John Quincy Adams as President
John Quincy Adams accomplished many things during his lifetime; most of his accomplishments came before ever becoming president in 1824.
In 1794, John Quincy Adams became the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands; later he became the U.S. ambassador to Prussia, a member of the Massachusetts State Senate, and a member of the U.S. Senate. In 1814, John Quincy Adams helped James Madison to work through the organization of the Treaty of Ghent. Through this treaty, they saw the end of the War of 1812.
In addition to the Treaty of Ghent, John Quincy Adams played a huge developmental role in James Monroe’s Monroe Doctrine. This policy stated that the Americas could not be further colonized by any of the European nations.
Finally, in 1824, John Quincy Adams ran for President of the United States. However, he had some pretty stiff competition. Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, William H. Crawford, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson made for a crowded field. At the time, Congress would hold a nominating Caucus where they would select the candidates they believed should run for the presidency and vice presidency (in those days, presidents didn’t get to choose their vice presidents).
Let’s look at the candidates in a bit more depth:
James Monroe’s Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun was responsible for leading America into the War of 1812 against Great Britain. Once the Treaty of Ghent settled the war conflict, Calhoun established the Second Bank of the United States. Despite these and many more accomplishments, Calhoun dropped out of the presidential race into running for Vice President. He was nominated and elected to that position.
Also in the race was James Monroe’s Secretary of the Treasury, William H. Crawford. A year prior to becoming Secretary of the Treasury, he was the Secretary of War for Monroe’s Cabinet. In 1815, Crawford ran for the presidency as the leading candidate until deciding to give the presidency to Monroe for a second term. Of course, in 1824 he ran against Adams for the presidential position.
Adams also ran against Henry Clay. Throughout his life, Clay served as a statesman, congressman, and senator for the United States. Additionally, Clay has significant involvement in the national bank, the Missouri Compromise, and the Compromise of 1850. He ran for president three times during his life with zero success.
Lastly of the candidates, Adams ran against Speaker of the House, Andrew Jackson. In 1814, he led U.S. troops in the Battle of New Orleans. A few years later in 1818, Jackson led a controversial invasion of Florida, ruffling the feathers of his future running mates. The year before running for president in 1824, Jackson was elected to the United States Senate.
Now that we know a little bit about the men Adams was up against, we can get into the details of Adams’ presidency. During the election, Henry Clay eventually gave his vote to Adams which allowed Adams to win officially. Because of this, Adams appointed Clay as his Secretary of State.
Adams began his presidential term in March of 1825 as the sixth President of the United States. During his presidency, his desires were centered on national trade relations; he wanted to strengthen the exchange of goods between the north and the south. To do so, he sought the construction of roads and canals for transporting goods across the states. In addition to more advanced internal trading, Adams also desired to see an advancement in education for the people of the United States. He wanted to develop a nationwide university system through which people could obtain thorough educations.
Adams was also interested in worldwide relations, particularly with Great Britain. After the War of 1812, during his presidential term, Adams tried to resolve some unhandled tensions. His efforts to appease Britain and bring peace to their relations failed, which put the United States in an even worse position than before. Adams’ presidency was known to many as being corrupt. Do you remember what I mentioned earlier about Henry Clay supporting Adams in the last leg of the presidential race? Yeah, well no one else really cared for that. Jackson and a few others were spinning this relationship between Clay and Adams into something of ill intent. They were telling the public and other officials that Clay intentionally gave up his spot in the race to support Adams with the understanding that he would hold the most powerful cabinet position as Secretary of State.
If that wasn’t enough bad representation, Adams signed what would come to be known as the Tariff of Abominations. This Tariff imposed a 38% tax on about 92% of all goods imported. This Tariff significantly hindered the south as well as New England. Adams eventually lost to Jackson in the presidential race of 1828, officially ending his presidential term in March of 1829. This was significant because all the presidents before him had served more than one term.
Later in 1830, John Quincy Adams was elected into the House of Representatives and served until his death in 1848.
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- “John Quincy Adams.” HISTORY. February 11, 2019
- “Treaty of Ghent.” HISTORY. November 9, 2009
- “Monroe Doctrine.” History. A&E Television Networks. November 9, 2009
- “John C. Calhoun.” HISTORY. A&E Television Networks. November 9, 2009
- “William H. Crawford | United States Government Official.” n.d. Encyclopedia Britannica
- Heidler, David S, and Jeanne T Heidler. 2019. “Henry Clay | American Statesman.” In Encyclopædia Britannica
- “Andrew Jackson: Winner and Loser in 1824.” 2016. HistoryNet