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How can you explain John Quincy Adam’s great success as secretary of state and his relative lack of success as president? Essay

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Updated: Apr 15th, 2019

John Quincy Adams was credited as a very successful secretary of state. He was well endowed with superb diplomatic skills. He served in this position during the two terms of James Monroe’s presidency. He clearly articulated the legislative agenda of James Monroe. In particular, he brought the American foreign policy into sharp focus by outlining all the Monroe’s doctrines in regards to how the American nation was supposed to relate to the outside world.[1]

In addition, Quincy managed to create a firm foundation of foreign policy that was later used as a model by the future presidents. In order to explain why John Quincy made a lot of progress as a secretary of state than when he was a president, the essay will explore his performance in both capacities.

To begin with, it is vital to mention that John Quincy Adams had a very cordial relationship with his father especially in regards to political life. Their political and leadership styles were similar. This also explains why they both lost reelection to white house after avoiding a lot of politics while still in office.

One of the outstanding successes of John Quincy Adams when he was a secretary of state was the Doctrine of Monroe. This doctrine was adopted in 1823. It aimed at ending the American colonization by Europeans. Adams is believed to have taken a very smart diplomatic and effective approach in negotiating with the Europeans on the need of stopping further colonization.

Although the approach was diplomatic, the contents of the doctrine were more assertive than persuasive.[2] Adams moved ahead and agitated for the unanimous adoption of the Transcontinental Treaty.

Although Adams was not the president at this time, many people believed that he was the key architect in the formulation of the treaty. It was also perceived as a landmark diplomatic victory for the country. Spain appended its signature to the treaty in 1819 and ratified it about two years later.[3]

The ratification of the treaty led to the acquisition of additional territory by the United States of America. This would not have been possible without the skilful diplomatic nature of John Quincy Adams. This was a pioneering treaty bearing in mind that it placed the American nation on a new liberal platform void of colonialism. One of the outstanding provisions of the treaty was that America was supposed to waiver the Spanish debt of five million dollars in exchange for both the west and east Florida.

On the other hand, Quincy did not achieve remarkable success when he was at the helm of the presidency. Historians acknowledge that he faced a lot of opposition during his presidency compared to when he was the secretary of state. As a matter of fact, he had no opposition at all as a secretary of state.

The Jacksonians in Congress gave him a lot of hard time. They were deemed to be hostile to the administrative agenda of Adams. As a result, he did not accomplish a lot as a president during his reign. For instance, Adams suggested a progressive national program that was supposed to boost the development of infrastructure throughout the country.

As a president, he had a desire to roll out a development program that would improve basic infrastructure as well as enhance the quality of higher education by starting a new university. However, the critics drawn from Jackson’s supporters lamented that the federal government did not have the express authority to undertake such programs.[4]

They argued that it was against the constitution for President Adams to assume such development mandate. Adams also wanted to establish a new territory for the native population. However, the idea was not unanimously supported by the law making organ. Although he managed to complete quite a number of projects, most of them failed due to lack of congressional support.

Bibliography

Henretta, James and Brody, David. American: A Concise History. Volume I: To 1877. (4th Ed). Boston: Bedford/St Martins, 2009.

Footnotes

  1. James Henretta and David Brody, American: A Concise History. Volume I: To 1877. (4th Ed). (Boston: Bedford/St Martins, 2009), 165.
  2. Ibid, 287
  3. Ibid, 354
  4. Ibid, 429
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IvyPanda. (2019) 'How can you explain John Quincy Adam's great success as secretary of state and his relative lack of success as president'. 15 April.

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