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Memoir of the Life of John Quincy Adams Hardcover – August 18, 2008
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In his first message to Congress he recommended all superfluous monies be used for internal improvements. He also supported a naval school, national university, and astronomical observatory, and a uniform standard of weights and measures as indicated in the Constitution. Nothing came of any of it. Jefferson, Madison and all of Virginia denounced his message. 2 years before the end of his first term Adams complained of vigorous efforts preparing for the next election which was so far off. He was not a mason. Adams believed the best option for the Cherokees was to make them citizens instead of continually forcing them to move farther west. But he said the people of the state would not allow it. He lost the election and then joined Congress. His view was never to solicit public office nor decline it when offered.
Jackson's vice was Calhoun. When proof was produced showing that Calhoun sought punishment for Jackson because of the Seminole War, Jackson was irate. He dismissed his cabinet, who were pro-Calhoun. Jackson supported his Secretary of State, Van Buren, as his successor. Adams had peace and tranquility in his cabinet for 4 years. Adams brought in men regardless of party. Jackson brought in men as a reward for having supported him.
Adams was against the southern strategy of eliminating all sources of revenue and choking the government. He supported revenue to support a navy and protect domestic manufactures, as well as internal improvements. When Jackson advised lowering the tariff due to threats of secession from South Carolina, and that federal lands be sold to settlers, Adams harangued him as surrendering the Union to the nullifiers of the South and the land speculators of the West. Adams argument is that these lands belong to all of the population of the Union and could be a generator of revenue for generations to come.
There are many instances of Jackson's overbearing character: appointing only supporters, lambasting Calhoun, dismissed three members of his cabinet for not regulating the social intercourse of their families by his dictate. In his first term Americans moved into Texas, part of Mexico, with their slaves. Mexico had outlawed slavery. The accusation was leveled that this was done so that it would be joined to the Union as a slave state. Adams was against all this and lost support in the South and with it the election to Jackson. Adams was against his veto of a bill for internal improvements, his veto of a bill extending the charter of the Bank, against his removing the deposits of the Bank.
Adams had a heroic performance at Congress when the Speaker refused to call the roll because of New Jersey having no representatives, and the House had not done business for 3 days. Adams said, I will put the question myself. In the chaos he was unanimously chosen Speaker.
Adams was against electioneering, which had developed at the end of Jackson's second term. Candidates traveled from state to state and spoke as did Methodist preachers under canopies.
William Henry Harrison defeated Van Buren in his bid for a second term and died after just one month in office. Adams said that Tyler's administration would be known for ¨slavery, intemperance, land-jobbing, bankruptcy, and sundry controversies with Great Britain.¨
Adams said that the writings of Locke, Sydney, Montesquieu and Rousseau constitute the foundation of the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and that of the United States. Neither is a democracy. They form a mixed government of democracy, aristocracy and monarchy, but with a fourth element, Confederacy. The 10th letter of the Federalist papers discusses the radical difference between a republic and a democracy.
More things change, the more they stay the same.
Title of Book: Memoirs of John Quincy Adams
Author: Josiah Quincy
Narrator: R. Keith Miles
Publisher: Legacy Audio Books, Inc.
Date of Publication: 2015
Time: 16 hours and 5 minutes
“Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
- from The Star Spangled Banner, music by Francis Scott Key
(N.B.: the song was written after the lawyer/composer witnessed the
bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814, when over “the American flag was
still flying.” It was a popular song during the War of 1812, later
to become the National Anthem.)
Memoirs of John Quincy Adams is a biography of the sixth President of the United States, giving life to the history of the times, the people and events and is considered culturally important. The biography is rich because it gives an intimate portrait of the upstanding personality of John Quincy Adams, all the leading politicians, the people he knew in foreign service as a diplomat and describes the events and motivations behind American domestic as well as foreign policy in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. In the background is the French Revolution, the war between France and the United Kingdom and the War of 1812 between America and the United Kingdom.
This Writer found the AudioBook fascinating, like a walk into history through a time machine. Firstly, noting the morphing of language since the late 1700’s, the very buffered and formal use of English with a more upright cadence, suggesting layers and layers of clothing, the very full dresses of the women in this time period, often needing the help of someone else, usually a servant, to dress. An example of language, in the words of John Quincy Adams “If there is a Bostonian who ever sailed from his own harbor for distant lands, or returned to it from them, without feelings, at the sight of the Blue Hills, which he is unable to express, his heart is differently constituted from mine."
The narration of R. Keith Miles captures the imagination with the perfect portrayal of an American upperclassman. Falling into the storyline, the events and personalities unfold like watching a movie, the drama of motivations and circumstances flower into life. For example upon the election of John Quincy Adams and his appointment of Henry Clay as Secretary of State, General Andrew Jackson, an electoral candidate, was dismayed and brewing storms.
“Mr. Adams, being informed that it was Mr. Clay's intention to issue another pamphlet in refutation of the charge of bargaining and corruption, which General Jackson and his partisans under his authority had brought against them both, remarked: "They have been already amply refuted; but, in the excitement of contested elections, and of party spirit, judgment becomes the slave of the will. Men of intelligence, talent, and even of integrity upon other occasions, surrender themselves to their passions, believe anything, with and without, and even against evidence, according as it suits their own wishes."
Secondly, I noticed the difference in the social economy, the biography takes place in the last of the 18th century just before the Industrial Revolution. Between countries all goods and a majority of travel occurs by wooden sailing ships. The main events of the War of 1812 occur on the open seas with blockades and searches, the impeding of commerce and using artillery. The events of this era set the stage for the Industrial Revolution and the rise of everyman with the change of government structure from monarchies to constitutional governments. America was in formation acquiring the southern territories. The seeds were sewn for freedom, with the beginnings of the debate over the freeing of slaves and the abolitionists (supported by John Quincy Adams), which eventually lead to the American Civil War (1861-1865).
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) a lawyer, diplomat, politician, professor and a man of letters, studies Latin, German, French, Greek and astronomy, reads the Bible, is an avid reader and became the President of the United States (1825-1829). His father, John Adams, was a diplomat in Europe before becoming President of the United States and John Quincy Adams travelled and studied in Europe as a child to eventually follow in his footsteps. He is a man of upstanding character and intellect, named after his great-grandfather John Quincy. "My great-grandfather, John Quincy,  was dying when I was baptized, and his daughter, my grandmother, requested I might receive his name. This fact, recorded by my father at the time, is not without a moral to my heart, and has connected with that portion of my name a charm of mingled sensibility and devotion. It was filial tenderness that gave the name—it was the name of one passing from earth to immortality. These have been, through life, perpetual admonitions to do nothing unworthy of it."
Writing as Marcellus in the local Boston newspaper he is for neutrality with European strife. "For if," he wrote, "as the poet, with more than poetical truth, has said, 'war is murder,' the plunder of private property, the pillage of all the regular rewards of honest industry and laudable enterprise, upon the mere pretence of a national contest, in the eye of justice can appear in no other light than highway robbery.”
In the lavish court of Emperor Alexander of Russia he resists the highlife. “The whole of my life has been one continued experience of the difficulty of a man's adhering to the principle of living within his income; the first and most important principle of private economy. In this country beyond all others, and in my situation more than any other, the temptations to expense amount almost to compulsion. I have withstood them hitherto, and hope for firmness of character to withstand them in future."
He is a man of God, “Religion was also in his mind a predominating element. A practice, which he prescribed to himself, and never omitted, of reading daily five chapters in the Bible, familiarized his mind with its pages. In connection with these studies he read habitually the works of Butler, Bossuet, Tillotson, Massillon, Atterbury, and Watts.”
Upon being appointed Secretary of State to President Monroe he states “My business is to serve the public to the best of my abilities in the station assigned to me, and not to intrigue for my own advancement.”
Mr. Adams is an abolitionist who did not agree with slavery. "The condition of master and slave is," he considered, "by the laws of nature and of God, a state of perpetual, inextinguishable war.”
It was a time of change from the way of the Indian peoples in the United States and there had been trouble with the Creeks and Cherokee Indians in the state of Georgia. “My own opinion is that the most benevolent course towards them would be to give them the rights and subject them to the duties of citizens, as a part of our own people. But even this the people of the states within which they are situated would not permit."
Memoirs of John Quincy Adams is fascinating, rich in historical detail, the raizing of the ship the Chesepeake leading to an embargo and war with the U.K., the formation of the Monroe Doctrine, the election of President Monroe, the election of President John Quincy Adams, the election of President Andrew Jackson, the voting in Congress, the negotiating of key treaties by Mr. Adams all bring American history to life. An exciting historical treatise and in his own words, based on Mr. Adams letters, writings and conversations, time travel into American history with Memoirs of John Quincy Adams and Legacy AudioBooks.