John Quincy Adams inherited his father’s passion for politics. He accompanied his father on diplomatic missions from the time he was 14 and entered the legal profession after completing his schooling. As a young man, he served as minister to a variety of countries, including Prussia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and England. In 1803, he began his first term as a Republican in the Senate and afterward helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent that ended the War of 1812. In 1817, President James Monroe appointed Quincy Adams secretary of state, a position he held until 1824, when he ran for president. In the subsequent presidential election, a tie between Quincy Adams and Democrat Andrew Jackson put the deciding vote in the House of Representatives. The House chose Adams, who went on to serve one term from 1825 to 1829.
Rather than retire after presiding at the pinnacle of American politics, Adams returned to Congress. He preferred legislative duties to the presidency, which he described as the four most miserable years of his life. Beginning in 1831, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, chairing congressional committees on the economy, Indian affairs and foreign relations. He even found time to argue the controversial Amistad slavery case in the Supreme Court. His eloquent argument for returning the ship’s illegally transported cargo of Africans to Africa cemented his reputation as an abolitionist.
Quincy Adams suffered and survived a stroke in 1846. Two years later, on February 21, 1848, just after participating in a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, Quincy Adams succumbed to a more massive and ultimately fatal stroke. He died two days later in a room in the Capitol building in which he had performed many years of public service.