John Quincy Adams July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was an American statesman who served as a diplomat, minister and ambassador to foreign nations, and treaty negotiator, United States Senator, U.S. Representative (Congressman) from Massachusetts, and the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829. He was the son of second president John Adams(1735–1826, served 1797–1801) and his wife, Abigail Adams. He was a member of the Federalists, like his father, but later switched to the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later the Anti-Masonic and Whig parties when they were organized.
Adams shaped early American foreign policy using his ardently nationalist commitment to U.S. republican values. As a diplomat, Adams played an important role in negotiating key treaties, most notably the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 (1812–1815). As Secretary of State, he negotiated with Great Britain over the United States’ northern border with Canada from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains in 1818, negotiated with Spain the Adams–Onís Treaty, which allowed for the annexation and purchase of Florida from the Spanish, and drafted the “Monroe Doctrine”, under fifth president James Monroe. Historians generally concur that he was one of the greatest diplomats and secretaries of state in American history. In his biography, Samuel Flagg Bemis argues that Adams was able to “gather together, formulate, and practice the fundamentals of American foreign-policy – self-determination, independence, noncolonization, nonintervention, nonentanglement in European politics, Freedom of the Seas, [and] freedom of commerce.”
Adams was elected president in a close and controversial four-way contest in 1824. As president he sought to modernize the American economy and promote education. Adams enacted a part of his agenda and paid off much of the national debt. However, he was stymied time and again by a Congress controlled by opponents, and his lack of patronage networks helped politicians sabotage him. He lost his 1828 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson. He has been portrayed by recent historians as an exemplar and moral leader during an era of modernization, when new modes of communication spread messages of religious revival, social reform, and party politics, and improved transportation moved goods, money, and people more rapidly. Historians have generally ranked him as an above-average president.
After leaving office, he was elected as U.S. Representative from Massachusetts in 1830, serving for the last 17 years of his life with greater acclaim than he had achieved as president. Animated by his growing revulsion against slavery, Adams became a leading opponent of the Slave Power. Adams predicted the Union’s dissolution over slavery, and in such a case, felt the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers. Adams also became a critic of the annexation of Texas and the Mexican–American War, which he saw as an aggressive war for territory.