Foreign Affairs under J.Q. Adams

The primary focus of diplomatic activity during the Adams administration was a contest with Britain over trade and influence in Latin America. The United States suffered two embarrassments, one in Mexico in the Poinsett affair and the other at the Panama Congress of 1826.

  • The Poinsett Affair. Joel R. Poinsett of South Carolina was appointed the first American minister to newly independent Mexico, serving from 1825 to 1829. Poinsett, a capable man, exceeded his authority and became embroiled in Mexican politics, particularly in a bitter rivalry between competing rites of Freemasonry. Mexico was badly divided and armed confrontation ensued. Poinsett was eventually recalled to Washington.

    The significance of that event was that it diminished the prestige of the United States in Mexican eyes while the British gained favor.

    (Poinsett returned home from Mexico with cuttings of a red flowering plant that became extremely popular and later bore his name: Poinsettia pulcherrima.)

  • The Panama Congress (1826). Several of the newly independent Latin American republics planned to convene in Panama. Adams was anxious to send delegates to promote trade with the region, but also hoped to dissuade the new republics from attempting to liberate Cuba and Puerto Rico (both still Spanish colonies).

    The Senate was reluctant. Jacksonian forces were averse to anything that would enhance the administration's public image, and some Southern senators objected to sending delegates who would serve on an equal basis with dark-skinned representatives from other nations. Because of this foot dragging, the American delegates did not arrive in Panama until after the Congress had adjourned. Britain's delegates were in session, which increased their nation's trade prospects and prestige.

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Biography of President John Quincy Adams
... John Adams II, Charles Francis Major Events Erie Canal Opened Panama Congress Walker's Appeal Tariff of Abominations Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Begun The Cabinet Secretary of State: Henry Clay Secretary of Treasury: Richard Rush ...

Secretary of State Henry Clay
... to have the United States participate in the Inter-American Congress at Panama in 1826; Again a Senator from Kentucky 1831-1842; Whig candidate for the Presidency in 1832 and in 1844; In retirement 1845-1848; Again a Senator from Kentucky ...

John Quincy AdamsNew Page 1
... 1849) "Life of John Quincy Adams," by Josiah Quincy (Boston, 1858);" Diary of John Quincy Adams," edited by Charles F. Adams, 12 vols., 8vo (Philadelphia, 1874-'7); and "John Quincy Adams," by John T. Morse, Jr. (Boston, 1882). The steel ...