Son of the elder Josiah Quincy, graduated from Harvard (1790), was a Federalist congressman (1805–12), opposing Jefferson and Madison, and attacked the admission of the state of Louisiana and the War of 1812. Continuing this attitude in state politics, he became mayor of Boston (1823–28), and distinguished himself as a practical reformer. Harvard elected him president (1829–45) to obtain a business-like administration, but his Unitarianism greatly offended conservative interests. To illustrate the liberal traditions of the university, he wrote The History of Harvard University (2 vols., 1840), which became a standard work. Although his relations with the students were marked by quarrels and misunderstandings, he established the law school and observatory, extended the library, obtained a good faculty, and increased the endowment and student body. After retiring he turned to writing, and his works include a history of the Boston Athenaeum (1851), a history of Boston (1852), and one of J.Q. Adams (1858), as well as a work on agriculture. He wrote a memoir of his father (1825).
From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.