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John Quincy Adams

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“Old Man Eloquent”

John Quincy Adams, “Old Man Eloquent” , our sixth president. Historians have not been generous in judging the presidency of Adams. Those who have supported Adams’ administration have, at the same time, practically ignored his service in the White House. However, there are critics who have described his administration as a failure, founded upon “bargaining and corruption,” and marked the ineffectiveness of its efforts to promote strong Pan-American relationships and the endorsement of the “tariff of abominations.” One of the first controversial topics in our history! Quincy is my favorite president because he went from being loved to being looked at as a scandal. He has a great story that explains a lot about how the system can work for you and make you a failure all at once.

John Quincy Adams was no “greenhorn” to politics. He had spent his entire life in the political realm. His father, John Adams (the second US president), was a major influence. A Harvard graduate, John Quincy was educated not only in law, but also in diplomacy. He was an experienced lawyer and statesman long before his running for president in 1824. Adams had already been a big player under President Monroe. He played a large role in the development of the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine warned European nations not to get involve in the affairs of the western hemispheres. With all of his experience, he proceeded towards the presidency after his service as Secretary of State, under President Monroe. His election was an invigorating race against Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and W.H. Crawford. Jackson won the popular vote by a landslide, while Quincy came in second, but Jackson became thirty-two votes short in the Electoral College. Per the twelfth amendment, the House of Representatives voted for whom would become president. Adams won the election by one vote, which was credited to Clay, whom there was accusations of bargaining with Adams’ for his position as Secretary of State.

Once John Q. Adams became president, he had his own leadership style in addition to other administrational challenges that disabled him to govern the way he felt was ideal. These challenges caused more failures than successes. The first challenge he encountered was Jackson and his supporters called Jacksonians. Jackson had many connections, and was very influential in the senate. Jackson was very bitter about the 1824 election and after losing he put all his efforts into making sure Adams wouldn’t serve another term. Jackson was later able to use Adams’ other challenges as slander in the 1828 election. Adams’ troubles with foreign affaires and scandals were also used against him. Though Adams signed the Adams-Onis Treaty, he later broke it and attempted to purchase Texas which gave him bad PR in the political community. One of his first struggles was the Panama Congress, which only lead the spiral of disappointments. He was also denied a seat in the senate from the Federalist because of his support for the Louisiana Purchase; he then joined the Republican Party instead. With all of his challenges from having dishonest employees to his stressful, and deceitful relationship with the Spaniards his administration only continued to fail. Given Adams’ character and personality of being blunt and straight to the point, it is no surprise that he described his own term as, “A near total failure.”

In the election of 1828 he lost to Andrew Jackson, who had 178 electoral votes to Adams’ 83 . Adams was always respected, sometimes admired, but rarely liked. It wasn’t until after his presidency the public’s attitude toward him slowly changed. People around him and finally the whole nation began identify the honesty and devotion beneath his rigid surface. As elder statesman, he received the affection that was never his before. His best years in public office came after his presidency, when he was elected to the House of Representatives. I can say that I admire John Quincy Adams’ love and devotion to his county. He was a truly dedicated countryman. I think our current representatives could learn a “thing or two” from this man. When the country was new and fresh, so was the love for it. All Adams knew was diplomacy and he was a strong man because of his dedication. He didn’t change much during his reign, but he did change the way people looked at him. During his administration, he didn’t have the following he wished for, or maybe even deserved, but he did not give up on his country. He stuck to his guns and went down fighting. These are the reasons I like John Quincy Adams. He was strong at heart, but not as a leader because people found him to be a hypocrite.


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