John Quincy Adams | 6th President | 1825-1829

Birthplace, Quincy, Massachusetts

John Quincy Adams was born on July 11, 1767, in the village of Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, located a few miles from Boston. There, the young John Quincy Adams lived the first nine years of his life learning mathematics, languages, and the classics from a doting father and affectionate mother. In his ninth year, however, Adams’s life abruptly changed: he became a child of the American Revolution. His father, John Adams-who would become the second president of the United States (1796-1800), helped draft the Declaration of Independence, and served, along with Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and George Washington, as a leader of the First Continental Congress.

In the first year of war, young John Quincy Adams feared for the life of his father, and worried that his family might be taken hostage by the British. Indeed, when John Adams signed his name to the Declaration of Independence, he had committed an act of treason against England, an offense punishable by death. For young John Quincy, his tenth year was actually the beginning of his manhood, and he recalled later in life feeling responsible-as the eldest son-for protecting his mother while his father attended to the business of revolution.

The John Adams and John Quincy Adams Birthplaces are the oldest Presidential birthplaces in the United States. In 1735, John Adams was born in the saltbox house located only 75 feet away from the birthplace of his son, John Quincy Adams. In the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, young John and his bride Abigail started their family and the future President launched his career in politics and law. John Adams maintained his law office in the house and it was here that he, Samuel Adams, and James Bowdoin wrote the Massachusetts Constitution. This document, still in use today, greatly influenced development of the United States Constitution.

Home, The Old House, Quincy, Massachusetts

The Old House, built in 1731, became the residence of the Adams family for four generations from 1788 to 1927. It was the home to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams; First Ladies Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams; Civil War Minister to Great Britain Charles Francis Adams; and literary historians Henry Adams and Brooks Adams. The Adams family’s legacy of service to their Nation is reflected as much by the 78,000 artifacts inside the Old House as by its historic landscape. The Old House grounds include a historic orchard, an 18th-century style formal garden that contains thousands of annual and perennial flowers, and an 1873 Carriage House.

Stone Library, The Old House, Quincy, Massachusetts

The Adamses lived by the written word, and later additions accommodated their library and collection of personal papers, as well as housing their ever-growing family. At one point there were seventeen members of what John Adams called “my complicated family” staying more or less permanently with them. An elegant formal garden and apple orchards surround the house. The backyard is also the site of the stone library Charles Francis Adams constructed to house his father’s and grandfather’s books and papers. Here he wrote the Memoirs of his father, and his son, Henry Adams, wrote the classic 9-volume History of the United States.

Gravesite, First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts

On February 21, 1848, a severe stroke hit John Quincy Adams just minutes after casting a loud “No!” vote against a motion to decorate certain army officers serving in the Mexican War. It happened, on the House floor in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Two days later, he slipped into a comma moments after uttering these last words: “This is the end of earth. But I am content.” On February 25, 1848, at the age of eighty years, the former president died. For two days mourners filed by his open casket in a House committee room. His body was buried next to his parents, John and Abigail Adams, beneath the Congregational church in Quincy. The man whom many historians consider the most learned person to have ever served as president left his 8,500-volume library and personal papers, as well as his home and lands, to his surviving son, Charles Francis Adams. The remainder of his estate he divided among his wife, daughter-in-law Mary Helen Adams (widow of his son John Adams II), granddaughter Mary Louisa Adams, and son, Charles Francis Adams.

The United First Parish Church, constructed in 1828, was designed by Alexander Parris and partially financed through the generous land donation from John Adams. The crypt beneath the sanctuary is the final resting place of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and First Ladies Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams.

Original Gravesite and Cenotaph, Congressional Cemetery, Washington, DC

Congressional Cemetery was established by a group of private citizens on April 4, 1807. The founders enclosed the square, appointed a sexton, and began selling sites for $2.00. Free of debt in 1812, it was ceded to the vestry of Christ Church, Washington Parish, and became known as Washington Parish Burial Ground.

From the beginning the cemetery enjoyed a close association with the Capitol and its environs. The first interment – April 11, 1807 – was of William Swinton, regarded as the finest stonecutter in Philadelphia, who had been recruited the previous August by Benjamin Latrobe to work on the Capitol Building. On July 19, 1807, Sen. Uriah Tracy of Connecticut became the first legislator to be buried here.

In 1816, as a gesture of good will, the vestry set aside 100 burial sites for the interment of Members of Congress. Later the privilege was extended to their families. Periodically, other sites were donated to or purchased by the government, eventually totaling 924. Generally, those sites were used for the interment of officials who died in office. Other dignitaries lie in private plots scattered throughout the cemetery.

In 1835, a receiving vault was built to hold remains until either the gravesite could be prepared or transportation arranged to another city. The bodies of Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Quincy Adams, and Zachary Taylor and First Ladies Dolley Madison and Louisa Adams were held here pending removal to their home states. Journals and newspaper articles of the nineteenth century are replete with accounts of funeral processions from the Capitol, which conclude at the Public Vault.

With the increased use of the cemetery by the government, it became more commonly known as Congressional Cemetery. Although unofficial as the resting place for Members of Congress, some Members were reinterred here from other cemeteries as far away as New York. Over each grave the Congress erected a monument designed by Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the Capitol. For those Members who died in office and were buried elsewhere, the Congress erected cenotaphs, or “empty tombs,” of the same Latrobe design to commemorate their service.

Original Gravesite, Hancock Cemetery, Quincy, Massachusetts

John Quincy Adams, after first taken to the public vault at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC, was buried at Hancock Cemetery in his hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts. His father, John Adams, was also temporarily buried in this cemetery. Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and their wives, were later interred in a crypt beneath the First Parish Church in the same town of Quincy, Massachusetts. Other relatives of John Quincy Adams interred at Hancock Cemetery include his grandfather, Deacon John Adams, his grandmother, Susanna Boylston Adams, and his great-grandfather Joseph Adams.