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The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 (Pivotal Moments in American History) Paperback – July 19, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0199754243 ISBN-10: 0199754241 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199754241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199754243
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.9 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"'The Birth of Modern Politics'" is short, smart, well-written and well-researched. Lynn Hudson Parsons is clearly a fair- minded and scrupulous historian. So it feels a bit churlish to point out that his fine new book is not about the birth of modern politics."--Washington Post

"The author pulls no punches as he tells the real story of the fighting man's world that was the 1820s, an unheralded decade in textbooks that well deserves the full treatment it gets here... When you can read crisply written history from a trained historian with something profound on his mind, why go with popularizers and pundits? The Birth of Modern Politics is both the anatomy of a campaign and a clever dissection of partisanship. It engages with competing interpretations and ably recovers the spirit of a usable past."--Baton Rouge Advocate

"Sharply focused introduction to an election that fundamentally changed the landscape of American politics."--Kirkus Reviews

"Engaging and accessible account... This worthy addition to the excellent Pivotal Moments in American History series will appeal to general readers in public libraries and to historians who might want to consider it for courses."--ForeWord magazine

"The election of 1828 modernized American politics. A two-party mass democracy replaced the patrician republic created by the Founders. In 1828, the Jacksonians skillfully burnished their candidate's image, while the followers of Adams emphasized their program for nationwide economic development. Lynn Hudson Parsons respects Adams, but Jackson engages his sympathies."--Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

"The Birth of Modern Politics will become the indispensable work on the formation of the antebellum political system. Scholars of early America have long awaited a modern study of the election of 1828, and this volume will delight and inform specialists and general readers alike. Each page contains deft assessments, crisp writing, and provocative analysis. Together with John Quincy Adams, this elegantly crafted study establishes Parsons as the leading authority on the 1820s."--Douglas R. Egerton, author of Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America

"Lynn Parsons' Birth of Modern Politics is much more than a marvelously entertaining and balanced account of the modernity of the 1828 election between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. In brilliantly contrasting the divergent paths the two political leaders took to that contest, he offers valuable insights into major issues in United States political history from the Revolution to the 1830s. He deftly highlights both change and continuity. In showing that 1828 was a 'tectonic shift' in the bedrock that underlay the nation's social, economic, and political landscape, Parsons also points in timely fashion--highlighted by recent presidential outcomes and candidates--to the birth of the long tradition of anti-intellectualism in American politics."--Ron Formisano, Professor of History, University of Kentucky

"...[A] valuable resource...few other accounts present the story as thoughtfully." --Journal of Southern History

"A lively, deeply-informed and fast paced look at a presidential election that changed America and American politics." -- Karl Rove

About the Author

Lynn Hudson Parsons is Professor of History Emeritus at the State University of New York College at Brockport. He is the author of John Quincy Adams and coeditor, with Kenneth Paul O'Brien, of The Home-Front War: World War II and American Society.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in politics and history.
W. V. Buckley
The author does an excellent job of painting clear portraits of Jackson and Adams, as well as bringing the story to life.
Andy Glass
The role of this book is to break into the story behind the story which led to a ferocious election in 1828.
J.B. Hughes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jeff K on March 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved getting a "behind the scenes" look at the epic battle between Jackson and Adams, which was arguably one of the most interesting and important elections in US history. This book does a great job laying the groundwork of what led up to the bitter rivalry between these men, including what transpired during Adams' first term and how it was used against him, and how Jackson won the support of various organizations who ultimately championed him all the way into the White House. The fact that this was all on the heels of the collapse of the first party system made it even more interesting reading. If you'd like to know more about this watershed milestone in the evolution of modern politics, then read this book.

As a note, I also really enjoyed The Know Your Bill of Rights Book: Don't Lose Your Constitutional Rights--Learn Them!, as it gave me a better understanding of the Bill of Rights than ever before. I like that the author took care to reveal the ORIGINAL meanings of the rights, not the perverted lies that many pundits and politicians are pushing on us today...
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Eric Mayforth on April 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Coordinated media, fund-raising, organized rallies, opinion polling, campaign paraphernalia, ethnic voting blocs, image making, even opposition research, smear tactics, and dirty tricks". Is this a description of a presidential campaign in the television age? No, it the description by Lynn Hudson Parsons of the practices (some in embryonic form) employed by those who campaigned for Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams in the presidential election of 1828, one of the most fascinating and most important elections in our nation's history.

In this volume, Parsons reviews some of the events in the decade leading up to 1828, such as the Panic of 1819 and the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine, and relates how Jackson and Adams each arrived at their historic clash. The book shows that, then as now, candidates made plans to run for president years in advance, and the public speculated about the outcome of elections years in advance. Another parallel between the 1820s and subsequent generations is that Americans have always wondered if the up-and-coming generation of political leadership will be equal to the challenges that it will face.

One can scarcely talk about the election of 1828 without first analyzing the election of 1824, and Parsons does this masterfully. Parsons thoroughly covers Adams's term in office, leading to the big Jackson-Adams showdown in the 1828 election. He vividly recounts the aforementioned campaign tactics, central issues, and aspects such as race and religion that shaped the 1828 campaign. Included is a state-by-state breakdown of how Jackson won his historic victory, and there is a table containing the final popular vote and electoral vote.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on December 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable and enlightening new book on the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828. It does a good job of discussing the coalition of supporters that put Jackson in the White House. It begins, appropriately with the collapse of the first party system and the election of 1824, which shaped fundamentally the 1828 campaign. The author contends that this election served as a watershed in the American political system. We have known this for a long time, but Parsons's goes further by insisting that the election of 1828 forever separated the politicians and people of the second American party system from the era of the Founders and its genteel, Enlightenment political ideals.

The author deals both with the rise of new styles of campaigning--emphasis on popular rallies, etc.--and on the division of American society into divergent pieces that had to be enticed to support the various organizations that could carry on the job of electing officials and formulating policies that reflected the priorities of its adherents. I'm not sure I would say that this election represented the "birth of modern politics," but it is a thought-provoking way to think about the election and its meaning.

While this is a very fine overview of its subject, clearly the author's primary intent, there is not that much new here for those immersed in the history of the era. The class divisions, the sectional influences, the push and pull of political traditions, the economics of the time, and the culture of the Antebellum U.S. are all present, but I looked hard for a new take on this and failed to find it. Instead it is a useful and succinct synthesis that builds on decades of historiographical contributions from a range of scholars, among them Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. V. Buckley on August 12, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For most of us public school-educated Americans of a certain age, here is what our history classes sounded like: "Columbus in 1492 ... mumble, mumble ... Plymouth Rock and the first Thansgiving ... mumble, mumble ... Revolutionary War ... George Washington ... mumble, mumble, mumble ... slavery and the Civil War ... mumble, mumble ... cattle drive, cowboys, gold rush ... mumble ... World War I ... League of Nations ... World War II ... mumble, mumble ... zzzzzzzzz."

Most of us can recognize that Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams were presidents and if we really, really concentrated hard we might remember that Jackson gave us a victory at the Battle of New Orleans (though it came after the War of 1812 was concluded). But now Lynn Hudson Parsons has made some of those dusty names come alive in a very readable book that finds the seeds of modern politics in the 1828 presidential race between Jackson and J.Q. Adams.

This is a book that makes memorable a period of time that's often glossed over by teachers (or, more likely, napped through by bored students). There is enough sex, violence and intrigue to keep even the most bored student awake in history class. There's Jackson's famous temper that involved him in several duels in his younger years (and from which he still carried bullets lodged in his body from two of them). Then there's the scandal of Jackson running off with his future bride while she was still married to another man. The repercussions of that followed Jackson into the campaign and may have even contributed to his wife's death before he took the oath of office.

The Birth of Modern Politics draws stark comparisons between Jackson, the Southern little-educated orphan of immigrants, and Adams, the privleged son of the second president.
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