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John Quincy Adams and the Politics of Slavery : Selections from the Diary, Hardback Book


John Quincy Adams's remarkable diary is an unusually accessible window into the thinking of a president long before, during, and well after his own administration.

It is enormous in scope-examining all subjects that came to Adams's interest and stretching from the late 1780s to his death in 1848.

David Waldstreicher and Matthew Mason produce an edition of the diary that is not only of accessible length but also focused on one issue: the politics of slavery.

Adams'slong journey from nationalist diplomacy to culture war with the southern plantocracy is not well understood.

How did the man who in 1795 told a British cabinet officer not to speak to him of the Virginians, the Southern people, the democrats, whom he considered in no other light than as Americans,come to predict a grand struggle between slavery and freedom?

How could an expansionist who had left his party and lost his U.S.

Senate seat rather than attack the Jeffersonian slave power, later come to declare the Mexican War the apoplexy of the Constitution, a hijacking of the republic by slaveholders?

What changed? Entries in the diary touching on the politics of slavery increased over time and reflect national events as well as Adams' changes in attitude.

The diaryenables the reader to perceive and weigh the relative importance and interaction of ideology, politics, and personal ambition in one highly consequential life.

The editors provide a lucid introduction to the collection as a whole and illuminate the individual documents with brief and engaging comments, deftly placing Adams's public statements alongside his private reflections.

By juxtaposing Adams's personal reflections on slavery with what he said-and did not say-publicly on the issue, the editors offer a unique perspective on a topic historians of the early republic, and especially of Jacksonian democracy, have trouble integrating into theirstories: the complicated politics of slavery.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Diaries, letters & journals
  • ISBN: 9780199947959


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