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America’s Greatest Diplomat

October 20, 2015

John Quincy Adams was born in 1767. During the American Revolution he accompanied his father, future President John Adams, on a diplomatic mission to Europe. By 1781 he was so mature and so fluent in French, which was also the language of diplomacy in Saint Petersburg, that he was sent to Russia as secretary to the American emissary Francis Dana.

President Washington appointed him Minister to the Netherlands where he served from 1794 to 1797.

President Adams appointed him Minister to Prussia where he served from 1797 to 1801. There in 1799 he negotiated a commercial treaty.

President Madison appointed him Minister to Russia where he served from 1809 to 1814. In 1814 Madison made him chief negotiator for the Treaty of Ghent, which concluded the War of 1812. Madison then appointed him Minister to the Court of Saint James where he served from 1815 to 1817.

In 1817 President Monroe appointed him Secretary of State. He served until 1825. He convinced Monroe against the advice of former Presidents Jefferson and Madison to adopt the policy which became known as the Monroe Doctrine.

President Madison had been Jefferson’s Secretary of State, and Monroe had been Madison’s. It was only natural that Secretary Adams would succeed Monroe as President, and in 1825 that is exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, although John Quincy Adams was America’s greatest diplomat, he was also America’s worst politician.  We will discuss that next time.

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