creators home
creators.com lifestyle web
peter rexfod

Recently

Reflections of Camelot in Pure Gold Sometimes, it might seem hard to see how quickly things change. Let me help. Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was the law of the land. Whether you agree or not is not the point. Barely 50 years ago, in 1962, things like that …Read more. Never Say Never in Search of Treasure As adages go, "never say never" has become a staple. The James Bond franchise played on it successfully in the 1980s and everyone from Romeo Void and The Fray to Justin Bieber has used it in songs. Treasure hunters have to be the biggest adherents …Read more. Elvis Ready to Make an Encore Performance Twenty-two years ago, I found myself in Memphis for the biggest ceremony in Postal Service history. After several years of debate and deliberation, the USPS decided to go ahead and issue a stamp honoring Elvis Presley. The controversy involved Elvis'…Read more. America's Favorite Road Will Be in Your Pocket For school kids across the country, their favorite annual distraction again arrived. School is out and vacation is here. The anticipation for this has been going on for decades. Kids spend the last few weeks of the term dreaming about summer fun, …Read more.
more articles

Our President Sat Naked on the Banks of the Potomac

Comment

It may have been over 180 years ago, but this year's political campaign has been eerily similar to that of 1824. In that race, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson and Harris Crawford were all vying for the presidency. The four split the votes in the Electoral College (sound familiar?) so none was the definitive winner. Jackson won the popular vote, but when Clay threw his support for Adams, the latter was elected president.

That should have ended it, but those were cantankerous times. Jackson was beyond upset — so much so that he rallied his supporters and vowed to do everything possible to ruin Adams' term. It worked. Jackson thwarted virtually every initiative Adams proposed as president. His one term in office is still recognized as one of the most ineffectual in history.

All that was also not for a lack of intelligence. A graduate of Harvard, Adams spoke seven languages and had been a U.S. diplomat to Russia, England, Germany and The Netherlands. Like his father — second president John Adams — John Quincy was also known to be a stubborn, confrontational, easily angered, depressed perfectionist. Given all that, to the delight of others in attendance he also had a proclivity for dining alone even at diplomatic gatherings.

Not dissimilar to every man to ever hold the office of president, Adams had curious behaviors that, today, would result in either impeachment or being committed to an institution. For instance, John Quincy loved to swim. That's fine. He was a fitness buff. Though, buff is the right word because he loved swimming nude in ice water. Remember, he lived in a time before refrigeration so ice water was found only outside, say, in the Potomac River.

On one occasion he and an assistant were canoeing across the Potomac so Adams could swim back.

In turbulent waters the canoe capsized and sank. They made it to shore and his aid went to summon help while the president of the United States sat shivering naked on the bank. Fortunately for Adams (and all of us), the invention of photography was years away.

John Quincy holds another distinction — he remains the only president to serve in the Congress after his term of executive office. Many scoffed, but it was there that he made his true mark.

An ardent abolitionist, Adams opposed slavery. He agreed to defend a group of Africans who had been captured aboard the ship "Amistad." Recognizing they were free men and women who had been illegally taken, he pleaded their case to the Supreme Court. His education and oratorical skills were so persuasive that — even with the majority of the judges being slave owners — he prevailed and the Africans were returned to their homeland.

Idiosyncrasies aside, his successful litigation on behalf of the "Amistad" captives qualifies him for an honor. This month, the Mint has done that by featuring John Quincy Adams on the sixth coin in the Presidential Golden Dollar series.

Now available at many banks, the coin includes a portrait of Adams on the obverse with the Statue of Liberty on the reverse. Uncirculated Adams dollar coins are also available in rolls and bags directly from the U.S. Mint. For more information, log on to www.usmint.gov or phone 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).

NOTE TO EDITORS: A JPEG visual of the new John Quincy Adams golden dollar coin has been sent with this column.

To find out more about Peter Rexford and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
Other similar columns
Paul Paquet
Trivia Bits
by Paul Paquet
Dan Berger
Dan Berger on Wine
by Dan Berger
Matthew Margolis
Barks and Recreation
by Jessica Burtch
More
Peter Rexford
Jul. `15
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month