On This Day: Old Man Eloquent

On July 11, 1767, John Quincy Adams was born. He was to become a senator, our nation’s sixth president, and a member of the House of Representatives. Though his ascension to the office of president was controversial, Adams is remembered for being well-spoken, intelligent, and independent.  

John Quincy Adams

Though there is much that is interesting about the life of John Quincy Adams, one of his most compelling stories is that of his path to the presidency. John Quincy Adams became president despite losing both the popular and electoral vote in the 1824 election. The 1824 election had four candidates: John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, William Crawford, and Henry Clay. When none of the candidates received a majority of the electoral college votes, the fate of the election fell into the hands of the House of Representatives, as outlined in the Twelfth Amendment. Only the three candidates with the largest number of electoral votes could be considered, knocking Clay from the race. Clay, who was not a fan of Jackson, threw his weight behind Adams, ensuring his election to the office of president. When, a few days later, Adams offered Clay the position of Secretary of State, Jackson and his constituents called the affair a “corrupt bargain.”  

It has been suggested that this election is what lead to the strict adherence to a two-party system in the US. No party wanted to risk splitting their electoral college votes and losing an election like this again. It was perhaps also for this reason that the 1828 election between Adams and Jackson is considered one of the meanest campaigns in history. In any case, Adams did not win reelection but shortly after became the first US president to become a member of the House of Representatives after his term as president. He remained there for 17 years, earning himself the nickname “Old Man Eloquent.” In 1848, he suffered a stroke on the House floor and quite literally died serving his country.    

Learn more here:

  1. https://www.senate.gov/senators/FeaturedBios/Featured_Bio_AdamsJohnQ.htm
  2. https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/10-fascinating-facts-about-john-quincy-adams-for-his-248th-birthday
  3. https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/john-quincy-adams/
  4. https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Quincy-Adams/Break-with-the-Federalists