John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, second President of the United States, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, on July 11, 1767. When he was 11, he traveled with his father to Europe and went to school in France and Germany, and at 14, he went to Russia to serve as Secretary for the American minister. Directly after that he became secretary for his father, who at the time, was helping to write the peace treaty that ended the American Revolution.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1787 and began to study law. President Washington sent him to one European country after another to represent the United States. He was married to Louisa Catherine Johnson on July 26, 1797 and they had three sons. His wife was British — the only first lady born on foreign soil.
When his father became President in 1797, the younger Adams was elected to the Senate as a member of the Federalist Party, but like his father and George Washington, he never believed in political parties. He voted for what he thought was right, and shortly began to agree more with the Democratic-Republican Party than his own. As a result, he lost his office after one term. President Madison, a Democratic-Republican, sent Adams to Europe in 1814, where he helped write the peace treaty that ended the war of 1812.
When James Monroe became President in 1817, he appointed John Adams as Secretary of State. He became a remarkable Secretary of State for those years. He settled the quarrel between the United States and England over the Oregon Territory, he wrote the treaty that won Florida for the United States from Spain, and he was an important framer of the Monroe Doctrine. The election of 1824 was a close contest between General Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. Neither candidate won a electoral majority. Having placed second, Adams was elected by the House of Representatives, becoming the first son of a President to become President.
Jackson and his followers were angry, and as a result, Adams had a lonely and unproductive four years in the White House. At the next election of 1828, Jackson defeated Adams. Two years later, Adams won a seat in Congress and served the next 17 years as a Massachusetts congressman. He fought for things he believed in, established the Smithsonian Institution, and worked against slavery and for civil rights and free speech. For his passionate speeches, he earned the nickname “Old Man Eloquent.”
He died at work at his desk on February 21, 1848.