Unconquered: John Quincy Adams on the Seminole Wars

I have to admit John Quincy Adams is for me one of the most underappreciated figures in the history of this nation. Like his father he a prickly personality and fierce political independence. Like his mother he had a strong moral code one that guided him particularly after she passed and he was out of the White House.

Tonight, as I often do, I finished the day off reading about history. The subject I was reading about relates to John Quincy Adams post-Presidency one of the most active in American history.

Adams of course was an enabler of General Andrew Jackson when he conducted Indian raids into Spanish Florida in 1817 and 1818 at a time when most other American officials were embarrassed by Jackson’s actions which eventually involved a full scale invasion of Florida without the consent of the President. Keep in mind Jackson also killed two British citizens without due process whom he accused of arming the Seminoles.

But by the time Adams was in his post-Presidency phase he had become an outspoken abolitionist and enemy of the Jacksonian Democrats. he had left the Democratic Party and essentially joined the Whigs in the late 1830’s (Adams was never much for political parties but had been a Democrat when he was President and elected to the House after he was defeated for reelection as President).  The Democratic Party as our readers know was basically a pro-slavery party prior and even during the Civil War – many of the “War Democrats” that stuck with the Union during the Civil War weren’t for abolition or any of the Civil Rights measures proposed by Republicans – they were simply northerners who didn’t commit treason.  Adams foresaw the choke-hold the South had developed on the Democratic Party in the Jackson years and the influence of John C. Calhoun and this bolted the party.

Adams views on the Seminole War are described below:

(Indian removal policy) is “violent and heartless.”

“Our last resources now are bloodhounds and no quarter. Sixteen millions of Anglo-Saxons unable to subdue in five years by force and by fraud, by secret treachery and by open war, sixteen hundred savage warriors! ”

“(The guerrilla war in Florida) is among the most heinous sins of this nation for which I believe god will one day bring them to judgement.”



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