John Quincy Adams

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 76.52 x 63.5 cm (30 1/8 x 25 in). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on panel; 68 × 55.9 cm (26.77 × 22.01 in) The White House Collection, Washington, DC.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas; 76.4 × 63.5 cm (30.08 × 25 in). The White House Collection, Washington, DC.

by Thomas Sully (1783—1872)

Watercolor, black chalk, and graphite on off-white laid paper; 10 3/8 x 6 1/2 in.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas; 241.3 x 151.8 cm (95 x 59 3/4 in). Harvard University Portrait Collection, Cambridge, MA.

Copy of photo by Philip Haas

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site, this image is a copy of a lost daguerreotype of Adams taken by Philip Haas in 1843.

by Studio of Mathew Brady (1822—96)


by Edward Dalton Marchant (1806—87)


by George Peter Alexander Healy (1813—94)

Oil on canvas; Height: 1,574.8 mm (62 in). Width: 1,193.8 mm (47 in). The White House Collection, Washington, DC.

As students of Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau are always reminding us, the age of reason was really an age of sentiment. In this too, Washington was a man of his age. When he established the first general decoration in the American Army, the Purple Heart, it was not (as it became in the twentieth century) an award available to all soldiers wounded in the line of duty. Only privates and noncomissioned officers could win the original Badge of Military Merit, a cloth-shaped heart sewn over the man’s actual heart, which allowed him to pass all guards and sentinels which officers are permitted to do. The symbol was not of heart’s blood shed, but of virtue proceeding from the heart. Limiting the award to nonofficers was meant to indicate that great virtue can be shown regardless of rank — that in Washington’s words, the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all.

Garry Wills
Cincinnatus: George Washington & the Enlightenment (1984)