John Quincy Adams (2012).
The year 1794 was one of the more pivotal years in American History - 1794 was the year of the Whiskey Rebellion, the Battle at Fallen Timbers, when Eli Whitney patented his cotton gin, and the year that President George Washington appointed John Quincy Adams as a Resident Minister in Holland. With that appointment, the most illustrious and significant career in foreign affairs in early American History began. In effect, JQA became the main diplomatic intelligence-gatherer in Europe for Presidents Washington and Adams, and in that role, he helped America avoid war with France and Great Britain.
John Quincy Adams needed to finish his university studies in America at Harvard, mostly so he could make connections in order to have a political future in America. After his initial difficulties in being formally admitted (Harvard's President was not a fan of his father), he became mostly bored in his studies - European universities were far more erudite. JQA was on "cruise-control" in his time at Harvard, graduating second in his class. JQA faced the same problem that many university graduates experience today: he needed to find employment.
Washington's new SecState, Timothy Pickering, sent JQA to Great Britain to help finalize the negotiations of the Jay Treaty. JQA had the honor of meeting face-to-face with King George III in 1796, which finalized the Jay Treaty from the British point of view. That same year, Washington promoted JQA to be the American Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal; it was a huge increase in salary, so JQA finally married Louisa Catherine Johnson. But JQA would never reach Portugal (his personal belongings did, however); the new President, John Adams, decided to send his son to Prussia instead. While it was true that Prussia was a more significant posting, JQA had his heart set on Portugal (in part, due to the climate). JQA's confirmation to Prussia was on hold in the Senate, however; charges of nepotism spread through the chamber. After three postponements, the Senate finally confirmed JQA as the U.S. Minister to Prussia
Stifling the "XYZ Affair" was one thing, but dealing with the cries for war against France was another. Even at the national level, the "Honor Culture" demanded satisfaction for the French slight on America's honor from the "XYZ Affair." The pressure on President John Adams to go to war with France was immense; Abigail Adams tried to give Americans an outlet for their rage by starting a fad that spread across the nation: she wore a black feather in her hat which signified opposition to the Tri-Colors (France's flag). In America's first undeclared war, American and French ships attacked each other on the Atlantic in the late-1790s.
President John Adams lost his bid for re-election in 1800 against Thomas Jefferson; Adams would have easily won if not for Hamilton's (a Federalist) personal attacks and Timothy Pickering's (another Federalist!) political attacks. Instead, Jefferson had 73 Electoral Votes, while Adams had 65 - even more frustrating for Adams was knowledge that if the news of France's reconciliation with the U.S. had reached America a few weeks earlier, he would have been re-elected - Adams was right to avoid a declared war with France. Before he left office, President John Adams recalled JQA from Berlin, saving him the embarrassment of being ordered home by President Jefferson. For JQA, it was a shock-to-the-system that he was back home in Boston as a private citizen after over half-a-decade as a foreign minister. He was bitten by the political bug, however, and it wouldn't be long until JQA found his way back not only into national politics, but also back to the world of European diplomacy, in the most coveted and prestigious of all European postings, American Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain.