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John Adams's Republic

The One, the Few, and the Many

Richard Alan Ryerson

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This trailblazing study explores Adams’s political thought across his entire career in law and public service.

Winner of the Sally and Morris Lasky Prize of The Center for Political History Lebanon Velley College

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…

This trailblazing study explores Adams’s political thought across his entire career in law and public service.

Winner of the Sally and Morris Lasky Prize of The Center for Political History Lebanon Velley College

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.

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John Adams's Republic

Richard Alan Ryerson

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Reviews

Reviews

This is a serious, detailed, and convincing account with few unexplored avenues... Recommended. All academic levels/libraries.

... very excellent and elegantly written...

Ryerson’s book suggests that acquainting ourselves with the intellectual journey of John Adams enables us to appreciate a neglected jewel of our national inheritance. If we have inherited a liberal tradition, we have also inherited an anti-oligarchic one.

... polished...

Ryerson mines the great body of Adams's writings... with thoroughness and scholarly empathy. The comprehensiveness and rigor of Ryerson's analysis set new standards for how we approach the constitutional and political theorists of the era of the American Revolution.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
7
x
10
Pages
576
ISBN
9781421419220
Illustration Description
1 b&w illus
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part One. Adams Moves to the Center
1. A Provincial Reverence for the British Constitution, 1735–1767
2. The Discovery of the Republic, 1768–1772
3. Realm versus

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part One. Adams Moves to the Center
1. A Provincial Reverence for the British Constitution, 1735–1767
2. The Discovery of the Republic, 1768–1772
3. Realm versus Dominion, 1773–1774
4. From Imperial Dominion to Autonomous Republic, 1774–1775
5. Building a Republican Orthodoxy, 1775–1776
Part Two. Adams on His Own
6. Defending Executive Authority, 1775–1780
7. An Education in American Aristocracy, 1775–1783
8. Redefining the Republican Tradition, 1784–1787
9. John Adams's Republic in Republican America, 1787–1800
10. A Retrospective Retirement, 1801–1826
Conclusion
Republican Revolution
Notes
An Essay on Sources
A Chronology of John Adams's Political Study and Writings
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Richard Alan Ryerson, Ph.D.

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.