John Quincy Adams
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Quincy, Massachusetts
Summer 2003 2nd Visited

After his death in February 1848,
former President John Quincy
Adams was entombed at Hancock
Cemetery in his native Quincy.
In December 1852, he was re-
interred with his parents, John
and Abigail Adams, across the
street in the First Parish Church

My first three president grave visits, which
occurred in 2003, were not photographed.
After I took up my quest to visit each
burial site, I returned to the graves of
John F. Kennedy and the Adamses for
documentation. This picture with JQA's
sarcophagus was taken on May 9, 2004.

In his lifetime, Adams' titles included
congressman, U.S. senator, secretary of
state, and president. He also helped
negotiate the Treaty of Ghent that ended
the War of 1812 and was minister to the
Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Russia,
and Great Britain. This tablet is affixed to
the exterior wall of his family's crypt. The
Daughters of the American Revolution also
sponsored tablets for his parents and his
wife, First Lady Louisa Catherine Adams.

Every year, on behalf of the sitting chief
executive, a wreath is laid at each dead

president's grave on their respective
birthday. In 2019, as an intern for the
church's History and Visitors Program, I
participated in the celebration for John
Quincy Adams' 252nd birthday. I read
aloud from his 1845 essay "Society and
Civilization." President Harry Truman
spoke from the same podium I am pictured
at when he visited Quincy on October 28,
1948. Watch the ceremony here.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams
- Spouse: Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams (m. 1797-1848)

- Political Party: Democratic-Republican Party

- Term: 1825-1829
- Vice President: John Caldwell Calhoun

- Born: July 11, 1767

- Died: February 23, 1848

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Stroke

- Last Words: "This is the last of Earth. I am content."

Cemetery: United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts
- GPS Coordinates: 42°15'04.1"N 71°00'10.5"W

* * * Background on John Quincy Adams * * *

* The presidential election of 1824 pitted Secretary of State John Quincy Adams against Treasury Secretary William Crawford, House Speaker Henry Clay, and General Andrew Jackson. For the first time, some states changed how their electoral votes were dispersed; while six states stuck with the traditional method of leaving determination up to its legislatures, eighteen opted to award the electoral votes to whoever won the popular vote. This boded well for Jackson, who was considered a hero for his leadership at the Battle of New Orleans and campaigned on the premise he represented the "common man." Indeed, "Old Hickory" received 41.4% of the popular vote, well ahead of the second place Adams' 30.9%. Jackson also received a plurality of electoral votes, but not enough to secure a win. The decision headed to the House of Representatives, over which Henry Clay presided. Clay, who was eliminated from contention, concluded that his own expansive legislative agenda would be difficult to implement under Jackson, who supported limited government. The speaker threw his support to Adams, who won on the first ballot. Adams was the fourth consecutive president to have served as secretary of state, which did not escape notice when he named Clay his successor at the State Department. Clay maintained Adams had not offered up this presidential stepping stone post as a bribe, but Jackson and his supporters decried the episode as a "corrupt bargain."

* Adams entered the presidency with elaborate policy plans that included a public works system and a national university. He accomplished little of this agenda. His alleged "corrupt bargain" and his belief in a strong Federal Government were attacked on all fronts. In Congress, Adams was thwarted by a robust opposition contingent that only grew more powerful after the midterm elections of 1826. His administration was frequently assailed by the Jacksonian press, and he also refused to remove government officials who opposed him, like Postmaster General John McLean. Upset by the hit his reputation took after the rumored deal with Henry Clay, Adams refused to play the patronage game and surround himself with advisors whose ideology aligned with his own. In 1828, after a stagnant four years in the Executive Mansion, Adams again faced off against Andrew Jackson in the presidential race. That time, Jackson won enough electoral votes to defeat his old foe.

* Rather than retire from public life, Adams ran for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1830. He was victorious, and served in the legislature until his death in 1848. In Congress, Adams was a leader in the antislavery movement. In 1836, the House approved the “gag rule,” which prohibited the discussion of anti-slavery petitions on the House floor. Impassioned abolitionist Adams argued that the ban violated the Constitution. It took until 1844, but the man nicknamed "Old Man Eloquent" was able whip enough votes to repeal the rule. In 1840, Adams was approached to defend captive Mendeland Africans who fought to regain their freedom aboard the schooner Amistad. Although Adams had not argued a case in nearly three decades, he represented the Amistad rebels before the Supreme Court. In a 7-1 decision written by Associate Justice Joseph Story, the justices upheld the lower court’s ruling that the Mende people's capture violated laws pertaining to the international slave trade - the Amistad Africans were born free, and thus they could not legally be enslaved. With the financial assistance of an abolitionist group called the Amistad Committee, the Mende returned to West Africa. In gratitude, they gifted Adams a bible, which is in the possession of the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

"The Amistad Case." National Archives. Last updated April 27, 2018.

Edwards, William Churchill. "The Tombs of the Presidents." Quincy, MA: Adams Temple and School Fund, 1957. Reprinted. Quincy, MA: United First Parish Church, 1994.

Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. Henry Clay: The Essential American. New York: Random House, 2010.

"John Quincy Adams and the Amistad Event." National Park Service. Accessed March 28, 2019.

John, Richard R. "John Quincy Adams." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 82-91. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

"The Last Hours of John Quincy Adams.", February 26, 2019.

The Presidents. "John Q. Adams to Polk (1825-1849)." History Channel, 2005.

"Sengbe Pieh (Joseph Cinque)." National Park Service. Accessed March 29, 2019.

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