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Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: The Extraordinary Post-presidential Life of John Quincy Adams

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  847 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Following his single term as President of the United States (1825–1829), John Quincy Adams, embittered by his loss to Andrew Jackson, boycotted his successor's inauguration, just as his father John Adams had done (the only two presidents ever to do so). Rather than retire, the sixty-two-year-old former president, U.S. senator, secretary of state, and Harvard professor was ...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published January 29th 2008 by PublicAffairs (first published January 8th 2008)
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Jul 01, 2009 Mahlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes Biography or the Presidents
Recommended to Mahlon by: C-Span
Shelves: read-2009
For 35 years, John Quincy Adams served his country selflessly in several capacities including, Diplomat, Senator, Secertary of State, and 6th President of the U.S. The consensus among historians seems to be that Adams' one-term in office was a failure, largely due to his perceived "corrupt bargain" with Henry Clay. He left office isolated and unpopular. He could have easily retired to Massachusetts and lived out his life as a gentleman farmer. Thankfully for us, he decided to heed the call of hi ...more
May 07, 2012 Bruce rated it liked it
Recommends it for: HBO's "John Adams," Spielberg's "Amistad," or McCullough readers
So I read John Adams and then watched the marvelous HBO mini-series based on it (twice, the second time with the kids of course), and in each case came away with a bit of curiosity about Adams' oldest son. That would be John Quincy Adams, America's sixth president and second one-termer – just like his dad! Mr. Adams' Last Crusade is sort of a Cliff's Notes bio of JQA; it blitzes through his rise to and through the presidency in the first 80 pages (well-trod material, that), and then settles into ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Martin rated it it was amazing
(Preliminary review:)

A quick, excellent read about JQA's congressional years, a perfect companion piece to Harlow Giles Unger's biography of John Quincy Adams.
Jeremy Perron
Dec 02, 2013 Jeremy Perron rated it really liked it
As explained by the title, Joseph Wheelan's book covers the second President Adams' career as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Most presidents who have served in the House of Representatives did so at an earlier stage in their careers. (Examples: James Madison, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush.) Their House membership was a stepping-stone on the way to bigger and better things. John Quincy Adams however became a member of House after he was President of the United States. Whil ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing

I have become a huge John Quincy fan, and the more I learn about him the more impressed I become. When I found Mr Adam's Last Crusade: John Quincy Adam's Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life in Congress I had to read it. And I did, in three sittings. Wheelan has written an inspiring book, offering a concise overview of JQ's early career and a moving study of his time in the House.

After a failed presidency he expected a peaceful retirement at Big House, the home of his parents, reunited with his
Sep 22, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it

“Mr. Adams’s Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams’s Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life in Congress” is author Joseph Wheelan’s 2008 biography of our sixth president. Wheelan, an Associated Press reporter for over two decades, is the author of six books including two on Thomas Jefferson.

Unlike most John Quincy Adams biographies, Wheelan focuses not on Adams’s unsuccessful term as president but, instead, on his unique and remarkably successful post-presidential
John Quincy Adams “had demonstrated a rare willingness for someone of his years to challenge his own assumptions and fixed opinions about slavery and then to make a last, great ideological leap to an abolition position. It had been a long journey spanning decades—one that began in obliviousness and then progressed to a dawning awareness of the implications of the 1820 Missouri Compromise; thence to a moral revulsion tempered by fears that pushing too hard for abolition might shatter the Union; a ...more
Jun 15, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent account of John Quincy Adams' "second career" as a member of the U.S. Congress. He served in the House for 17 years, from 1831 to 1848.

Adams is often regarded as a "failed president," largely because of his refusal to "play" politics, to wield his powers of patronage within the Federal Government. As a result, he, like his father, served only a single term as President, losing to Andrew Jackson in a bitter election in 1828. Yet less than two years later, Adams was elected b
Mar 27, 2014 Dale rated it it was amazing
bI have found a new hero from history

I've known about John Quincy Adams's post-Presidential career ever since I read Profiles In Courage by JFK many, many years ago. However, what I most remember about that description of him was that that he argued against slavery in the Congress when he could have just coasted along in a comfortable poltical semi-retirement.

