John Quincy Adams is often remembered as a single-term president who won the White House on a “corrupt bargain” and was swept from power by the rise of Andrew Jackson’s populism. Yet Adams was a pivotal figure in the young Republic’s foreign policy, combining an impressive diplomatic career with a careful strategic mind. In fact, despite the vast differences between the world today and the world of his era, Adams’ ideas offer enduring lessons for those who would craft an effective U.S. foreign policy.
John Allen Gay is executive director of the John Quincy Adams Society, a nonpartisan national network of student groups focused on foreign policy. Previously, Gay was managing editor of National Interest magazine, and he is coauthor of War with Iran: Political, Military, and Economic Consequences (2013).