John Quincy Adams:  

I read the book “John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life” by Paul C. Nagel.

Nicknames: Old Man Eloquent

Quote: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

Here are some fun facts about our sixth President:

  • he always signed things as “JQA” so he would be distinguished from his father
  • was admitted to Leyden University at age 14
  • travelled to St. Petersburg in 1781-1783 with an aide and friend of his father’s
  • loved Sweden more than any other foreign country he visited
  • was a bit of a party boy on his trip back from Russia to Boston, often staying out with socialites until 4 am and then collapsing in bed from drunkenness
  • wasn’t charged tuition for attending Harvard
  • his favorite color was blue
  • he thought the concept of courtship was humiliating and hated doing it
  • was a member of Phi Beta Kappa
  • he played the flute
  • he desperately wanted to be famous for literary accomplishments and considered himself a poet
  • he suffered from clinical depression on and off throughout his entire life
  • he fell in love at age 22 but his mother, Abigail, broke the two up, believing the girl wasn’t good enough for John
  • was closer to his aunt Elizabeth than to his mother, feeling his mother was pressuring him to be great like his father
  • he permanently damaged his eyes when he looked at a solar eclipse without proper protection
  • political pen name was “Publicola”
  • was somewhat forced into being the American minister to Holland by his father
  • he translated “Oberon” into English in what is now the most widely recognized great English translation
  • his wife, Louisa, suffered 4 miscarriages before giving birth to their first son, George, and she suffered over 8 throughout their lifetimes
  • when George was born, the Prussian royalty blocked off their street to any traffic so Louisa would have peace and quiet for recovery
  • eventually had four children: George, John Adams II, Charles, and a daughter who died before she was one while they were in Russia
  • JQA helped designate and enforce the boundary line between Canada and the U.S.
  • was offered the position of President of Harvard, but turned it down in favor of being the first Oratory and Philosophy professor at the University
  • served as Minister to Russia under President Madison
  • helped to formulate and write the Monroe Doctrine
  • was President Monroe’s Secretary of State
  • he was very close friends with Czar Alexander I and would take almost daily walks with him
  • he declined a seat on the Supreme Court, knowing he couldn’t be non-partisan in his judgments
  • claimed to be a Christian
  • had six leeches put on his eyelid after a gun accident – he was showing his sons how to properly load and fire a pistol and double loaded it with powder…it exploded
  • was elected as President of the American Bible Society
  • favorite foods (via The Awl) – often satisfied with a few crackers and a glass of water for dinner, but he was fond of fruit, enjoying apricots, plums, pears, and apples from the White House orchards
  • his second son, John, was expelled from Harvard for rioting
  • he won the presidency by one vote in the House
  • he was the first President to face serious assassination threats and confronted his would-be assassin face-to-face and talked him out of it
  • nearly drowned during his Presidency while swimming in the Potomac and had to hide naked in the bushes for five hours while his servant went to get him suitable clothes for the President to walk home in, his having washed away
  • he and his father were 2 of the only 3 Presidents to be absent from their successor’s swearing in ceremony
  • one of only 2 Presidents to serve in government after his Presidential terms, he served in Congress
  • his eldest son, George, was assumed to have committed suicide by drowning himself
  • his second son, John, died from alcoholism
  • he fought for the right of the individual to petition government
  • gave eulogies for both Madison and Monroe at their memorial services
  • was the first President to have his photograph taken
  • was the only major political figure to know both the American revolutionary forefathers (Washington, Adams, Madison, Monroe) and Abraham Lincoln
  • was paralyzed by a stroke nearly a year before he died and made a complete recovery
  • died from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1848

<—James Monroe *****  Andrew Jackson —>

Post title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s song “The Presidents”