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

After his remains were returned
from Washington, D.C., John
Quincy Adams was entombed
at Hancock Cemetery in his
native Quincy. He was later
re-interred with his parents,
John and Abigail Adams, across
the street in the United First
Parish Church crypt.

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, John Quincy 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 ambassador
to the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, and

Every year, on the behalf of the current
commander-in-chief, a wreath is laid at

each deceased president's grave on their
respective birthdays. In 2011, I attended
the wreath-laying ceremony on the 244th
anniversary of John Quincy Adams' birth.

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 were illegally captured and forced into servitude. 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                                                                                                                                                     

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)." Episode 2. History Channel, 2005.

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

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