John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) was the eldest son of President John Adams, and himself the sixth president of the United States. The younger Adams gained a national reputation during his tenure as secretary of state (1817-25) under James Monroe, when he was the central force behind Monroe's foreign policy statement calling for an end to European intervention in the Americas (later known as the Monroe Doctrine). Adams' election to the presidency in 1824 was decided in the House of Representatives because no candidate received a clear electoral majority; the selection of Adams over Andrew Jackson, who won more popular votes, was extremely controversial. After Jackson won a resounding victory in 1828, Adams returned to Congress to serve with distinction as a U.S. representative from the Whig Party (1831-48). He remains the only former president to serve in the House after his term was over.
Adams became increasingly outspoken and progressive during the final years of his life as a U.S. representative. At the end of 1844, he finally brought an end to the House "gag rule," which banned all debate about slavery. The rule had been in place for eight years, and Adams had been voted down in each of several previous attempts to repeal it. Adams also led the small Whig opposition to the Mexican-American War. Most Whigs dared not vote against the requisition bills for the war, as doing so would deny resources to Gen. Taylor's army, which was already suffering casualties against Mexican forces. The final vote on the war in the House was 174-14. Adams led the tiny opposition and referred to the conflict with Mexico as "a most unrighteous war."