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John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 9. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS~~CHAPTER NINE (212 - 240) (3/5/12 - 3/11/12)~No Spoilers, please

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Bryan Craig This is the Week Nine thread for the next Presidential Series selection (John Quincy Adams).

The week's reading assignment is:

Week Nine - March 5th - March 11th -> NINE p. 212 - 240

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library. Bryan's edition is ISBN: 0679404449 (hardcover)

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to begin reading this selection and/or to post.

Bryan Craig will be your moderator for this selection as he is our lead for all Presidential selections. We hope you enjoy Week Nine of this discussion.



John Quincy Adams A Public Life, a Private Life by Paul C. Nagel by Paul C. Nagel

Bryan Craig Chapter Overview and Summary

Chapter Nine: London

JQA, Gallatin, and Bayard finally met in St. Petersburg in July 1813. However, the British ignored Russian's overture of peace. So, they were stuck in Russia until a breakthrough occurred. JQA was not fond of his colleagues and he found that they interrupted his routine. By March 20, 1814, British officials sent word that they were ready to talk. Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell join them in Sweden waiting to go to Ghent, Belgium. Negotiations finally began in August. With more people in the mix, JQA had a harder time working with his fellow negotiators (and his British counterparts, too). JQA wanted to control things, he got into arguments and even dined alone, until Clay pleaded with him to join the rest. However, he persisted with the negotiations which moved along as the British realized it could not win a prolonged war in America.

Once the Treaty of Ghent was signed, JQA was in Paris with his family for three months. He was waiting to move to London to become the American minister. Once they finally arrived in London, it became one of his happier moments. He spent time with his sons, George, Charles, and John. He got them tutors and seemed more content about himself and his place. He got along with British leaders like Liverpool, Castlereagh, and Canning and entertained well. JQA wrote poetry and read and discussed religion with his father and the British philosopher, Jeremy Bentham. By 1816, his spirits sank due to the weather and the anxiety about the rumors he might be the new secretary of state under President James Monroe.

By April, he got official word and they began the long voyage home. They arrived in New York in August, then worked their way back to Quincy before moving to Washington. JQA got George a tutor so he could get into Harvard, while his other sons enrolled in Boston Latin School. However, his financial records were in disarray, because his brother, Tom, was drinking and it was affecting his work.

Bryan Craig I had to enjoy the letters between JQA and his father on buying books (p. 214). Basically, John tells his son, "yeah, I bought a lot of trash, don't do the same." JQA got pretty defensive.

Rodney | 83 comments I got a smile out of JQA's comment of politicians desire for women leading to their downfall. Once again, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Bryan Craig Rodney wrote: "I got a smile out of JQA's comment of politicians desire for women leading to their downfall. Once again, the more things change, the more they stay the same."

You got that right.

message 6: by Bryan (last edited Mar 06, 2012 10:38AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bryan Craig I like this paragraph, again a common theme from our author:

"Fear of failure and the insistent parental summons to greatness, the all-too-familiar concerns that had been instilled in him as a youth, bore down with unprecedented ferocity upon Adams in Ghent. His "over-anxious" nature responded predictably when the negotiations thrust him into a situation where he felt insecure, and he quite lost the amiability that, twenty years earlier, had made him a genial leader among the young men of Boston." (p. 218)

I thought it was interesting how he seemed to get more insecure as he got older. However, he seemed to be effective.

Bryan Craig Also, was there any reason you could see why fight over the treaty materials with Clay??

Bryan Craig Treaty of Ghent:
signed on 24 December 1814, in Ghent (modern day Belgium, then in limbo between the First French Empire and United Kingdom of the Netherlands), was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The treaty largely restored relations between the two nations to status quo ante bellum. Because of the era's slow communications, it took weeks for news of the peace treaty to reach the United States, and the Battle of New Orleans was fought after it was signed though before it was ratified.


message 9: by Bryan (last edited Mar 08, 2012 09:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bryan Craig I enjoyed how JQA talked with major British figures and that he learned George III was ill.

Here is some information on porphyria:

George III suffered from the genetic disease porphyria, which had also tormented Mary Queen of Scots, who passed it on to her son, King James I of England.

We now know that there are at least eight types of porphyria, and that the clinical manifestation of each type is not the same. A common feature of all porphyrias is the accumulation in the body of "porphyrins" or "porphyrin precursors." These are normal body chemicals, but they do not normally accumulate. Each type of porphyria is determined by deficiency of a different enzyme. These enzyme deficiencies are usually inherited. Symptoms of the disease can include (but are not limited to) photosensitivity, strong abdominal pain, port wine-colored urine, muscle weakness or paralysis in the arms and legs, and behavioral changes including anxiety, irritability, and confusion. The interruption of nerve impulses to the brain can cause the development of psychiatric symptoms such as depression or delirium.

George III had a particularly severe form of porphyria. His first attack occurred in 1765, four years after his marriage to Queen Charlotte. Further signs of the disease showed up in 1788-1789. From 1811 to the time of his death in 1820 the royal patient became progressively insane and blind. He was nursed in isolation, and kept in straight jackets and behind bars in his private apartments at Windsor Castle.

Other members of the far-flung royal family who suffered from this hereditary disease were Queen Anne of Great Britain; Frederic the Great of Germany; George IV of Great Britain--son of George III; and George IV's daughter, Princess Charlotte, who died during childbirth of complications of the disease.


Bryan Craig This is interesting about him becoming secretary of state:

"Was he not reentering political life because the chief executive considered him the best person for the job? He insisted on this interpretation as reports began arriving that partisan considerations had compelled Monroe to name a New Englander as secretary of state. Such talk brought Adams once again to avow that he took a public office only when the sordid side of politics had not been involved. Despire his successes in St. Petersburg and London, he could still delude himself." (p. 233)


Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1246 comments So I am late but have several observations.
First the rigidity of thinking of this man is interesting. Did he get where he got by industry and intelligence. His non acceptance of Copernicus (pg 213) and his "belief" in the bible's succession of miracles (pg 235) seem rather confining to me.
His exposure to war but non participation in it may be revealed by his comments (pg 214) that “prolonged exposure to peace weakens the energies in the constitution of man”
Then just in passing I notice the “ease of work” he mostly seemed to have. No e-mails, no phone calls, not much late work (except dinners & parties), time to read and write poetry. I feel that the average human of this time would have been hard put to have such freedom. Certainly not the lawyers he left behind in America or the farmers anywhere in the world I guess. A pretty good gig. (On the other hand Lincoln, during the Civil War, had time for walks most evenings and his world was not easy I am pretty sure- but JQA I think is different)
I also noted his ambition (a continuation of his father’s and mother’s for their children) for his kids. Again this was tough work and certainly would make them unique. I notice that JQA’s two brothers wound up escaping into alcohol.
As we will go forward I am curious how JQA’s children will do.

Bryan Craig Vince wrote: "So I am late but have several observations.
First the rigidity of thinking of this man is interesting. Did he get where he got by industry and intelligence. His non acceptance of Copernicus (pg ..."

No problem Vince about the lateness. With my new edition to the family, I have to confess to my lateness in my reply :-)

1. I like your observation about Copernicus. This side of JQA was a surprise to me. I didn't know about his religious, but he turned into a pretty devout person. It is funny coming from John Adams.

2. It is natural to want your kids to excel and it does seem his boys finally found success. You get the impression they finally excepted their dad as who he was. I think JQA had trouble with that in his life.

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