On February 21, 1848, the House of Representatives debated whether to refer a resolution to the Committee on Military Affairs. John Quincy Adams voted ‘nay.’ A few moments later, Adams “was observed to be sinking from his seat in what appeared to be the agonies of death.” As the Congressional Globe put it, he “was immediately borne to the Rotund[a] for the benefit of purer air, and afterwards to the Speaker’s room, assiduously attended by many members of the House.”
Death came two days later. As you can see, the House voted to put the question; Adams died a loser. But his devastated colleagues offered long and poignant eulogies for the former president. Before adjourning on February 25, they approved these resolutions unanimously:
—that a House committee be appointed to oversee funeral preparations
—that the officers and members of the House wear a badge of mourning and attend Adams’ funeral in the House chamber
—that the House adjourn until Saturday, the day of Adams’ funeral
—that Adams’ seat remain unoccupied for thirty days, and that it, “together with the Hall, remain clothed with the symbol of mourning during that time”
—that Speaker Robert Winthrop appoint one House member from each state and territory to serve as pallbearers for Adams’ temporary internment at Congressional Cemetery (Abraham Lincoln was chosen)
—that the Clerk of the House communicate these proceedings to Adams’ family.
These resolutions deeply moved the widowed Louisa Catherine Adams. She conveyed her appreciation in a letter to Speaker Winthrop:
“The resolutions in honor of my dear, deceased husband, passed by the illustrious assembly over which you preside, and of which he, at the moment of his death, was a member, have been duly communicated to me.
Penetrated with grief at this distressing event of my life; mourning the loss of one who has been at once my example and my support through the trials of half a century, permit me nevertheless to express through you my deepest gratitude for the signal manner in which the public regard has been voluntarily manifested by your honorable body, and the consolation derived to me and mine from the reflection that the unwearied efforts of an old public servant have not even in this world proved without their reward in the generous appreciation of them by his country.”
I visited Quincy, MA in August 2010. Here’s a picture of United First Parish Church, where John Adams, Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Louisa Catherine Adams are buried: