Who: John Quincy Adams
What: 6th President of the United States, diplomat, Senator, member of the House of Representatives
Where: Born Braintree, Massachusetts (now Quincy); died Washington D.C.
Why: First President to have been son of another President, first President elected despite losing the popular vote, first to serve in Congress after serving in the Presidency, first to have his photograph taken
When: Born July 11, 1767; died February 23, 1848 (aged 80)
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” – John Quincy Adams
If any man was born to be President, John Quincy Adams was it. He enjoyed a privileged childhood, personally witnessing the Battle of Bunker Hill from his family estate and accompanying his father on his many trips abroad. He served as a Senator and Foreign Minister before James Monroe selected him as his Secretary of State. As a phenomenally effective Secretary, he established the U.S.-Canada border, the acquisition of Florida and helping to create the Monroe Doctrine. In 1824, he participated in one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history. With Andrew Jackson winning the popular vote 41.4% to Adams’ 30.9%, the election went to the House of Representatives with no clear majority. Speaker of the House Henry Clay, who detested Jackson, swayed the electoral college vote in Adams’ favour, which prompted Jackson to declare the election ‘a corrupt bargain’.
As one of four presidents to have not won the popular vote, the election severely weakened Adams’ administration and the office of the president, as many lost faith in the ‘democracy’ that had ignored their popular vote. Adams was essentially a lame duck for his term in office, with his perceived illegitimacy compounded by his inability to work with opposition in Congress. Adams passed law for U.S. infrastructural improvements, creating roads and canals to help with the massive rate of growth the United States was experiencing. He lost the election of 1828 to Jackson, and returned to the House of Representatives before his death in 1848, aged 80.