Podcasts Constitutionally Speaking

Episode 62: One-Term Wonders: John Quincy Adams, the Last Jeffersonian?

Detail of portrait of John Quincy Adams by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1858. (White House Historical Association/Wikimedia)

Like his father in so many ways, JQA was a man of immense talents, a statesman of vast achievements, a brilliant political mind, and — like his father — a one-term president. JQA may, still, be the most qualified person ever to reach the presidency. And yet from the outset, his presidency was a failure. His political angling to get the presidency, the so-called “Corrupt Bargain” between Adams and fourth-place finisher Henry Clay, pitched Adams into the presidency via the House of Representatives. Even though this conformed to the formal constitutional method of selection, it offended the political sensibilities of most Americans and limited Adams’s effectiveness. Jay and Luke trace Adams’s policy priorities, his role in advancing what became the American System, and how his administration paved the way for the Jacksonian era.