John Quincy Adams & Pet Alligator, Honestly, I think that if you’re going to be president, you’re going to need a pet to help you get through the four years of living hell that await you. Now, don’t get me wrong–I admire every single one of our forty-three (well, forty-two different men, since Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms) presidents, if only for having the guts to take on such a demanding and often thankless job. (Or maybe they were all just crazy?) But it’s certainly a job I’d never want.
I have to wonder if John Quincy Adams really wanted the job, either. I suspect that if he had abandoned his duty to his country, he would have written angsty poetry, an earlier version of Edgar Allan Poe. But no, he was an Adams. And an Adams, by thunder, lived to serve his country.
JQA was amazingly intelligent and had spent his entire life from the tender age of ten being schooled to be a prominent figure in public life, just like his dear daddy, John Adams. Before he was president he had been ambassador to many different foreign countries, US Senator, and secretary of state. He never could have won the presidency in this day and age because he was, by his own admission, “a man of reserved, cold, austere, and forbidding manners”. He had none of the charisma that propels politicions of today. If he believed in a cause, he pursued it, not worrying about whose feelings he hurt along the way. Heck, he didn’t even win the popular OR electoral vote in the 1824 presidential election.