Archive for February 20th, 2012

John Quincy Adams – Patriot, Poet, Statesman, and Sage

February 20, 2012

[From the Baltimore Patriot.]
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

Wonderful man! whose mighty mind
Not even age itself can blight;
He is an honor to mankind,
And to the world a shining light;
His voice is heard in freedom’s halls,
As oft ’twas heard in olden time,
Echoing along the lofty walls,
In tones of eloquence sublime.

Patriot and poet, statesman, sage,
The friend of freedom and our race;
His fame shall live thro’ every age,
And millions yet unborn shall trace
The record of his bright renown,
And of his brilliant deeds sublime,
Which shall to mighty men go down
Upon the future tide of time.

To Ireland’s hero he the lyre
Has swept and sung of other days,
While listening ears poetic fire,
Perceivedin all his lofty lays;
The thunders of his touching tongue,
From which corruption shrinks in fear,
Thro’ freedom’s temple oft have rung,
When listening Senates’ lean’d to hear.

Had he in ancient Greece appeared,
Immortal would have been his name;
Statues to him would have been reared,
And by the golden pen of fame,
His glory on the mighty scroll,
High in her temple would be placed;
Almost on marble would his soul,
By Grecian gratitude be traced.

J.H.N.

The Ohio Repository (Canton, Ohio) Jul 8, 1847

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

The October Number of the “Democratic Review,” published at Washington, contains some very interesting “glances at Congress,” in which several of the most prominent members are described in a graphic and somewhat impartial manner. The following sketch of that extraordinary man, JOHN Q. ADAMS, will be read with much interest:
Cum. Pres.

“Our attention is now attracted to a ray of light that glitters on the appex of a balk and noble head located on the left of the House, in the neighborhood of the speaker’s chair. It proceeds from that wonderful man who in his person combines the agitator, poet, philosopher, statesman, critic and orator — John Quincy Adams. There he sits, hour after hour, day after day, with untiring patience, never absent from his seat, never voting for an adjournment of the House, his ear ever on the alert always prepared to go at once into the profoundest questions of state or the minutest points or order. We look at him and mark his cold and fearless eye, his stern and abstracted gaze, and conjure up phantoms of other scenes. We look upon a more than king, who has filled every department of honor in his native land, still at his post; he who was the president of millions, now the representative of forty odd thousand, quarrelling about trifles or advocating high principles; to day growling and sneering at the House, with an abolition petition in his trembling hand, and anon lording it over the passions, and lashing the members into the wildest state of enthusiasm by his indignant and emphatic eloquence. Alone unspoken to, unconsulted with others, he sits apart, wrapped in his reveries, or probably he is writing, his almost perpetual employment. He looks enfeebled, but yet he is never tired; worn out, but ever ready for the combat; melancholy, but let a witty thing fall from any member that hazards an arrow at him — the eagle is not swifter in its flight than Mr. Adams; with his agitated finger quivering in sarcastic gesticulation, he seizes upon his foe, and, amid the amazement of the House, rarely fails to take signal vengeance. His stores of knowledge on every subject, garnered up through the course of his extraordinary life, in the well arraigned store house of a memory which is said never to have permitted a single fact to escape it, give him a great advantage over all comers in encounters of this kind. He is a wonderful eccentric genius. He belongs to no party, nor does any party belong to him. He is original, of very peculiar ideas, and perfectly fearless and independent in expressing and maintaining them. His manner of speaking is peculiar; he rises abruptly, his face reddens, and in a moment, throwing himself into the attitude of  a veteran gladiator, he prepares for the attack; then he becomes full of gesticulation, his body sways to and fro self command seems lost, his head is bent forward in his earnestness till it sometimes touches the desk; his voice frequently breaks, but he pursues his subject through all its bearings — nothing daunts him — the House may ring with cries of order — order! unmoved, contemptuous he stands amid the tempest, and like an oak that knows its gnarled and knotted strength, stretches his arm forth and defies the blast.

Alton Observer (Alton, Illinois) Jan 4, 1838

REMINISCENCE OF J.Q. ADAMS.

The Hon. John Quincy Adams concluded his argument before the United States Supreme Court, in the Amistad case, with the following touching reminiscence:

May it please your Honor: On the 7th of February, 1804, now more than thirty-seven years past, my name was entered, and yet stands recorded on both the rolls, as one of the attorneys and counselors of this Court. Five years later, in February and March, 1809, I appeared for the last time before this Court, in defense of the cause of justice, and of important rights, in which many of my fellow citizens had property to a large amount at stake. Very shortly afterwards, I was called to the discharge of other duties; first in distant lands, and in later years, within our own country, but in different departments of her Government. –

