August 9, 2012
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS II
JFK's book highlights the stories of eight United States Senators who risked their political careers to pursue justice.
In the introduction to the Memorial Edition, Robert Kennedy writes:
"Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. That is why this book so fitted his personality, his beliefs."
JFK Library Image
The title of Chapter II is John Quincy Adams.*
*John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), the son of John Adams, 2nd President of the United States, was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard, & served in the U.S. Senate as a Federalist from 1803-1808. While in the Senate, Adams also taught Rhetoric at Harvard. He was elected 6th U.S. President in 1824 & served a single term 1825-1829.
Senator Kennedy tells us that John Quincy Adams "became increasingly contemptuous of the Federalist party."
JFK explains this was because as an American nationalist who lived much of his life in Europe, his primary focus was national rather than parochial.
"His guiding star was the principle of Puritan statesmanship his father had laid down many years before: 'The magistrate is the servant not of his own desires, nor even of the people, but of his God.'"
While Senator Kennedy believes we would admire Adams' courage & determination today, we probably would not like him so much as a person.
When Adams took the same side as President Jefferson on the Embargo Bill in 1807, a Bostonian refused to attend a dinner at which the Senator was present saying, 'I would not sit at the same table with that renegade.'
John Quincy Adams' stand on principle would cost him his seat in the United States Senate.
"Hated by the Federalists & suspected by the Republicans, John Quincy Adams returned to private life."**
**After his term as President of the United States, JQA returned to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives where he was known as "Old Man Eloquent."
Adams wrote in his diary:
"I am a member.....of the 22nd Congress. No election or appointment....ever gave me so much pleasure. My election as President of the United States was not half so gratifying to my inmost soul."
John Quincy Adams
by Philip Haas (1843)
Metropolitan Museum of Art