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John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)
Audio

"Little Know Ye Who’s Comin"
John Q. Adams campaign song
©Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

John Quincy Adams's Ivory Cane
1840s

"I crave pardon for the vanity of this memorial"
In 1844, abolitionist supporters presented this ivory cane to John Quincy Adams, who had served as sixth president of the United States between 1825 and 1829 and was now a member of the House of Representatives. In Congress, Adams challenged the so-called "gag rule," which forbade antislavery groups from presenting their petitions to the House. Accordingly, the top of the cane is inscribed with the words, "Right of Petition Triumphant." Instead of accepting the cane as a gift, Adams received it as a "trust," in the name of the U.S. government. It was displayed in the Patent Office, where Adams (at least) once stopped by to admire it. Adams wrote of his affection for the cane in his diary: "I crave pardon for the vanity of this memorial."

Notes
John Quincy Adams, born July 11, 1767, Braintree [now Quincy], MA; died February 23, 1848, Washington, DC
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Learn more!
· John Quincy Adams, Sixth President, 1825-1829
· "The Object at Hand" by Edwards Park, "Smithsonian" magazine, October 1995
· "Little Know Ye Who’s Comin," John Q. Adams campaign song
· The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden - An NMAH Virtual Exhibition

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