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For the 250th anniversary of Adams’s birth, Library of America and historian David Waldstreicher have prepared a two-volume reader’s edition of his monumental diary, presenting selections based for the first time on the original manuscripts and restoring personal and revealing passages suppressed in earlier editions. As this second volume opens Adams, as secretary of state, For the 250th anniversary of Adams’s birth, Library of America and historian David Waldstreicher have prepared a two-volume reader’s edition of his monumental diary, presenting selections based for the first time on the original manuscripts and restoring personal and revealing passages suppressed in earlier editions. As this second volume opens Adams, as secretary of state, is the leading figure in James Monroe’s cabinet, a fractious group whose members jockey to be the next president. This political intrigue, described with gripping immediacy in the diary, culminates in Adams’s election to the presidency by the House of Representatives after a deadlocked four-way contest. Even as Adams takes the oath of office, rivals Henry Clay, his secretary of state, John C. Calhoun, his vice president, and an embittered Andrew Jackson eye the next election in 1828. The diary records Adams’s frustration as his far-sighted agenda for national unification and internal improvement is threatened by this internecine political factionalism, as well as his revulsion at the advent of the “unprincipled absurdities” of Jacksonian democracy: “My hopes of the long continuance of this Union are extinct — The people must go the way of all the world.” After a short-lived post-presidential retirement, during which he and his wife Louisa Catherine endure the apparent suicide of their eldest son, Adams returns to public service as a congressman from Massachusetts, without question the most extraordinary second act in American political history. In his final seventeen years, Adams leads efforts to resist the extension of slavery and to end the notorious “gag rule” that stifles debate on the issue in Congress, earning the sobriquet Old Man Eloquent. In 1841, he further burnishes his antislavery reputation by successfully defending the African mutineers of the slave ship Amistad before the Supreme Court, a dramatic manifestation of his life-long commitment to liberty and the rule of law. The edition concludes with Adams’s final entry, recorded on February 20, 1848, the day before he suffered a fatal stroke at his congressional desk. Throughout, the diary brims with brilliant, sometimes acerbic portraits of an astonishing range of American statesmen, from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to Stephen A. Douglas and Andrew Johnson.


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For the 250th anniversary of Adams’s birth, Library of America and historian David Waldstreicher have prepared a two-volume reader’s edition of his monumental diary, presenting selections based for the first time on the original manuscripts and restoring personal and revealing passages suppressed in earlier editions. As this second volume opens Adams, as secretary of state, For the 250th anniversary of Adams’s birth, Library of America and historian David Waldstreicher have prepared a two-volume reader’s edition of his monumental diary, presenting selections based for the first time on the original manuscripts and restoring personal and revealing passages suppressed in earlier editions. As this second volume opens Adams, as secretary of state, is the leading figure in James Monroe’s cabinet, a fractious group whose members jockey to be the next president. This political intrigue, described with gripping immediacy in the diary, culminates in Adams’s election to the presidency by the House of Representatives after a deadlocked four-way contest. Even as Adams takes the oath of office, rivals Henry Clay, his secretary of state, John C. Calhoun, his vice president, and an embittered Andrew Jackson eye the next election in 1828. The diary records Adams’s frustration as his far-sighted agenda for national unification and internal improvement is threatened by this internecine political factionalism, as well as his revulsion at the advent of the “unprincipled absurdities” of Jacksonian democracy: “My hopes of the long continuance of this Union are extinct — The people must go the way of all the world.” After a short-lived post-presidential retirement, during which he and his wife Louisa Catherine endure the apparent suicide of their eldest son, Adams returns to public service as a congressman from Massachusetts, without question the most extraordinary second act in American political history. In his final seventeen years, Adams leads efforts to resist the extension of slavery and to end the notorious “gag rule” that stifles debate on the issue in Congress, earning the sobriquet Old Man Eloquent. In 1841, he further burnishes his antislavery reputation by successfully defending the African mutineers of the slave ship Amistad before the Supreme Court, a dramatic manifestation of his life-long commitment to liberty and the rule of law. The edition concludes with Adams’s final entry, recorded on February 20, 1848, the day before he suffered a fatal stroke at his congressional desk. Throughout, the diary brims with brilliant, sometimes acerbic portraits of an astonishing range of American statesmen, from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to Stephen A. Douglas and Andrew Johnson.

32 review for Diaries 1821-1848: The Monroe Doctrine / Henry Clay and the Election of 1824 / Presidency / Father’s Death and Son’s Suicide / The Age of Jackson / House of Representatives / Amistad Case / Triumph over the Gag Rule

