Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Remembering President John Quincy Adams after 162 years

On this day in 1848, in my own opinion the nation lost a great individual who was born during the American Revolution and to live to become the nation's 6th president. I am talking about John Quincy Adams. The first son of another United States President to achieve his own right to become the president also.

John Quincy Adams, Sir you are truly an example of American History, you were the first son of another US President to become the 6th president from 1825-1829, considered to be one of the great secretarty of States, the principal author of the Monroe Doctrine, the first Minister to Russia, also the only US President to serve after his term to be a member of the House of Representatives, what a resume, I believe you were a brillant man and thinker, beyond your time, thanks for serving the presidency, you were a near great president in my book, remembering you after 162 years, may you rest in peace!

John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, was the sixth President of the United States from March 4, 1825, to March 4, 1829. He was also an American diplomat and served in both the Senate and House of Representatives. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of President John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams
As a diplomat, Adams was involved in many international negotiations, and helped formulate the Monroe Doctrine as Secretary of State. Historians agree he was one of the great diplomats in American history.

John Quincy Adams on the Civil War:

In the aftermath of the Missouri Compromise, four full decades before South Carolina seceded from the Union and initiated the great conflagration of the American Civil War, John Quincy Adams penned these prescient words in his diary on November 29, 1820:“If slavery be the destined sword of the hand of the destroying angel which is to sever the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut in sunder the bonds of slavery itself. A dissolution of the Union for the cause of slavery would be followed by a servile war in the slave-holding States, combined with a war between the two severed portions of the Union. It seems to me that its result might be the extirpation of slavery from this whole continent; and, calamitous and desolating as this course of events in its progress must be, so glorious would be its final issue, that, as God shall judge me, I dare not say that it is not to be desired.”What remarkable perspicacity – and how very far we have come.

I believe one of the best portrayal of this near-great president, JQA, was when Steven Spielberg asked legendary actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins to do the role. This was the second film for which Anthony Hopkins received an Academy Award nomination for playing a United States President, having previously been nominated in 1995 for playing Richard Nixon in Nixon. I believe did a wonderful and spectular role as Mr.Adams. At the end of the movie, I believe he did the best in the scene called:John Quincy Adams Addresses the Supreme Court

Adams: Your Honors, I derive much consolation from the fact that my colleague, Mr. Baldwin, here, has argued the case in so able and so complete a manner as to leave me scarcely anything to say.
However, why are we here? How is it that a simple, plain property issue should now find itself so ennobled as to be argued before the Supreme Court of the United States of America? I mean, do we fear the lower courts, which found for us easily, somehow missed the truth? Is that it? Or is it, rather, our great and consuming fear of civil war that has allowed us to heap symbolism upon a simple case that never asked for it and now would have us disregard truth, even as it stands before us, tall and proud as a mountain? The truth, in truth, has been driven from this case like a slave, flogged from court to court, wretched and destitute. And not by any great legal acumen on the part of the opposition, I might add, but through the long, powerful arm of the Executive Office.
Yea, this is no mere property case, gentlemen. I put it to you thus: This is the most important case ever to come before this court. Because what it, in fact, concerns is the very nature of man.
These are transcriptions of letters written between our Secretary of State, John Forsyth, and the Queen of Spain, Isabella the Second. Now, I ask that you accept their perusal as part of your deliberations.
Thank you, sir. [to court officer]
I would not touch on them now except to notice a curious phrase which is much repeated. The queen again and again refers to our incompetent courts. Now what, I wonder, would be more to her liking? Huh? A court that finds against the Africans? Well, I think not. And here is the fine point of it: What her majesty wants is a court that behaves just like her courts, the courts this eleven year-old child plays with in her magical kingdom called Spain, a court that will do what it is told, a court that can be toyed with like a doll, a court -- as it happens -- of which our own President, Martin Van Buren, would be most proud.
Thank you. [takes document from Baldwin]
This is a publication of the Office of the President. It's called the Executive Review, and I'm sure you all read it. At least I'm sure the President hopes you all read it. This is a recent issue, and there's an article in here written by a "keen mind of the South," who is my former Vice President, John Calhoun, perhaps -- Could it be? -- who asserts that:
"There has never existed a civilized society in which one segment did not thrive upon the labor of another. As far back as one chooses to look -- to ancient times, to biblical times -- history bears this out. In Eden, where only two were created, even there one was pronounced subordinate to the other. Slavery has always been with us and is neither sinful nor immoral. Rather, as war and antagonism are the natural states of man, so, too, slavery, as natural as it is inevitable."
Now, gentlemen, I must say I differ with the keen minds of the South, and with our president, who apparently shares their views, offering that the natural state of mankind is instead -- and I know this is a controversial idea -- is freedom. Is freedom. And the proof is the length to which a man, woman, or child will go to regain it, once taken. He will break loose his chains, He will decimate his enemies. He will try and try and try against all odds, against all prejudices, to get home.
Cinque, would you stand up, if you would, so everyone can see you. This man is black. We can all see that. But can we also see as easily that which is equally true -- that he is the only true hero in this room.
Now, if he were white, he wouldn't be standing before this court fighting for his life. If he were white and his enslavers were British, he wouldn't be able to stand, so heavy the weight of the medals and honors we would bestow upon him. Songs would be written about him. The great authors of our times would fill books about him. His story would be told and retold in our classrooms. Our children, because we would make sure of it, would know his name as well as they know Patrick Henry's.
Yet, if the South is right, what are we to do with that embarrassing, annoying document, "The Declaration of Independence?" What of its conceits? "All men...created equal," "inalienable rights," "life," "liberty," and so on and so forth? What on earth are we to do with this?
I have a modest suggestion. [tears up a facsimile of the Declaration]
The other night I was talking with my friend, Cinque. He was over at my place, and we were out in the greenhouse together. And he was explaining to me how when a member of the Mende -- that's his people -- how when a member of the Mende encounters a situation where there appears no hope at all, he invokes his ancestors. It's a tradition. See, the Mende believe that if one can summon the spirits of one's ancestors, then they have never left, and the wisdom and strength they fathered and inspired will come to his aid.
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams: We've long resisted asking you for guidance. Perhaps we have feared in doing so we might acknowledge that our individuality which we so, so revere is not entirely our own. Perhaps we've feared an appeal to you might be taken for weakness. But, we've come to understand, finally, that this is not so. We understand now, we've been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding that who we are is who we were.

We desperately need your strength and wisdom to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, our-selves. Give us the courage to do what is right. And if it means civil war, then let it come. And when it does, may it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution.
That's all I have to say.

Death and burial:

On February 21, 1848, the House of Representatives was discussing the matter of honoring US Army officers who served in the Mexican-American War. Adams firmly opposed this idea, so when the rest of the house erupted into 'ayes', he cried out, 'No!' Immediately thereafter, Adams collapsed, having suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage.

Two days later, on February 23, he died with his wife and son at his side in the Speaker's Room inside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. His last words were reported to have been, "This is the last of Earth. I am content." But this quote is debately to all presidential historians for years to debate on!
His original interment was temporary, in the public vault at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.. Later, he was interred in the family burial ground in Quincy at the First Unitarian Church, called Hancock Cemetery. After his wife's death, his son, Charles Francis Adams, had him reinterred with his wife in a family crypt in the United First Parish Church across the street. His parents are also buried there, and both tombs are viewable. Adams' original tomb at Hancock Cemetery is still there, marked simply "J.Q. Adams

This 1848 print illustrated the death of Representative John Quincy Adams, who was surrounded by friends and foes alike.

The death of Representative John Quincy Adams of MassachusettsFebruary 21, 1848 On this date, Representative and former President John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts suffered a fatal stroke on the House Floor.
During a debate on whether to refer a resolution to the Committee on Military Affairs, Representative Adams voted in the negative. A short time later he collapsed at his desk. Representative Washington Hunt of New York interrupted the debate to bring attention to the ailing Adams. Members moved the 80 year-old former President to the Rotunda for fresher air and then relocated him to the Speaker's Lobby (the present day Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room). Adams mustered the strength to thank the Officers of the House for their service. He then lapsed into a coma and died two days later. A funeral to celebrate the life of the great sage took place on February 26, 1848, in the House Chamber. Attended by political friends and foes, everyone sung the praises of Adams. Until arrangements could be made to move his remains to the family burial grounds in Quincy, Massachusetts, his body was laid to rest in Congressional Cemetery. A cenotaph marker remains in the cemetery to honor the former President.

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