John Adams's Republic: The One, the Few, and the Many

John Adams's Republic: The One, the Few, and the Many

by Richard Alan Ryerson


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John Adams's Republic: The One, the Few, and the Many by Richard Alan Ryerson

Scholars have examined John Adams’s writings and beliefs for generations, but no one has brought such impressive credentials to the task as Richard Alan Ryerson in John Adams’s Republic. The editor-in-chief of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Adams Papers project for nearly two decades, Ryerson offers readers of this magisterial book a fresh, firmly grounded account of Adams’s political thought and its development.

Of all the founding fathers, Ryerson argues, John Adams may have worried the most about the problem of social jealousy and political conflict in the new republic. Ryerson explains how these concerns, coupled with Adams’s concept of executive authority and his fear of aristocracy, deeply influenced his political mindset. He weaves together a close analysis of Adams’s public writings, a comprehensive chronological narrative beginning in the 1760s, and an exploration of the second president’s private diary, manuscript autobiography, and personal and family letters, revealing Adams’s most intimate political thoughts across six decades.

How, Adams asked, could a self-governing country counter the natural power and influence of wealthy elites and their friends in government? Ryerson argues that he came to believe a strong executive could hold at bay the aristocratic forces that posed the most serious dangers to a republican society. The first study ever published to closely examine all of Adams’s political writings, from his youth to his long retirement, John Adams’s Republic should appeal to everyone who seeks to know more about America’s first major political theorist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421419220
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 07/26/2016
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 788,327
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Richard Alan Ryerson, the former academic director and historian of the David Library of the American Revolution, was the editor-in-chief of the Adams Papers from 1983 to 2001.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: The Evolution of a Distinctive Republican Vision 1

Part 1 Adams Moves to the Center

I A Provincial Reverence for the British Constitution, 1735-1767 25

II The Discovery of the Republic, 1768-1772 65

III Realm versus Dominion, 1773-1774 97

IV From Imperial Dominion to Autonomous Republic, 1774-1775 128

V Building a Republican Orthodoxy, 1775-1776 158

Part 2 Adams on His Own

VI Defending Executive Authority, 1775-1780 193

VII An Education in American Aristocracy, 1775-1783 232

VIII Redefining the Republican Tradition, 1784-1787 270

IX John Adams's Republic in Republican America, 1787-1800 312

X A Retrospective Retirement, 1801-1826 355

Conclusion: Memory and Desire in America's Republican Revolution 399

Notes 433

An Essay on Sources 521

A Chronology of John Adams's Political Study and Writings 525

Index 529

What People are Saying About This

Barbara B. Oberg

No scholar is more qualified to capture the 'whole' Adams. Richard Ryerson has mastered the biographical details of Adams's public and private life, as well as the trajectory of his thought. More than a study of one man, this book is an insightful narrative of the founding of the nation.

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