John Quincy Adams White House portrait

On this day in 1767, John Quincy Adams is born. He was the sixth U.S. president, and the son of the second U.S. president, John Adams.

As a boy, he went with his father on diplomatic missions, then entered the legal profession after his schooling. As a young man, he served as minister to the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and England. John Quincy Adams became a Republican Senator, and helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812. He also served as secretary of state until the tie-breaking vote in the House elected him president over Andrew Jackson.

“Pursue the Practice”

Definitely his father’s son, who believed religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand,” John Quincy wrote this in a letter to his own “dear son”:

“for so great is my veneration for the Bible, and so strong my belief, that when duly read and meditated on, it is of all books in the world, that which contributes most to make men good, wise, and happy — that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more steadily they pursue the practice of reading it throughout their lives, the more lively and confident will be my hopes that they will prove useful citizens to their country, respectable members of society, and a real blessing to their parents.”

John Quincy Adams White House portrait


Amistad Thank You

On this day in 1840, former President John Quincy Adams begins to argue the Amistad case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is a portion of that argument:
“I know of no law, but one which I am not at liberty to argue before this Court, no law, statute or constitution, no code, no treaty, applicable to the proceedings of the Executive or the Judiciary, except that law, (pointing to the copy of the Declaration of Independence, hanging against one of the pillars of the court-room) that law, two copies of which are ever before the eyes of your Honors. I know of no other law that reaches the case of my clients, but the law of Nature and of Nature’s God on which our fathers placed our own national existence. The circumstances are so peculiar, that no code or treaty has provided for such a case. That law, in its application to my clients, I trust will be the law on which the case will be decided by this Court.”

“We will pray…”

This is an excerpt from a “thank you” letter to Mr. Adams from the Amistad rebels:
“We love you very much & we will pray for you when we rise up in the morning & when we lie down at night. We hope the Lord will love you very much & take you up to heaven when you die. We pray for all the good people who make us free. Wicked people want to make us slaves but the great God who has made all things raise up friends for Mendi people he give us Mr. Adams that he may make me free & all Mendi people free.”

Amistad Thank You to John Quincy Adams

Sara Margru Kinson

On this day in 1841, the Supreme Court rules on the mutiny staged by African slaves aboard the Amistad. The had been illegally forced into slavery, and so, are free under American law.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States (1825-1829) was part of the Africans’ defense team. He argued that they “were entitled to all the kindness and good offices due from a humane and Christian nation.” Read more about that, HERE.

It was not until November 1841, that the thirty-five Amistad survivors sailed back to Africa, accompanied by several missionaries. Abolitionists had cared for them in the interim.

Sarah and Sierra

Margru, one of those survivors, was just a child when she taken aboard the ship as a slave. When she returned to Sierra Leone she served as an evangelical missionary, with the name Sarah Margru Kinson. Then, in 1846, Sarah became the only Amistad captive to return to the United States where she studied at Ohio’s Oberlin College. In fact, she was the first female international student in America. Finally, in 1849, she returned to the mission she helped to establish in Sierra Leone, this time, as a teacher.

Sarah Margru Kinson Amistad