Little did I imagine that I should ever be required to claim the right of appearing in the capacity of an officer of this Court. Yet such has been the dictate of my destiny; and I appear again to plead the cause of justice, and now of liberty and life, in behalf of many of my fellow-men, before that same Court, which, in a former age, I had addressed in support of rights of property. I stand again, I trust for the last time, before the same Court, “hic castus artemque repeno.” I stand before the same Court, but not before the same judges, nor aided by the same associates, nor resisted by the same opponents. As I cast my eyes along those seats of honor and of public trust, now occupied by you, they seek in vain for one of those honored and honorable persons whose indulgence listened then to to my voice. Marshall, Cushing, Case, Washington, Johnson, Livingston, Todd: where are they? Where is that eloquent statesman and learned lawyer who was my associate counsel in the management of that cause — Robert Goodloe Harper? Where is that brilliant luminary, so long the pride of Maryland and of the American bar, then my opposing counsel — Luther Martin? Where is the excellent clerk of that day, whose name has been inscribed on the shores of Africa, as a monument of his abhorrence to the African slave trade — Elias B. Caldwell? Where is the marshal? Where are the criers of the Court? Alas! where is one of the very judges of the Court, arbiters of life or death, before whom I commenced this anxious argument? Gone! — gone from a world of sin and sorrow, I trust — to that blest abode, “where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.” And it is my ardent wish, and fervent prayer, that each and every one of you, may go to this final account with as little of earthly frailty to answer for, as those illustrious dead; and that you may every one, after the close of a long and virtuous career in this world, be received at the portals of the next with the approving sentence: Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Alton Telegraph And Democratic Review (Alton, Illinois) Mar 17, 1848

MR. ADAMS’ KINDNESS

The anecdotes of he ‘old man eloquent,’ would fill a volume. One of the most touching, and eminently illustrative of the devotedness which his domestic virtues called forth from those in his service, was recently narrated to us in substance as follows:

‘A few years ago, as John Quincy Adams was riding to the capitol, his horses became unmanageable and overturned his coach, dashing the driver, and Irishman, who had long been in Mr. Adams’ employ, with great violence against a post or the corner of a building. He was taken up for dead, and carried to an apartment in the capitol, under the room in which Mr. Adams breathed his last, followed by many persons among them Mr. Adams himself. After some time the injured man was restored to consciousness, and, apparently regardless of his own sufferings, turning his eyes anxiously around, his first words were — ‘Is Mr. Adams safe?’ Mr. Adams replied that he was unhurt. The poor fellow exclaimed, ‘Then I am content,’ and relapsed into an unconscious state. The venerable statesman was deeply moved at his evidence of affectionate regard for his welfare, and tears flowed down his cheeks. The wounded and suffering man was taken to the Patriot’s house, but did not survive until morning. Mr. Adams was engaged to speak in some important cause before the Supreme Court of the United States on that day — it is believed in the Amistad case; but his feelings were such that he went to he Court, and stating the circumstances that had occurred, solicited, as a personal favor, the postponement of the case until the next day, which was accordingly granted. The tokens of mourning were placed on Mr. Adams’ door, as if one of his own family had deceased; and the funeral took place from his house, and under his personal superintendence. Truly has it been said of the illustrious sage, ‘that he concentrated affection at home.’

Salem (Mass.) Register.

American Freeman (Prairieville, Wisconsin) Apr 5, 1848

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS ON EDITORS. 

In July, 1822, a plan for an independent newspaper was proposed to John Quincy Adams by some members of Congress, and the necessity of such a paper was urged upon him with great earnestness. He replied:

“An independent newspaper is very necessary to make truth known to the people; but an editor really independent must have a heart of oak, nerves of iron, and a soul of adamant to carry it through. His first attempt will bring a hornet’s nest about his head; and, if they do not sting him to death or to blindness, he will have to pursue his march with them continually swarming over him, and be beset on all sides with obloquy and slander.”

The Berkshire County Eagle (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) Jan 26, 1860

When John Quincy Adams was elected to the House of Representatives he found that he was the owner of some shares in the United States Bank. Before taking his seat he sold his shares, on the ground that, as a representative of the people, he should not have an interest in any matter that might come before the House for legislation.

What a blessed thing it would be if our members to-day were to be governed by the same sense of honor.

Allen County Democrat (Lima, Ohio) Mar 16, 1876

Image from Ancient Faces

The late Charles Francis Adams believed in himself as well as in his ancestors. Introduced to speak at a political meeting as the grandson of President John Adams, and the son of John Quincy Adams, he at once said: “The fact of my ancestry has been referred to several times during the evening. I am proud of my father and grandfather, but I wish it distinctly understood that I appear before you as myself, and not as the son and grandson of any man.”

He then went on and made one of the most powerful speeches of the day. The moral is obvious. Every tub has its own bottom. Every American it his own ancestor.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) Dec 15, 1886

Didn’t Inspire Him.

When Lafayette visited Virginia he was entertained with other eminent guests by President Monroe at Oak Hill. Leesburg, too, the historic town nine miles from Monroe’s country seat, accorded him honors on that occasion, and at a dinner at that town John Quincy Adams delivered a famous toast to the surviving patriots of the Revolution, who, he said, were like the sibylline leaves — the fewer they became the more precious they were.

On the return to Oak Hill another of Monroe’s guests said to Mr. Adams:

“Excuse the impertinence, but would you not tell me what inspired the beautiful sentiment of your toast today?”

“Why,” replied Mr. Adams, “it was suggested this morning by the picture of the sibyl that hangs in the hall of the Oak Hill mansion.”

“How strange!” remarked the less brilliant guest. “I have looked at that picture many times during the past years, and that thought never occurred to me.”

Adams County News (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jun 25, 1910

*****

Previously Posted:

The Life and Death of John Quincy Adams


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 243 other followers