Joseph Wheelan does us all a favor by elaborating on John Quincy Adams's amazing career in this well-written, informative book. Wheelan
Sep 01, 2012 Nathan rated it it was ok
If John Quincy Adam's Presidency was marked by the less-than-engrossing minutiae of internal improvements and infrastructure development, his post-presidential career makes up for it. The first 3 quarters of Wheelan's book are unfortunately entangled in the rather mundane and confusing details of a man navigating a new and complicated life in politicking. It's difficult and tedious work keeping up with this section of the narrative; there is little clarity or humanity given to the characters inv ...more
Iowa City Public Library
John Quincy Adams was destined to be president. The son of a founding father /president, an experience diplomat, a successful Secretary of State, and a man full of ambitious ideas for America, Adams was extremely qualified for the job. Unfortunately, his presidency is viewed as an utter failure, the victim of partisan politics (as well as the fact that he didn’t win either the popular or electoral vote…but no one did in the 1824 election).

However, he was able to make it all up during his post-p
Pete Iseppi
Apr 04, 2014 Pete Iseppi rated it really liked it
John Quincy Adams was an amazing man. Considered by most to be a failure as our sixth President(and son of our second President) he refused to withdraw from the service of his country, and served as a congress man for 17 years after his presidency. He is the only ex-president to serve in Congress. And serve he did. An ardent abolitionist, Adams was a thorn (a very sharp thorn) in the side of the southern states, constantly badgering about the "peculiar institution", slavery.
For over eight years
Jun 27, 2010 Matthew rated it really liked it
I had been told long ago in a college history class John Quincy Adams was a rarity because after being a president he went on to serve as a representative for the state of Massachusetts. What became clear from reading this book was J.Q. Adams worked off of his principled beliefs instead of pandering to political interests. He did more to fight slavery than many who seem to be held higher. He even defended women's efforts to participate in the political process. What is great about the book is it ...more
Aug 09, 2014 Omar rated it really liked it
This was an excellent biography of the post-presidency life of JQA. I recently finished Paul Nagle's John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life. Wheelan's book is an excellent second volume to read on the life of JQA. I say second only because Wheelan speeds by Adams' life in three chapters to get to his post-presidential career. (Those three chapters were an excellent summary!)

I appreciated his approach to JQA, especially his development of Adams' Christian faith and Abolitionist convict
Aug 09, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it
An excellent short book focusing on the 6th Presidents 8 terms in the House of Representatives following his defeat by Andrew Jackson. The book only briefly describes Adam’s diplomatic career, his tenure as Secretary of State for James Monroe and his one term as President. It focuses on his tenure in the House and his fight against Southern Senators over the right of Petition, Southern Rep’s wanted to gag the House from bringing up petitions to abolish slavery. It also highlights his fight again ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Nick rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Focuses mostly on his years after his presidency, while he was in Congress. Like his father, he was a man of principals and did great things for this country, but was a poor President. Neither men were very political therefor had few allies in congress. JQ held the Constitution as sacred, and constantlied argued against any ruling or act that would go against it or the rights of any citizen, wether he agreed with it or not.

