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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 presents the principal shorter writings in which Adams addresses the prospect of revolution and the form of government proper to the new United States. This collection illustrates that it was Adams 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.
.".. includes the complete newspaper exchange between Novanglus (Adams) and Massachusettensis (loyalist Daniel Leonard), as well as extensive diary excerpts and characteristically frank personal letters"--Jacket.
In reexamining John Adams's political thought, Thompson reconstructs the contours and influences of Adams's mental universe, the ideas he challenged, the problems he considered central to constitution-making, and methods of his reasoning.
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.
In addition to being an uncompromising defender of liberty, esteemed diplomat, and successor to George Washington, John Adams was a passionate and prolific writer. Adams biographer John Patrick Diggins gathers an impressive variety of his works in this compact, original volume, including parts of his diary and autobiography, and selections from his rich correspondence with this wife, Abigail, Thomas Jefferson, and others. The Portable John Adams also features his most important political works: “A Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law,” “Thoughts on Government,” “A Defense of Constitutions,” “Novanglus,” and “Discources in Davila.” There is no finer introduction to the protean genius of this seminal American philosopher. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Adams is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses. John frequently sought the advice of Abigail on many matters, and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. The letters serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolutionary War home front.