Review of “Mr. Adams’s Last Crusade” by Joseph Wheelan

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Mr. Adams’s Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams’s Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life in Congress” is author Joseph Wheelan’s 2008 biography of our sixth president.  Wheelan, an Associated Press reporter for over two decades, is the author of six books including two on Thomas Jefferson.

Unlike most John Quincy Adams biographies, Wheelan focuses not on Adams’s unsuccessful term as president but, instead, on his unique and remarkably successful post-presidential career in Congress. Most authors have chosen the more natural story – focusing on his precocious youth and his productive years as a public servant leading to his one term as president.  Wheelan chose to focus on possibly the more compelling, and interesting, storyline.

While previous presidents retired to lives of farming and philosophizing, John Quincy Adams was convinced by his Massachusetts neighbors to run for a seat in Congress following his departure from the White House (much to the chagrin of…

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