J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Henrikson on J. Q. Adams and the Ghent Treaty, Quincy, 30 Apr.

John Quincy Adams entered the American diplomatic service in 1781 at the age of fourteen. He was the French-speaking secretary of Francis Dana, the U.S. of A.’s first designated minister to Russia.

That mission wasn’t a success. Catherine the Great, ever canny, avoided meeting Dana to accept his credentials, thus keeping her empire out of western Europe’s argument over whether the British colonies should be independent. In 1783, Dana and Adams headed back west.

Adams went on to other posts, including American minister to Holland, Portugal, Prussia, Russia (for reals this time), and Great Britain. Eventually he was Secretary of State under James Monroe. But his most important diplomatic service to America was as chief negotiator of the treaty to end the War of 1812.

The keen mind for details that served Adams well as a politician, and the total stubbornness that usually didn’t, allowed him and his colleagues to wear down the British negotiators. The U.S. hadn’t been doing well in the war, but its diplomats pulled out an advantageous peace.

Prof. Alan Henrikson of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University will deliver an illustrated lecture on “John Quincy Adams in Ghent: The Diplomacy of the War of 1812” at the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy on Monday, 30 April. In addition to his expertise as the school’s Director of Diplomatic Studies, Henrickson photographed many of the sites in Belgium where Adams and the other delegates worked.

This lecture, which starts at 7:00 P.M, is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the park site.

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