John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams ( 1767-1848), son of John Adams, became President by a fluke. In 1824, since none of the candidates -- Adams, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, or William H. Crawford -- had received an electoral majority, the presidential contest was taken to the House of Representatives. When the House voted on February 9, 1825, the deciding vote was cast by New York. But the New York delegation was divided; General Stephen Van Rensselaer, "the last of the Patroons," became the key figure. Van Rensselaer had originally been committed to Crawford; and Martin Van Buren, who was anxious to block Adams's election, urged him to hold firm. But Clay (who was releasing his votes to Adams) and Daniel Webster put great pressure on him to vote for Adams in order to keep Jackson from winning. When it came time to vote, Van Rensselaer was thoroughly perplexed; he simply didn't know what to do. But being a pious man, he dropped his head on the desk just before the ballot box reached him and prayed to the Lord for guidance. When he lifted his head and opened his eyes, he saw a ballot on the floor by his seat with Adams's name on it. Interpreting this as an expression of God's will, he cast his vote for Adams, and as a result Adams won New York and with it the Presidency. 1

Adams experienced no great joy at his election. "Less possessed of your confidence in advance than any of my predecessors," he observed glumly in his inaugural address, "I am deeply conscious


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Presidential Anecdotes
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