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|Publisher:||St. Martin's Publishing Group|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Phyllis Lee Levin is the author of several books including Abigail Adams and Edith and Woodrow. She has been a reporter, editor, and columnist for The New York Times and lives in Manhattan.
Read an Excerpt
The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams
By Phyllis Lee Levin
Palgrave MacmillanCopyright © 2015 Phyllis Lee Levin
All rights reserved.
"A LEGACY MORE VALUABLE THAN GOLD OR SILVER"
On the lilac-scented evening of June 3, 1794, John Quincy Adams, then 27, left his Boston law office, at Franklin and the corner of Court Street, stopped at the post office in the Daily Mail building on State Street, and retrieved a letter from his father, John Adams, vice president of the United States, postmarked Philadelphia. He mounted his horse once more and wound his way over the hilly terrain, the narrow, crooked cobblestone paths and dirt lanes, mercifully quiet at day's end when the "Rattle Gabble" (his father's words) of sights and sounds had dispersed. He hadn't an inkling of the "very unexpected and indeed surprising" contents of the letter in his pocket.
Home at last—he was boarding with a favorite cousin and namesake of his mother Abigail and her husband, Dr. Thomas Welsh at 39 Hanover Street—he could open the letter that would mark the beginning of his public career and the end of the only "absolute private life he ever had an opportunity to enjoy."
John Quincy read and reread his father's news with some wonder, doubt and hope all at once. His father wrote that he had received an important visit that morning. The purpose of Secretary of State Edmund Randolph's call was to give John Adams a personal report of President George Washington's plan to nominate his son to go to The Hague as minister resident of the United States of America to their High Mightinesses the States General of the United Netherlands. "The President desired to know if I thought you would accept," his father continued. "I answered that I had no authority from you, but it was my opinion that you would accept, and that it would be my advice that you should."
John Quincy's knowledge of Dutch, his education in France and his acquaintance with his father's old friends and colleagues in Europe would give him advantages beyond many others. It would, however, "require all your prudence and all your other virtues as well as all your talents." The tone turned conspiratorial as father warned son: "Be secret. Don't open your mouth to any human being on the subject except your mother. Go and see with how little wisdom this world is governed."
Four days later, overflowing with pride, the eager father assured his son that the nomination, the result of the presiden