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"I am a man of reserved, cold, austere and forbidding manners. My political adversaries say a gloomy misanthrope, my personal enemies, an unsocial savage."
—Adams' opinion on himself, long before he became president.
The sixth U.S. President, and the first son of a former president to be elected president (only George W. Bush has done so since then). Allegedly enjoyed skinny-dipping in the Potomac in the early morning during his presidency and pimped for the Russian Czar (at least that's what the Jacksonians believe). He was also ugly as sin and is considered the scariest-looking president ever, a fact we know for sure as he was the first President with a surviving photograph (and likely the first photographed period).
Elected by the House of Representatives when no candidate was able to gain a majority of the electoral or popular votes (there were four candidates and no clear favorite, although Andrew Jackson received the plurality of both). He ultimately won when fourth-placed candidate Henry Clay threw his support behind Adams, in return for the promise that Clay would become his Secretary of State. This gave Adams' administration a reputation for being corrupt from day one, and while this was perhaps somewhat unfair, he achieved very little during his time in office. Things weren't helped by the fact that, in an ironic echo of the situation his father faced, his vice-president, John Calhoun was a political enemy who in fact had been on Jackson's side during the election. To the surprise of absolutely no-one, Adams was utterly crushed when Jackson went up against him again in the following election.
Much more successful and popular as a member of the House of Representatives, earning the nickname "Old Man Eloquent" for his speeches against slavery and finally dying of a heart attack on the House floor. Adams was elected a U.S. Representative after leaving the presidency, the only president ever to do so, serving for the last 17 years of his life. Most presidents would consider it too much of a Badass Decay.
Regardless, he was a great lawyer and a shrewd negotiator, his most famous case being when he successfully argued at the US Supreme Court that the Amistad Africans were illegally enslaved and had every right to fight for their freedom.
As Cracked.com's The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All-Time points out: "He kept a pet alligator in the East Wing of the White House. That actually probably came in handy for some of that shrewd negotiating we mentioned earlier."
- Happily Adopted: While he had an actual father, Thomas Jefferson invoked the trope as he and JQ Adams' own dad were approaching death, saying that he and John Adams (with the latter's blessing) considered JQ Adams their own son together, as he represented their hopes and dreams for the United States.
- Never Live It Down: Supporters of Andrew Jackson never let the fact Henry Clay helped him become president by stepping out of the race in exchange for becoming Secretary of State br forgotten, and while it wasn't true, their accusations they struck a deal beforehand helped Jackson finally get the office after JQ Adams.
- Our Presidents Are Different: President Iron, for sure. His refusal to compromise principle as opposed to pragmatism in part denied him a second term in office.
- Principles Zealot: Due to his intense morality, he stood firm for respecting the land rights of Native Americans, which earned him a lot of enemies from those who wanted more land, and stood up for the Amistad slaves and defended their freedom due to the illegality of their enslavement. The second is particularly notable given this was during a time not many would have especially cared about their fate.
- Redemption Promotion: Was considered MORE effective as a congressman than as President, oddly enough. He's also the only President to go from President to congressman afterwards instead of the other way round.