  1. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    John Quincy Adams In The Library Of America: 1821 -- 1848 John Quincy Adams (1767 -- 1848) served as the sixth president of the United States and combined a life of public service with study and intellectual activity. Beginning from adolescence and continuing until his death, Adams kept a detailed diary which offers invaluable insight into his public and private life and into the events of his day. The Library of America has published a two-volume set of excerpts from Adams' massive diary selecte John Quincy Adams In The Library Of America: 1821 -- 1848 John Quincy Adams (1767 -- 1848) served as the sixth president of the United States and combined a life of public service with study and intellectual activity. Beginning from adolescence and continuing until his death, Adams kept a detailed diary which offers invaluable insight into his public and private life and into the events of his day. The Library of America has published a two-volume set of excerpts from Adams' massive diary selected and edited by David Waldstreicher, Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. The first volume includes excerpts from the diary beginning with Adams' earliest entries in 1779 and concludes in 1821, with the end of the first presidential term of James Madison, with Adams serving as Secretary of State. The second volume, which I am reviewing here, begins in 1821, with Madison's inauguration for his second term. It includes in 1848, with Adams' final diary entry written three days before his death. In a diary entry of October 1846 (p.622),Adams reflects on the scope and breadth of his diary and realizes its unusual, probably unique, character in documenting the life of a statesman. The diary, and this volume, covers a momentous era and shows many changes in Adams' life and era. Adams reflects on the political events in which he was deeply involved, including his service as Secretary of State, President, and Congressman. He also displays a wide-ranging love for the life of the mind, including religion, philosophy, literature, languages, and science. The diary also includes personal details of Adams' life, including his marriage to Louisa Johnson, the tragic deaths of two of the couple's sons, and the deaths of Adams' celebrated parents, John and Abigail Adams. John Quincy Adams writes fully and well. It is a rare privilege to get to hear his voice and his thoughts. Earlier editions of Adams' diaries have tended to focus on the political entries. The new LOA edition is valuable because in allows the reader to see Adams' personal life as well. I find Adams' frequent reflections on religion and philosophy at least as interesting, and probably more so, that his reflections on the events of his day. This book is arranged in seven chapters, following the numbering of the companion LOA volume. Chapter VIII covers Adams' service as Secretary of State during Monroe's second term (1821 -- 1825) during which Adams played a large role in the development of the Monroe Doctrine. The entries for this period also show the political machinations of the day which ultimately led to Adams' election as president, even though he received a minority of the votes and allegations of a "corrupt bargain" with Henry Clay which dogged both Clay and Adams for the remainder of their lives. Adams' reflections show well that the messiness of the American political process is hardly a new phenomenon and thus offers the reader a broad, historical perspective into current events. In an entry of November 1822, (p.33) Adams reflects on his own historical reading on the history of Great Britain and writes: "The public history of all Countries, and all ages, is but a sort of mask richly coloured -- The interior working of the machinery must be foul. There is as much mining and countermining for power, as many fluctuations of friendship and enmity, as many attractions and repulsions, bargains and oppositions ... as might be told of our own times. ... And shall not I too, have a tale to tell?" Chapter IX of this book covers Adams' unfortunate presidency, dogged by the controversy over his election, by his status as a minority president, and by his own inflexibility. Adams sought early to united the country through a strong Federal government for all the people and through a system of public improvements, including a national university. His administration never got off the ground. Chapter X of the book covers Adams brief retirement from public life, his growing interest in botany, and tragedies in his personal life. The final three chapters of the book cover Adam's long 17-years of service (1831 -- 1848) in the U.S. House of Representatives as a member from Massachusetts. Adams' service in the House is itself a high accomplishment following his early long career as diplomat, Secretary of State, and President. The diary entries from these years tend to be more weighted towards political activity than the earlier entries. The selections describe meticulously Adams' activities in the House and the activities of his opponents. Many of the entries involve the "gag" rule. Adams became notorious for his attempts to present petitions from constituents and others calling for the elimination of slavery. The House, with the Southern members and their Northern supporters, enacted a "gag" rule forbidding the receipt of petitions relating to slavery. Adams persisted over his career and was twice nearly censured. Finally, in Adams' last term in Congress, the gag rule was abolished. Adams' efforts on the gag rule get much attention in the diaries. The entries from Adams' Congressional years also show his opposition to the acquisition of Texas and to the War with Mexico. They show as well his dogged persistence in the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution, with a bequest received from a British subject. In the latter part of his service in Congress, Adams participated in the defense of slaves on a Spanish slave ship in a case known as the "Amistad", the subject of a movie a few years ago. The diary shows Adams' work and reflections on his participation in the case. Adams attempted to distance himself from the Abolitionists, but he was a strong opponent of slavery. He was pessimistic about both the immediate and the ultimate fate of the Union based upon the divisions in our country resulting from slavery. These issues are still with us. In Adam's final diary entry of February 1848, (p. 626) he wrote a little poem you a young woman who had written to him: "Fair Lady, thou of human life Hast yet but little seen. Thy days of sorrow and of strife Are few and far between" Adam's diary is a work of literature in its own right. The perseverance required in reading through the two LOA volumes will be well rewarded. The volume includes a chronology of Adam's life together with explanatory notes to contextualize the diary entries and to help the reader. This volume and its companion volume make an outstanding resource for readers interested in Adams and in American history. The LOA kindly sent me a review copy of the two-volume box set of Adams' diaries. Robin Friedman

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Leeper

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  6. 5 out of 5

    Devorah

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    Ann Tesar

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

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    Ed Grimmer

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert Engle

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nissa

  13. 4 out of 5

    Galen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ross

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    Stillman

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elijah Deremer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Krishaan Khubchand

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Zackey

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Judith

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vern

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ardem

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gerald Warren

  24. 4 out of 5

    Walter

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ray

  27. 5 out of 5

    John Donovan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jyothis James

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Finley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Azfar

  31. 5 out of 5

    Brion

  32. 5 out of 5

    Sam

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