By Editorial Staff
Published April 4, 2008
John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, now Quincy, Massachusetts, the son of John Adams, the second President of the United States. On March 4th 1825, he was inaugurated as President and served one term. His inaugural address closed with these words:
“Knowing that ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain,’ with fervent supplications for His favor, to His overruling providence I commit, with humble, but fearless confidence, my own fate, and the future destinies of my country.”
Known as a great orator, he was a popular speaker in many places. He owed his influence, not to his manner, presence or pleasing tones, but to the fact that what he said was worth hearing. When it was feared that Christian influence was waning in New England, he prepared a lecture on Truth, which he delivered in many places. The premise was: “A man to be a Christian must believe in God, in the Bible, in the Divinity of the Savior’s mission, and in a future state of rewards and punishments.”
Adams wrote a series of letters to his son on “The Bible and its Teachings” which were published in the New York Tribune, in which he stated: “I have myself for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year. I have always endeavored to read it with the same spirit and temper of mind which I now recommend to you; that is, with the intention and desire that it contribute to my advancement in wisdom and virtue … My custom is, to read four or five chapters every morning, immediately after rising form my bed. It employs about an hour of my time, and seems to me the most suitable manner of beginning the day.”
John Quincy Adams was the only President to have ever been elected to serve as a congressman after his term as President was completed. In being nominated for this position he said: “Not in my opinion would an ex-President of the United States be degraded by serving as a selectman of his town, if elevated thereto by the people.”
During his time of service as a Representative from Massachusetts he presented petitions for the abolition of slavery to Congress. On another occasion, he presented a petition against the annexation of Texas as a slave state, which was signed by several women. When these women were rebuked by Representative Howard from Maryland for turning from their domestic duties, Adams countered:
“Are women to have no opinions or actions on subjects relating to the general welfare? Where did the gentleman get this principle? Did he find it in the sacred history (the Bible) – in the language of Miriam the prophetess, in one of the noblest and most sublime songs of triumph that ever met the human eye or ear? Did the gentleman never hear of Deborah, to whom the children of Israel came up for judgment? Has he forgotten the deed of Jael, who slew the dreaded enemy of her country? Has he forgotten Esther, who by her petition saved her people and her country?”
John Quincy Adams died in the Speaker’s room in Washington on February 23, 1848, while serving his last term as Representative. His last words were: “This is the last of earth. I am content.”
Adapted from American Christian Rulers, Rev. Edward J. Gidding (New York: Bromfield & Company, 1890) pp. 6-13.
See also: The Boston Awakening
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