Presidential History Blog

The curmudgeon and the public nuisance: an odd couple.

John Quincy Adams

When John Quincy Adams became President in 1825, there were few who could match his stellar credentials: A cosmopolitan European education, Harvard graduate, legislative appointments and a long career in foreign diplomacy, including eight years as Secretary of State.

Alas for JQ, his popularity as a foreign diplomat failed him completely in the “small-d” democratic US government. He was perceived to be cold, aloof, sardonic, unbending and a few other choice detrimental words. But he was no fool. He knew his shortcomings.

He also knew that his presidency, while filled with fine and far-sighted proposals, would be unpopular and disappointing.

Anne Royall, Journalist

During her long lifetime, Anne Royall (1769-1854) was considered by her contemporaries as a common scold, a termagant and other disparaging epithets. Modern historians, however, who love to nitpick and repaint history with glowing brushes…

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