John Quincy Adams was born the son of John, who later became the second President of the United States, and Abigail Adams on July 11, 1767 in Braintree, Massachusetts. He was educated principally by his parents during his adolescence and later at private schools in Paris while accompanying his father on diplomatic missions in Europe. He also attended the University of Lieden while in Europe. He furthered his formal education at Harvard University on his return to the United States in 1785 graduating in 1787, then studied law under Theophilus Parsons in Newbury, Massachusetts. On completing his studies with Mr. Parsons he began to practice law in Boston in 1790.
Adams had several articles published in the Boston newspapers defending President George Washington's policies. President Washington recognized the value of Adams as an ally and appointed him minister to the Netherlands from 1794 to 1797. In 1797 Adams was appointed as minister to Berlin where he remained until 1801. While on a mission to England Adams married Louisa Catherine Johnson, the daughter of the U.S. consul at London.
After the election of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency in 1801, President John Adams relieved his son from the Berlin ministerial position. John Quincy Adams returned to Boston and resumed his law practice. He sought a more active political role in U.S. affairs and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1803. He also served as a professor at Harvard University from 1806 - 1809. On the election of President Madison, Adams was appointed minister to Russia where he remained from 1809 - 1814. Adams was called to peace negotiations during the war of 1812 and was subsequently assigned to serve as U.S. minister to England. He was recalled to the U.S. by President James Madison to become Secretary of State.
Adams went on to run for the Presidency in 1824 and won the election as a result of the last minute support of an opposing candidate, Henry Clay. He was a minority party president with little political backing and had a rather uneventful presidency. He was soundly defeated in the election campaign of 1828.
In 1830, Adams was elected to Congress as the representative of the 12th District in Massachusetts. He was outspoken about nationalism and abolition of slavery. He attempted to introduce amendments to the Constitution in 1839 which would prevent any person born in the U.S. from being born a slave. He additionally became involved as a proponent for the Amistad Africans in writings of late 1839 forward. He eventually joined the team defending the Africans and helped win their freedom in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.
He remained in Congress until 1848, when he was stricken on the floor of the House of Representatives and died.