JOHN QUINCY ADAMS: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF AN INDEPENDENT MAN
by Marie B. Hecht
ISBN 978-0-945707-12-7 $35.00
682 pages including notes, bibliography index and illustrations
Originally published in 1972 by the Macmillan Company,
Marie B. Hecht's biography of John Quincy Adams is by consensus the definitive
portrait of John Quincy Adams' personal life.
"My son! No man except your Father was ever placed in more
delicate or dangerous situations than you are!" John Adams to John
Among American Presidents, John Quincy Adams holds the record
of having been both the youngest and oldest servant of the republic.
From age 14, when the precocious boy became secretary to the American minister
to Russia, to age 80, when "Old Man Eloquent" collapsed on the floor of
the House of Representatives, nearly all of Adams' long life was devoted
to the service of his country. Yet, despite the voluminous diaries
and records he kept from his childhood during the Revolution to his final
days in Congress on the eve of the Civil War, Adams remains perhaps the least
known and understood of all the Presidents. With John Quincy Adams,
Marie B. Hecht has rectified this situation.
Not only has Mrs. Hecht given a full account of Adams' public
life as foreign diplomat during the Washington and Adams administrations,
Secretary of State under Monroe, partyless President (Adams considered himself
"a man of my whole country"), and Massachusetts Congressman, she has thoroughly
reviewed his personal life as well - - thereby humanizing the sixth President
and dispelling the myth that he was simply "a chip off the old iceberg."
She describes his relationships with his father, the fervid patriot and second
President, his charming and witty mother, with his brothers and sister, with
his wife, Louisa Catherine Johnson, and their four children (three of whom
tragically died), and with his numerous friends and often more numerous enemies.
Adams emerges as a vastly complicated man: enormously learned, independent,
incorruptible, austere, crusty yet highly sensitive.