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The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams presents the principal shorter writings in which Adams addresses the prospect of revolution and the form of government proper to the new United States. Though one of the principal framers of the American republic and the successor to Washington as president, John Adams receives remarkably little attention among many students of the early national period. This is especially true in the case of the periods before and after the Revolution, in which the intellectual rationale for independence and republican government was given the fullest expression. The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams illustrates that it was Adams, for example, who before the Revolution wrote some of the most important documents on the nature of the British Constitution and the meaning of rights, sovereignty, representation, and obligation. And it was Adams who, once the colonies had declared independence, wrote equally important works on possible forms of government in a quest to develop a science of politics for the construction of a constitution for the proposed republic.
The figure of John Adams looms large in American foreign relations of the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary years. James H. Hutson captures this elusive personality of this remarkable figure, highlighting the triumphs and the despairs that Adams experienced as he sought—at times, he felt, single-handedly—to establish the new Republic on a solid footing among the nations of the world. Benjamin Franklin, thirty years Adams's senior and already a world-respected figure, was his personal nemesis, seeming always to dog his steps in his diplomatic missions. The diplomacy of the American Revolution as exemplified by John Adams was not radically revolutionary or peculiarly American. Whereas the prevailing progressive interpretation of Revolutionary diplomacy sees it as repudiating the standard European theories and practices, Hutson finds that Adams adhered consistently to a policy that was in fact basically European and conservative. Adams assumed—as did his contemporaries—that power was aggressive and that it should be contained in a balance, so his actions while in diplomatic service were generally directed toward this goal. Adams's basic ideas survived his turbulent diplomatic missions with undiminished coherence. For him the value of the protective system of the balance of power—having been tested in the harsh theater of European diplomacy—was indisputable and could be applied to domestic political arrangements as well as to international relations.
John Ferling has nearly forty years of experience as a historian of early America. The author of acclaimed histories such as A Leap into the Dark and Almost a Miracle, he has appeared on many TV and film documentaries on this pivotal period of our history. In John Adams: A Life, Ferling offers a compelling portrait of one of the giants of the Revolutionary era. Drawing on extensive research, Ferling depicts a reluctant revolutionary, a leader who was deeply troubled by the warfare that he helped to make, and a fiercely independent statesman. The book brings to life an exciting time, an age in which Adams played an important political and intellectual role. Indeed, few were more instrumental in making American independence a reality. He performed yeoman's service in the Continental Congress during the revolution and was a key figure in negotiating the treaty that brought peace following the long War of Independence. He held the highest office in the land and as president he courageously chose to pursue a course that he thought best for the nation, though it was fraught with personal political dangers. Adams emerges here a man full of contradictions. He could be petty and jealous, but also meditative, insightful, and provocative. In private and with friends he could be engagingly witty. He was terribly self-centered, but in his relationship with his wife and children his shortcomings were tempered by a deep, abiding love. John Ferling's masterful John Adams: A Life is a singular biography of the man who succeeded George Washington in the presidency and shepherded the fragile new nation through the most dangerous of times.
This full-life biography includes analysis of Adams's education, political philosophy, religious attitudes, social values, and family relationships. While his extraordinary role in achieving American independence is closely analyzed, the post-independence period, including his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, is not neglected. The core theme is that Adams was unflinchingly committed to promoting and defending republican constitutions and ideals. He wanted the revolutionary generation to bequeath a land of liberty and equality to the nation's posterity.
Dear Reader: The Childhood of Famous Americans series, seventy years old in 2002, chronicles the early years of famous American men and women in an accessible manner. Each book is faithful in spirit to the values and experiences that influenced the person¹s development. History is fleshed out with fictionalized details, and conversations have been added to make the stories come alive to today¹s reader, but every reasonable effort has been made to make the stories consistent with the events, ethics, and character of their subjects. These books reaffirm the importance of our American heritage. We hope you learn to love the heroes and heroines who helped shape this great country. And by doing so, we hope you also develop a lasting love for the nation that gave them the opportunity to make their dreams come true. It will do the same for you. Happy Reading! The Editors
Setting the World Ablaze is the story of the American Revolution and of the three Founders who played crucial roles in winning the War of Independence and creating a new nation: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Braiding three strands into one rich narrative, John Ferling brings these American icons down from their pedestals to show them as men of flesh and blood, and in doing so gives us a new understanding of the passion and uncertainty of the struggle to form a new nation. A leading historian of the Revolutionary era, Ferling draws upon an unsurpassed command of the primary sources and a talent for swiftly moving narrative to give us intimate views of each of these men. He shows us both the overarching historical picture of the era and a gripping sense of how these men encountered the challenges that faced them. We see Washington, containing a profound anger at British injustice within an austere demeanor; Adams, far from home, struggling with severe illness and French duplicity in his crucial negotiations in Paris; and Jefferson, distracted and indecisive, confronting uncertainties about his future in politics. John Adams, in particular, emerges from the narrative as the most under-appreciated hero of the Revolution, while Jefferson is revealed as the most overrated, yet most eloquent, of the Founders. Setting the World Ablaze shows in dramatic detail how these conservative men--successful members of the colonial elite--were transformed into radical revolutionaries.