Interesting fact: he abhorred slavery and spent most of
Aug 22, 2008 Brad rated it really liked it
Most histories of JQA focus on his outstanding early service to the country, including his time as our most qualified Secretary of State, then finish with his lackluster presidency. His extensive post-presidential career in Congress-one that spanned 17 years after his tenure in the White House-is generally glossed over. This book attempts to remedy that. He was a brilliant man, passionate and articulate. Like his father, he was an ardent patriot who eschewed parties and devoted his life to democ ...more
John Bloomberg
Nov 27, 2014 John Bloomberg rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 26, 2011 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Shelves: us-history, politics
John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the US, was mediocre as president. Being old school he did not enter the partisan fray when running for re-election and consequently lost to Andrew Jackson. He entered into retirement for a brief year and a half before he was elected, again not really running for office, to Congress where he served his country once more, literally until his death, at his desk on the floor of Congress. It was during this time he really came into his own. His defense of the fi ...more
John Dalton
Jan 03, 2013 John Dalton rated it it was amazing
We live at a time with numerous living ex-presidents who all seek to make a lasting mark on the world and embellish their legacies. What sets JQ Adams apart from the current crop and all other presidents is that he returned to public service after his presidency by serving in Congress and leading what began as an unpopular crusade against slavery. The exploration of this crusade, the individuals involved and the ultimate outcome of it, reveals a divided period of our history when public service ...more
Steve Bomgaars
Nov 28, 2013 Steve Bomgaars rated it really liked it
As someone who has been interested in history since I started reading, I knew very little about John Quincy Adams life after he left the presidency. however, this book shows how influential Adams was after his presidency. His strong ties to theFounders gave him extraordinary influence among his peers especially in the area of abolition. Adams presidency may have been marred but his work in the early civil rights movement of this country Ivan not be overlooked. Wheelan does an excellent job of wr ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
simply wonderful; inspiring ... so many of our early leaders are among our very best, maybe because there was such a full plate of things to be accomplished ... but while generally hazed as a president, JQA defined service, righteousness and patriotism - for all to be judged by - in the congressional run that followed his presidency ... his principles and bipartisanship serve as examples for the ages and as the very last of the revolutionary founders, in many ways, the best was saved for last .. ...more
Colette Guerin
Jan 21, 2011 Colette Guerin rated it really liked it
John Quincy Adam's was an extraordinary man. I think many don't give him his due as a diplomat, president and later congressman. He devoted his life to our country. Not only did he contribute to the founding (at an incredibly young age) he helped to secure the United States standing in the world when we were a foundling country. His contributions to ending slavery are sadly overlooked.

Both he and his father are examples of integrity that modern day politicians should model themselves after.
Sarah Jo
Mar 26, 2014 Sarah Jo rated it it was amazing
Lincoln gets all the credit but Mr. Adams was the one who created the political system capable of electing Lincoln. He did it, tooth and nail scratching through an astounding post-presidential career in congress. This book narrates the struggle - brilliant and unfailing - to preserve the principles of the Constitution and the unity of the Union through the channels of government as they were in the youth of our nation. Excellent book; both informative and inspiring.
Nov 07, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it
"Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams's Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life In Congress" is a fine account of an outstanding individual. There is nothing new here, but Mr. Wheelan does a nice job detailing what has before been edited out of most Adams biographies. Definitely worth anyone's time who has an interest in the tumultuous period in American History that has come to be known ( very much to Mr. Adams's dislike I'm sure) as "The Age of Jackson".
Apr 06, 2008 William rated it it was amazing
Maybe its me but I believe that both John Adams and his son, John Quincy are under appreciated in american history. This particular book is an example of what I am talking about. JQA labored for about 16 years in the House of Representatives where he fought against slavery and was a thorn in Andrew Jackson's side for 8 years. This is a quick read and afterward you are left with a good amount of respect for Adams.
Robert Melnyk
Sep 13, 2013 Robert Melnyk rated it really liked it
Very good book about an incredible man. The lifetime accomplishments of John Quincy Adams were absolutely amazing. This book dealt mostly with his public life after leaving the presidency. He served 17 years in Congress, and was in the forefront of the fight to abolish slavery. Very interesting read.
Mar 31, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
Focuses on the generally overlooked part of JQA's career, his post Presidential time in Congress, where he waged a one man crusade to lift the gag rule against debaing slavery. Pretty well written, no overwhelming revelations or new info, but just by spotlighting this time it is well worth a read. The kind of book you can see being made into a movie.
Feb 01, 2015 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so enjoyed this book about John Quincy's post-Presidential career. Called to serve in Congress, John became a thorn pushing for the end of slavery. This book follows his deepening commitment to human rights that culminated in representing the Amistad Africians to the Supreme Court, winning their freedom by proving they were free men who did what any man would do to return home.
Louie Verile JR.
Mar 07, 2010 Louie Verile JR. rated it it was amazing
Despite his faults, JQA was a very passionate and well thought out politician and man who followed his heart more than his gut (it seems). I always wanted a book that looked at his years in the house of reps and this one does not disappoint. It's often funny, sarcastic and witty and I can only wish that after reading this book that I could have had the honor of meeting him in person. Well done!!!
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“and Bill Clinton broke with this archetype to devote their post-presidencies to humanitarian and other public causes. Previously, William Howard Taft, president” 0 likes
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