Yes, you heard me right! But first, let’s start at the beginning.
John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts in 1767. He was the eldest son of John and Abigail Adams, who were both very important figures in the early United States. His father was a member of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, served as a diplomat in Europe, and became the 2nd American President. As a result, young John Quincy grew up among numerous movers and shakers including some in European countries. He was very intelligent, learning multiple languages and was an avid reader. Apparently, he had hoped to pursue a career in writing; though, his future lay in politics.
John Quincy Adams had a long career as a civil servant and politician. He served as a diplomat overseas, was a member of the United States Senate, became Secretary of State, and was the 6th President of the United States after which he had a long career as a member of the House of Representatives. As a matter of fact, he is the only person to serve in the House after being President.
In many ways, he was ahead of his time. He despised the institution of slavery and was more sympathetic to the rights of Native Americans than many of his contemporaries. As much as he hated slavery and fought against it, John Quincy Adams predicted that the only way the terrible institution would come to an end would be if the Southern states ended it voluntarily or if there was a civil war. He also predicted that if there was a civil war, the president of the time would use war powers to end slavery. This is quite close to what actually happened since Abraham Lincoln used the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in the Confederate states.
In 1797 London, Adams married Louisa Johnson, the daughter of the US consul to Britain. They had 3 sons and 1 daughter together. Tragically, two died as young men after battles with alcoholism. One possibly from suicide. John Quincy likely suffered from depression and had a serious disposition much of the time. In politics, he became well known for his oratory, giving powerful impassioned speeches. In fact, when his end finally came in 1848, he was giving a fiery speech in Congress when he collapsed from a stroke. He died two days later in the US Capitol Building.
Obviously, John Quincy Adams spent many years living in Washington DC. He had a habit of getting up early in the predawn hours to walk around the city getting exercise when it was quiet and other people were still asleep. If the weather was good, he was known to swim in the Potomac River. In those days, when men swam in the river, they would typically remove their clothes and take a dip. Although in 1821 when the British Ambassador George Canning spotted then Secretary of State Adams in the water, he wasn’t entirely naked. Canning later wrote, “The Secretary of State was seen one morning at an early hour floating down the Potomac, with a black cap on his head and a pair of green goggles on his eyes.”
So yes, it does look like John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, would remove his clothes and skinny dip in the Potomac River! Not something you’d catch any modern president doing!
So when you have a few minutes, perhaps learn about and remember the skinny dipping President of the United States, John Quincy Adams.