“The acutest, the astutest, the archest enemy of southern slavery that ever existed”

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John Quincy Adams. Shall we bow our heads for an early nap before discussing a white dead president? It’s kind of superficial to judge a person because they’re white and dead, don’t you think? John Quincy was pretty cute (okay that’s superficial) as a young guy, but he was much more than that.

You know how we always love to trash kids who have famous parents? We say they got where they got because their father knew, say, George Washington, but a meeting with a president doesn’t always assure you a brilliant career. John Quincy started his brilliant career at the age of 14. Yes, fourteen. He accompanied Francis Dana as a secretary on a mission to Saint Petersburg. (WIKI)

Do you know any fourteen-year-olds? How many impress foreign diplomats and presidents? Well, maybe Justin Beiber did in his prime, but if you check out John Quincy’s love poems to his wife you might be surprised at Mr. Adam’s sensuous side. So young Adams did have the advantage of being born into a brainy family (funny they lived in Braintree, Massachusetts), but John Quincy’s younger brother with all the same advantages died young of alcoholism.

How many kids today know Greek, Latin, French, German and Dutch? How many consider it a fine hobby to translate Virgil, Horace, Plutarch and Aristotle? Anybody for one more opinion about deflated footballs?

Lest we think young Johnnie had it easy, let me mention his parents. John and Abigail groomed him for moral and intellectual greatness. This was no soft curry-comb grooming. Lovingly and beseechingly–daily, weekly, monthly and yearly–John and Abigail  bombarded John Q with “advice.” When excelling at language, Abigail bemoaned his sloppy handwriting. When dancing with the girls in Europe, John Adams Sr. worried he might bring home a horrible Euro-trash girl.

Johnnie could have bolted under the pressure. He could have whined. Instead he wrote volumes in his journals, he translated volumes, he married well and became a great husband and father. These things were done in his spare time!

Here are some of his other accomplishments:

Graduated Harvard and became a lawyer (he thought this terribly dull). Later taught at Harvard.

Became a respected foreign minister to the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany,  Prussia and later Russia.

Became Secretary of State

Was elected President

And then for 18 years decided to hang out in Congress refusing all the while to descend into party politics. This guy had tons of courage. At one time or another everyone hated him. He stood for what was morally right and best for the country he loved. This meant that he vehemently opposed slavery before it was cool. He was a hard-working trail-blazer!

“The discussion of this Missouri question has betrayed the secret of their souls. In the abstract they admit that slavery is an evil, they disclaim it, and cast it all upon the shoulder of…Great Britain. But when probed to the quick upon it, they show at the bottom of their souls pride and vainglory in their condition of masterdom. They look down upon the simplicity of a Yankee’s manners, because he has no habits of overbearing like theirs and cannot treat negroes like dogs. It is among the evils of slavery that it taints the very sources of moral principle. It establishes false estimates of virtue and vice: for what can be more false and heartless than this doctrine which makes the first and holiest rights of humanity to depend upon the color of the skin?” (Journal entry Wiki)

John Quincy Adams also sat for one of the first presidential photographs:

So he didn't age that well--but there's more to a man than his looks.
So he didn’t age that well–but there’s more to a man than his looks.

Short, good C-SPAN Video

A taste of John Quincy’s life under his mother’s watchful eye

20 thoughts on ““The acutest, the astutest, the archest enemy of southern slavery that ever existed”

  1. New Jersey had more slaves than most Southern States and fewer protections and rights than Florida, so depicting slavery as a Southern crime is incorrect. Abolitionists were right in sentiment, but failed to see the barriers to solution. Race issues continued to exist because they failed to see those barriers. Georgia was founded as an abolitionist state and slavery thrived much longer in some of those Northern states.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We just had our national day and it is interesting that most Australians know more about early US presidents than we do about our own Prime ministers. Alfred Deakin was our second, and he was a dedicated spiritualist……… I didn’t know that until last Sunday.

    Like

  3. His dad also had the amazing distinction of being the lead in 1776 – one of my favorite movie musicals. Ok, that was pretty shallow of me, but I really enjoy hearing William Daniels bemoaning Philadelphia!

    Feel free to tell me to: SIT DOWN!

    🙂

    Like

    • I’m a big fan of The Music Man, Meet Me in St. Louis and Oklahoma (in fact I sing oh, what a beautiful morning to my goats all the time).

      William Daniels plays a good Adams. I should make my kids watch that–they almost hung me for making them endure Meet Me in St. Louis!

      Liked by 1 person

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