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John Quincy Adams – Faith and Politics

March 12, 2015 in History

March 12, 2015 9:20 a.m.

Early on the morning of June 13, 1825, as was his daily custom, 57-year-old President John Quincy Adams went swimming in the Potomac. Instead of swimming near the bank as he usually did, Adams and his servant Antoine Guista decided to row a small boat across the wide river and swim back. When they were halfway across the river, a fierce wind suddenly arose, and their boat filled with water, forcing them to jump overboard. Antoine, who was naked, easily swam to the other side. Adams, however, still wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pantaloons, gasped for breath and struggled to stay afloat as the shirt sleeves filled with water and hung like heavy weights on his arms. After many moments of terror, the exhausted president finally reached the shore. Guista returned to Washington and had trouble finding a vehicle to transport Adams to the White House. Almost five hours elapsed before the president made it back to his residence, leading some newspapers to spread a rumor that Adams had drowned. That night a fatigued, but grateful, president wrote in his diary: “By the mercy of God our lives were spared, and no injury befell our persons.”

The story of John Quincy Adams’s life is in many ways the story of America during the eventful years from the Revolution to the Mexican War. Born in 1767, Adams witnessed the course and triumphant conclusion of Americans’ struggle for independence. The eldest son of America’s “preeminent revolutionary couple,” John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy viewed the battle of Bunker Hill, followed the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and participated as a senator in the controversy over the Louisiana Purchase. As secretary of state, president, and a congressman, he wrestled with the moral and practical dilemmas involved in the nation’s treatment of its two principal minorities – Indians and blacks. The only major statesman birthed by the American founders, he was the American ambassador to Holland, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain and helped negotiate the Jay Treaty of 1795 (which led Britain to withdraw all its troops from American soil), the Treaty of Ghent (which ended the War of 1812), and the Transcontinental Treaty of 1819 (which gave Florida to the United States). In addition, he fought legal battles before the Supreme Court and championed human rights, serving his nation for more than sixty years …read more


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