Served: March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
Born: July 11, 1767
Birthplace: Braintree, Massachusetts Bay
Died: February 23, 1848
Political Party: Federalist (pre-1808), Democratic-Republican (1808-1830), National Republican (1830-1834), Anti-Masonic (1834-1838), Whig (1838-1848)
Spouse: Louisa Johnson
John Quincy Adams: Like Father, Like Son
If you were a child, you may have thought you would someday like to follow in your father’s footsteps. John Quincy Adams was not only the sixth president of the United States, but he also had to live up to his father’s legacy as the second U.S. president.
Adams became known in his own right when he stepped into the White House, but long before he became president, he was gaining attention for his role as an American diplomat.
Adams helped secure various international treaties, and as secretary of state he negotiated the continued growth of the American nation by securing the purchase of Florida and expanding the northern border shared with Canada.
A Son Accompanies His Father
Adams began traveling overseas at a young age while accompanying the senior Adams in Europe as an American envoy. These trips included visits to France, the Netherlands, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark.
On his return to the United States, he enrolled in Harvard College, and in 1787 he graduated with a B.A. Like many of his contemporaries, Adams chose to go into law and was admitted to the bar in 1791. He began a thriving practice in Boston shortly thereafter.
Adams met his future wife, Louisa Catherine Johnson, during his European travels, and to this day she is the only first lady to be born abroad. Together, they had four children: three boys and one girl who died shortly after her first birthday.
John Quincy Adams’s Pets
- Alligator given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette; the gator actually lived in a White House bathroom, leaving some guests terrified.
- Silkworms belonging to Mrs. Louisa Adams
MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets
Persuaded into Politics
Adams began his political career under George Washington’s administration. His first appointment was as minister to the Netherlands, which his father had talked him into accepting. Washington thought highly of the younger Adams and appointed him as minister to Portugal. When his father became president, young Adams was appointed as minster to Prussia, again with Washington’s approval.
In addition to his foreign ministry posts, Adams served as a senator and a congressional representative before being elected as president in 1824.
During his presidency, Adams championed the cause of education and worked hard at paying off most of the national debt. Like his father, he served only a single term, and in fact, he was the second president to do so, his father being the first.
While he may not have initially been eager to live a life of service, after his presidency Adams went on to serve as a Massachusetts representative, the only president to date to be elected into the House after presidency.
Did You Know…?
- As a young boy, Adams began keeping a diary at age 12 and continued journaling for the rest of his life. There are about 50 volumes to his firsthand account of life in the late 1700s to early 1800s.
- Adams met his future wife, Louisa Catherine Johnson, in France when she was 4 and he was 12. Of course, they did not become engaged until much later when they met again in London. By this time, Louisa was in her 20s and Adams in his 30s. Because Louisa was born outside the United States, the senior John Adams did not at first approve of the union, but he later warmed up to his future daughter-in-law.
- Adams did not initially want to live the life of a politician, but he was convinced of his calling by George Washington, who appointed him as minister to Portugal. Washington convinced the young Adams that he was talented as an American official and helped to launch Adams’s distinguished career.