February 9, 1825: For the first, and so far only time, the House of Representatives chose the President of the United States when it elected John Quincy Adams. During Adams’s Presidency, he responded to a letter from Major Mordecai Manuel Noah by saying “I believe in the rebuilding of Judea as an independent nation.”
Major Noah was the most influential Jew in the United States in the early 19th Century. He was an editor, journalist, playwright, politician, lawyer, court of appeals judge, New York Port surveyor, a major in the New York military and, foremost, an ardent utopian Zionist.
Noah was born July 19, 1785, in Philadelphia of Portuguese Jewish ancestry. His father, Manuel M. Noah, served with General Marion in the Revolutionary War and contributed a considerable sum of money to the cause.
John Quincy Adams was the son of President John Adams and Abigail Adams. As a diplomat, Adams played an important role in negotiating key treaties, most notably the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. As Secretary of State, he negotiated with Britain over the United States’ northern border with Canada, negotiated with Spain the annexation of Florida, and drafted the Monroe Doctrine. Historians agree he was one of the greatest diplomats and secretaries of state in American history.
As president he sought to modernize the American economy and promote education. Adams enacted a part of his agenda and paid off much of the national debt. However he was stymied time and again by a Congress controlled by his enemies, and his lack of patronage networks helped politicians eager to undercut him. He lost his 1828 bid for re-election to Andrew Jackson.
Pictured today is a “cinderella” (a stamp not printed for postal use) with a very commanding portait of President John Q. Adams.