A prime mover and key architect of American independence, collaborator in the creation of America's first army—and the man who nominated George Washington as that army's commander—as well as founder of the U. S. Navy, John Adams negotiated the foreign finance that made the Revolution possible, then negotiated the treaties that ended it in absolute victory. When so many of his countrymen devoted themselves solely to tearing down British tyranny, Adams continually asked and endeavored to answer the question, Then what? He opposed the royal tyranny of kings, but he opposed no less the hyper-democratic tyranny of the mob. He honed and championed a two-chambered Congress, a strong chief executive, and an independent judiciary. As successor to George Washington, he continued to shape the presidency in Washington's image, seeking, as the first president had sought, to elevate the office above partisan politics. But he was no mere post-Washington caretaker. Controversially—and the controversy continues today—he acted to stem in America the tide of the French revolution, in which his one-time boon colleague and now archrival Jefferson saw the apotheosis of liberty, but in which Adams saw only anarchy and terror. Adams promoted the Alien and Sedition Acts, legislation intended to stave off destructive French and French-inspired radicalism but also potentially so repressive as to repeal, in effect, much of the American Revolution. Yet Adams was never apologetic about this. “I humbled the French Directory,” he declared late in life, “as much as all Europe has humbled Bonaparte. I purchased navy yards. . . . built frigates, manned a navy, and selected officers with great anxiety and care, who perfectly protected our commerce, and gained virgin victories against the French,” with whom a naval “Quasi War” had broken out. At home, President Adams “engaged in the most earnest, sedulous, and, I must own, expensive exertions to preserve peace with the Indians. . . . Not a hatchet was lifted in my time . . . .” On the diplomatic front, the second president, by his own account, “finished the demarcation of limits, and settled all controversies with Spain. I made the composition [settlement] with England, for all the old Virginia debts, and all the other American debts . . . .” In sum: I had complete and perfect success, and left my country at peace with all the world, upon terms consistent with the honor and interest of the United States, and with all our relations with other nations, and all our obligations by the law of nations or by treaties. . . . I left navy yards, fortifications, frigates, timber, naval stores, manufactories of cannon and arms, and a treasury full of five millions of dollars. This was all done step by step, against perpetual oppositions, clamors and reproaches, such as no other President ever had to encounter, and with a more feeble, divided, and incapable support than has ever fallen to the lot of any administration before or since. No historian would disagree with this self-assessment, the judgment of a man hard on rivals and friends alike, and hardest of all on himself, a man even his bitterest enemies conceded was above all brutally honest and honorable. Yet no United States currency has ever borne the likeness of John Adams—and, except for the forthcoming series of presidential quarters, on which will be stamped portraits of every American president—no coin has ever featured his profile. His birthday has never been celebrated as a national holiday. Among the multitudes of public schools named for presidents and founding fathers, one is hard pressed to find very many John Adams elementary or high schools. Unlike Washington and Jefferson, or the non-presidential founding father Franklin and the latter-day savior of the Union, Lincoln, John Adams has never come to occupy an iconic niche in the American pantheon. Living to his ninety-first year, Adams himself understood that “Mausoleums, statues, monuments will never be erected to me.” He believed that Americans would mythologize the Revolution, making of it “one continued lie from one end to the other. The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklin's electrical rod smote the earth and out sprung General Washington. That Franklin electrified him with his rod—and thence forward these two conducted all the policy, negotiations, legislatures and war. These . . . lines contain the whole fable, plot, and catastrophe.” From this American mythology, Adams understood he would be excluded. And so he has been. Yet it is within this exclusion that we find the very reasons for the enduring importance of John Adams. He is not, nor ever was, nor ever could be an icon, an image on a dollar bill. He was—and remains an example of—a real-world, flesh-and-blood political leader. Those whom we regard as symbols, figures in the great American mythology, are those who heralded, provoked, and brought about revolutionary change. Adams likewise engaged revolution, yet it was not so much to bring change as to restore what he regarded as the age-old rights and liberties guaranteed by the English “constitution” and implied in the natural state of humankind. Adams was a steward of justice and liberty. His leadership was less about change than about just and effective sustainability, and it is for this reason that his experience offers to those who lead and manage modern enterprises so rich, relevant, and immediately useful lessons. For the more a business changes and must respond to change—the more revolutionary a business must become—the more and more effectively its leaders must answer the question always uppermost in the mind of John Adams, Then what? Drawing on the latest Adams scholarship as well as Adams's own autobiographical writings, including his diary and letters, Revolutionary Management: John Adams on Leadership will, in the spirit and style of my bestsellers Patton on Leadership and Elizabeth I, CEO, present 128 “lessons” for today's leaders of enterprise.
ONE OF WALL STREET JOURNAL'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—A revelatory biography from a Pulitzer Prize-winner about the most essential Founding Father— the one who stood behind the change in thinking that produced the American Revolution. "A glorious book that is as entertaining as it is vitally important.” —Ron Chernow "A beautifully crafted, invaluable biography…Schiff ingeniously connects the past to our present and future, underscoring the lessons of Adams while reclaiming our nation’s self-evident truths at a moment when we seemed to have forgotten them." —Oprah Daily Thomas Jefferson asserted that if there was any leader of the Revolution, “Samuel Adams was the man.” With high-minded ideals and bare-knuckle tactics, Adams led what could be called the greatest campaign of civil resistance in American history. Stacy Schiff returns Adams to his seat of glory, introducing us to the shrewd and eloquent man who supplied the moral backbone of the American Revolution. A singular figure at a singular moment, Adams amplified the Boston Massacre. He helped to mastermind the Boston Tea Party. He employed every tool available to rally a town, a colony, and eventually a band of colonies behind him, creating the cause that created a country. For his efforts he became the most wanted man in America: When Paul Revere rode to Lexington in 1775, it was to warn Samuel Adams that he was about to be arrested for treason. In The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, Schiff brings her masterful skills to Adams’s improbable life, illuminating his transformation from aimless son of a well-off family to tireless, beguiling radical who mobilized the colonies. Arresting, original, and deliriously dramatic, this is a long-overdue chapter in the history of our nation.