|John Quincy Adams, the 6th President of the United States|
1. John Quincy Adams was born in Massachusetts in 1767, the son of John and Abigail Adams. His namesake and maternal great-grandfather was John Quincy, a colonial British politician and military officer. Adams' middle name was pronounced "Quinzy."
2. Adams spent much of his childhood in Europe with his father, earning a degree from Leiden University, in the Netherlands, when he was only 14 years old. After his return to the United States in the mid-1780's, he studied law at Harvard and opened a practice in Boston in 1791. He was fluent in most of the languages of Europe.
3. Though he initially resisted the urge to follow his father into a life of public service, he reluctantly agreed to serve in several overseas diplomatic posts during the Washington administration, and following those services, he remained in politics for the rest of his life. Under Washington, he served first as the minister to the Netherlands, and later to Portugal. During his father's administration in the late 1790's, he served as minister to Prussia.
4. While serving in his father's administration, Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson. Louisa's father was an American diplomat in London, and her mother was British. Louisa and her siblings were all born in Great Britain, making Louisa Adams the only First Lady in U.S. history who was born and raised in a foreign country. Together they had four children; in 1848, their youngest son, Charles Francis Adams, would run for vice-president with former president Martin Van Buren on the ticket of the Free Soil Party.
5. After his father lost his re-election bid to Thomas Jefferson in 1800, Adams returned from Europe and began practicing law again. He ran for Congress in 1802 and lost. Following this, however, the Massachusetts legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate (direct election, by popular vote, of U.S. Senators would not occur until the 17th Amendment was passed in the early 20th century). Following his term in the Senate, Adams returned again to diplomacy, serving under James Madison as the minister to Russia and later Great Britain.
6. In 1817, Adams became Secretary of State for James Monroe, serving until 1825. In that office, Adams was instrumental in obtaining Florida from the Spanish, establishing the modern border between Canada and the United States (in the Treaty of 1818), and authoring the influential Monroe Doctrine, which asserted U.S. interests in North and South America against European influence.
7. Adams was nominated for president in 1824, running against three other candidates in an election that is among the most controversial in U.S. history. When the votes were counted, Andrew Jackson had the most popular votes and electoral votes, but not enough electoral votes to win the presidency (the Constitution requires the winning candidate to have a clear majority of the electoral votes). As a result, the election was sent to the House of Representatives for a Constitutionally-required run-off election. Speaker of the House Henry Clay was an opponent of Andrew Jackson and used his influence to sway the House to support Adams. They elected him on the first ballot and Adams immediately rewarded Clay by making him the new Secretary of State.
8. Andrew Jackson was, needless to say, displeased with the result of the House run-off and accused Adams and Clay of corruption and backroom dealing. With virtually no electoral mandate to speak of, and the enmity of Jackson's supporters in Congress, Adams' presidency was doomed almost from the start. He served only one term before being decisively defeated in a rematch against Jackson in 1828. The two men had become such bitter enemies that Jackson refused to pay the traditional courtesy call to Adams in the final weeks of Adams' term, and Adams did not attend Jackson's inauguration.
9. Following his term as president, Adams became a respected elder statesman and, in 1830, was elected to the House of Representatives, serving 17 years. He is the only U.S. president to serve in the House after his presidency. In 1843, he had a series of photographs taken, making him the earliest-serving president to be photographed. During his last term in Congress, he served alongside Illinois representative Abraham Lincoln, making him possibly the only man in U.S. history who personally knew George Washington and the other prominent Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln.
10. Adams collapsed on the floor of Congress during a debate in February 1848 of an apparent stroke. He died two days later in a room inside the Capitol building. He was buried next to his parents in Quincy, Massachusetts.