American History 101

When I can’t sleep, instead of sheep, I count the presidents, making certain to remember all 45 of them.

I toss in trivia like, Lincoln was the tallest at 6’4, while James Madison, the shortest at 5’4 weighing only 100 pounds, where William Howard Taft weighed in at 300, and the only other president, besides JFK, to be buried at Arlington.

But my favorite president, next to Teddy, was our 6th…John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, our 2nd. I even have a stuffed lion named after him.

What I loved most about John Quincy was his inherent integrity, how he never backed down, especially fighting against slavery...speaking his mind and his conscience, to quote the writer/historian, David McCullough.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.” JQA

I liked knowing he was romantic as well, penning verse to his wife, Louisa, when they were often apart, laced with a touch of lust.

He was also the only president to ever return to the House of Representatives, pairing humility with his integrity earning him the name, Old Man Eloquent.

He said, it was the happiest 17 years of his life.

In, 1848, at the age of 80, John Quincy collapsed at his desk. If you go on a tour of the United States Capitol, in Statuary Hall, a brass plate in the floor marks the spot. He was carried to the speaker’s office where he died, two days later while Henry Clay, in tears, held his hand.

He died in harness, as they said back then…with his boots on, as we say now.

Knowing our history emboldens us, making us proud to be Americans and much less fearful of the future, regardless, of who’s at the helm.

Like the great filmmaker, Ken Burns, always says…

You can’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

John Quincy Adams… 1767-1848

JQA was the very first president to ever be photographed.






About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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40 Responses to American History 101

  1. I didn’t know anything about him but his parents were incredibly interesting so he had to be unique.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was truly unique..sui generis if you will…:)

      His parents were so determined for him to be great. He was their eldest, and he did incredible things when he was so young, but was sullen and moody having missed his childhood. At 12 he was speaking French living with his father in France hanging out with Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Sounds cool on paper, but he was just a kid. Loved to read. We like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rubenstein, Hal says:

    Nice piece of history for today!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. E says:

    Integrity counts and sleeps peacefully.


  4. I’d have a hard time preparing to court sleep by going through the presidents. John could do it, though. I can’t remember the last time I couldn’t sleep, so I’m not going to worry about the presidential lineup. Your facts about John Quincy were most interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, I love when you scatter seeds of tantalizing historical insights. Makes me want to get a book on JQA, knowing that both Pookie and I will enjoy it. I never knew any of these facts about him.
    You would have made a great history teacher. So many teachers never make their lessons interesting by dispersing the human interest with the facts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I admire your ability to name all the presidents. I’ve tried to learn them all, but usually get bogged down in the 1800s. I’m listening to an audio-book right now about Teddy Roosevelt; it’s a fictional story about him and his son Kermit hunting a strange beast in the Amazon.


    • Speaking of TR and the Amazon, have you ever read River of Doubt, by Canduce Millard? It’s great. He got very sick and wanted his son, Kermit, to leave him there to die, but he refused. Teddy lore’s the best. Can’t help but to love history…:)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I could sit on your tour bus ALL day and learn more than I ever did in a classroom. I need to personalize people before I can care about their accomplishments. It’s much more interesting for me to know that he swam naked, which will then make me remember he was our 6th president. Well done Grasshopper, well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. perithyst says:

    Wow! Very interesting! I don’t know my presidents very well (if at all), but always assumed JQA was one of the unimportant ones. It seems that is not so.


    • That was happens when you quietly do your job without ego. JQA was a special man much better suited for The House of Representatives than as president. He didn’t care for the limelight. Just did his work diligently. Hail John. Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post! I ‘survived’ an MRI scan by listing in order all the kings and queens of England from QEII to Henry Tudor – (I get a little sketchy when it comes to the medieval period) and back up again!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Doubt if there is another President who can measure upto him (going by your description)
    Enjoyed this piece.


  11. I think I once saw that JQA liked to go swimming in the Potomac.


  12. (And, during boring meetings at work I sometimes pretend to be writing notes but am really writing out the presidents in order)


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