He fought for Washington, served with Lincoln, witnessed Bunker Hill, and sounded the clarion against slavery on the eve of the Civil War. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of The Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president.
John Quincy Adams was all of these things and more. In this masterful biography, award winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals Quincy Adams as a towering figure in the nation's formative years and one of the most courageous figures in American history, which is why he ranked first in John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage.
A magisterial biography and a sweeping panorama of American history from the Washington to Lincoln eras, Unger's John Quincy Adams follows one of America's most important yet least-known figures.
The son of American icons John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams transcended his parents' high expectations, serving his country as a 15-year-old diplomat (as secretary to the American minister to Russia), U.S. president, and later, congressman. Unger (The Last Founding Father) asserts that Adams's positions on abolition and the promotion of science showed him to be prescient, while his outwardly reserved ambition revealed him as a Revolutionary relic whose earnest legal mind garnered him the respect of the fiercely partisan congressmen who surrounded him on his Capitol deathbed. Though Unger oversimplifies the initial American support for the revolutionary French during the elder Adams's tenure as president, he eloquently details the diplomatic headaches caused by both the infamous XYZ Affair and ever-changing Gallic governments. Spare prose clarifies the overview of political complications and intricate family dynamics, revealing Adams as a historically overlooked yet key transitional figure who witnessed the birth of the nation and endured its nearly irreparable geographic squabbles of the 1840s. Always serving the public with style and conviction, this "towering figure in the formative years" of the nation earned both his parents' respect and a place in John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. 43 illus., 4 maps.