John Adams by John Patrick Diggins & Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
The American Presidents Series: The 2nd President, 1797-1801 (American Presidents (Times))

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A revealing look at the true beginning of American politics

Until recently rescued by David McCullough, John Adams has always been overshadowed by Washington and Jefferson. Volatile, impulsive, irritable, and self-pitying, Adams seemed temperamentally unsuited for the presidency. Yet in many ways he was the perfect successor to Washington in terms of ability, experience, and popularity.

Possessed of a far-ranging intelligence, Adams took office amid the birth of the government and multiple crises. Besides maintaining neutrality and regaining peace, his administration created the Department of the Navy, put the army on a surer footing, and left a solvent treasury. One of his shrewdest acts was surely the appointment of moderate Federalist John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Though he was a Federalist, he sought to work outside the still-forming party system. In the end, this would be Adams's greatest failing and most useful lesson to later leaders.


About John Patrick Diggins & Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

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John Patrick Diggins is distinguished professor of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of numerous books, including On Hallowed Ground, The Proud Decades, The Lost Soul of American Politics, The Rise and Fall of the American Left, and Max Weber: Politics and the Spirit of Tragedy. He lives in New York City.
Published June 11, 2003 by Times Books. 200 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Children's Books. Non-fiction

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As a result, it is left with ``no political significance but considerable educational significance, no power to affect immediate events but considerable authority to shape the minds of the young.'' It is no accident that this discussion lacks the liveliness of Diggins's earlier ones, which rely h...

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Indeed, writes Diggins, when he defeated Adams in the 1800 presidential race, Jefferson even claimed that “he saved America from aristocracy and monarchy”—little realizing, the author adds, “that his utter dependence on party politics represented a defeat of his own ideals.” Not that Adams’s own ...

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Publishers Weekly

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The 1800 election was, in fact, a triumph for Adams and the ideas the Federalists espoused, says CUNY historian Diggins (On Hallowed Ground), as an opposition party came to power""without America shedding a single drop of blood."" Furthermore, Diggins asserts,""American political history begins w...

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