressional career after his defeat for reelection to the presidency, Adams stood for freedom of the Armistead captives (the case of Negroes who mutinied in Spanish ships and were captured off the Long Island Coast by United States ships on their way to New London in 1839).
He was a brilliant orator with a reputation for honesty and firmness in all his dealings. “Born in Revolutionary times, his cradle songs were Songs of Liberty.” His dying words were, “This is the last of earth, and I am content.”