Josiah Quincy

Josiah Quincy

[kwin-zee, -see for 1, 2; kwin-see for 3, 4]
Quincy, Josiah, 1744-75, political leader in the American Revolution, b. Boston. An outstanding lawyer, he wrote a series of anonymous articles for the Boston Gazette in which he opposed the Stamp Act and other British colonial policies. Nevertheless, Quincy, along with John Adams, defended the British soldiers in the trial after the Boston Massacre. In 1773 he went to South Carolina for his health and on his journey established connections with other colonial leaders. His Observations on the Act of Parliament Commonly Called the Boston Port Bill (1774) was an important political tract. He was sent (1774) as an agent to argue the colonial cause in England and died on the way home. His son, also named Josiah Quincy, wrote a memoir of him (1825, 2d ed. 1874).

See study by R. A. McCaughey (1974).

Quincy, Josiah, 1772-1864, American political leader and college president, b. Braintree, Mass.; son of Josiah Quincy (1744-75). After studying law, Quincy became interested in politics and entered (1804) the state senate as a Federalist. He subsequently proceeded (1805-13) to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became minority leader. Speaking against admission of Louisiana as a state, he declared, in an extreme states' rights view, that passage of the bill without the specific consent of the original 13 states would be cause for dissolution of the Union. An opponent of the Embargo and Nonintercourse Acts prior to the War of 1812, he nevertheless advocated preparedness for political reasons, although he later violently opposed the war. On leaving Congress he returned to Boston, where he reentered (1813) the state senate and continued to oppose the war. The Federalists dropped him for insurgency in 1820 but Quincy was elected (1821) to the Massachusetts house of representatives, where he became speaker; he resigned to become a municipal court judge. In 1823 he was elected mayor of Boston and energetically labored for reforms. In 1829 he became president of Harvard, serving until 1845. While there he gave impetus to the law school, and wrote The History of Harvard University (1840) to silence traditionalist critics. His son, Edmund Quincy, edited his Speeches Delivered in the Congress of the United States (1874) and also wrote a biography (1867; 6th ed. 1874).

See his memoirs (1825, repr. 1971).

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