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Showing 1-10 of 29 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 40 reviews
on April 19, 2015
Mr. Parsons supports his thesis that the United States presidential election of 1828 definitively marked a transition in American politics. Prior to this election, men became presidents by playing the role of the Mute Tribune. The 1828 election was the first with organized campaigns that featured exaggerated claims about both the favored candidates and their opponents, and this transition has continued for almost two centuries. There are several reasons why this happened at this time:
* Rise of political parties
* Transition from candidates being selected by caucus to popular vote
* Western expansion of the nation

Both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson were born in 1767 and, by most measures, had very impressive resumes before they ran against each other in 1824 and 1828. Which of these two men was the better president? That is slightly outside the scope of the book, but Mr. Parsons points out the strengths and weaknesses of both. Unfortunately, he seems to argue that the steps that each man took to expand the role of the executive branch were beneficial. Mr. Parsons suggests that Abraham Lincoln took the best from Adams and Jackson, but refrains from saying that Lincoln also took the worst. Jackson suspended habeas corpus in New Orleans as Lincoln did during the Civil War.

Mr. Parsons also makes sound arguments that the "Era of Good Feelings" was not so good and the "Corrupt Bargain" was not so corrupt. In the first year of his administration, Republican President Monroe made efforts to reconcile with Federalists, and a Federalist newspaper prematurely gave the positive label to the era thinking that political bickering would be minimized. This rapprochement was very short-lived, and partisan bickering quickly resumed over tariffs, slavery, infrastructure building, and other issues. The presidential election of 1828 featured the two frontrunners from the 1824 election, which was tainted by what contemporaries called a "corrupt bargain." The office of Secretary of State might have been even more prestigious in the early nineteenth century than it is today, as the previous four presidents had used the Secretary of State position as a stepping-stone to the presidency. But Mr. Parsons argues that this label was unwarranted. John Quincy Adams might have been naïve, but not corrupt. Clay approached him to offer his help; Adams did not solicit it. Appointing Clay as Secretary of State might have been naïve, not a quid pro quo issue. So, even though Jacksonians and other opponents denounced Adams for using this appointment to accomplish a political goal, Mr. Parsons argues persuasively that, other than this appointment, Adams avoided offering positions to supporters and terminating opponents to a fault.

One example of negative campaigning was the Jacksonians accusing Adams of putting a billiards table in the White House at taxpayer expense. This was due to an error in reporting such expenses to Congress that was made by Adams' son. The reporting error was quickly corrected (the president had paid for the table out of his own funds), but the Adams campaign did not realize that the correction needed to be publicized. The opponents capitalized on this oversight.

This book contains several surprising revelations. First, history and this book treat Thomas Jefferson with such reverence that it is shocking to read his expression of anti-Semitism on page 171. Another unusual revelation is the exercise habits of Adams, including nude swimming in the Potomac. Also notable is the question of political party labels. If the election of 1828 marks the birth of political parties, one would expect the party names to be better defined. But many sources refer to both candidates as Democratic-Republicans. Some call Adams a National Republican, and Jackson's party is referred to as Democratic or Jacksonian. Mr. Parsons simply refers to both candidates as Republicans.
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on December 21, 2016
The Birth of Modern Politics. Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 is a historical work that uncannily reflects issues we face today.

The 1828 election between the patrician John Quincy Adams and the backwoodsman Andrew Jackson was a defining moment. For instance political parties, which sputtered during the first years of the republic, were solidified. Even the seeds of a rudimentary kind of polling were planted in 1828.

Four years before, no candidate had enough electoral votes in the 1824 election. John Quincy Adams won through supposed collusion with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Henry Clay; here yet another seed of modern presidential politics was planted: conspiracy theory, paranoia, and personal attack.

The rematch of 1828 was mainly about the personal qualifications and fitness for office of each candidate. In other words, it was not about much at all expect demagoguery, misinformation, and sheer rank emotion
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on August 12, 2010
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. Despite their differences, each man had a respect for the other and shared a sort of friendship. That friendship ended as Jackson and Adams locked horns for the presidency.

By 1828 the rules of the game had changed in elections. While blacks and women still were unable to vote, white males no longer had to be property owners in most states to vote. This brought an unprecedented number of new voters to the polls and Jackson's followers were the first to capitalize on this change. Likewise, the 1828 election saw coordinated political rallies, early attempts at fund-raising, and, perhaps the most lasting legacy, political partisanship.

Though it's a long way from today's 24-hour news cycle, sound bites and candidates racing back and forth across the country (candidates left the campaigning to their supporters in 1828), Parsons makes a convincing case that the election sewed the seeds of change in American politics. One of Parsons' most astute observations is the anti-intellectualism that accompanies tarring one's opponent as an "elitist." That's a tactic that still resonates in today's campaigns.

This is the kind of history book that not only brings history alive, but draws clear connections to the world we see about us today. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in politics and history.
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on June 22, 2012
Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams have always been two of the more interesting historical figures in american history. Jackson is a man that should be celebrated on one hand, and villanized on the other. John Q. is also fascinating as he was a brilliant man who really accomplished nothing of any value during his four years as President. Parsons does a very unique job weaving the seams of this story together and creating a cohesive and fun read on these candidates. This election of 1828 was one that really fired up the engines of bipartisanship in politics and help to shape the process that is so visible even today.

First, I will start with the positive attributes of the book before discussing the negative. This book is obviously not a biography of either man. The role of this book is to break into the story behind the story which led to a ferocious election in 1828. However, Parsons paints a unique picture of both men. She traces the origins and stories of both in a very clear and linear path. While I have learned about Jackson in history class this gave me some more information about his background. His life as a youth is not one that anyone should envy. He was the son of immigrants who endured the loss of literally everyone in his family. His climb to success was of course perilous as everyone knows that Jackson had a volatile temper. Parsons also laid a nice introduction for John Q. He is one that in some ways had a sad life. While he was born into privilege and well-loved, it seems that his life was not really his own and he was being trained for his future during his entire lifetime.

She also did a nice job developing the storyline as it was neither rushed nor drawn out. She traces the steps and the burgeoning friendship of two unlikely friends. The chasm of differences between Jackson and Adams could not be more pronounced and their mutual admiration is an unusual story. The alliance between them was not merely political and it seems that they had developed a genuine respect for one another. It was in fact the election of 1824 that caused a breach between the two of them. Henry Clay throwing his weight to gets Adams elected enraged Jackson and brought about the accusation that the process had been corrupted, hence the name "corrupt bargaining." Of course, Adam's presidency was able to accomplish very little. His educated manner and polished style really made Americans more disconnected from Adams and his policies as well as ideals widened the rift between he and Jackson. The media and the election process severed their friendship and introduced a more pronounced ugliness in politics.

Parsons makes the argument that this was the election that really shaped modern electioneering with the mudslinging, cheap shots and party bases. To a certain extent she has a valid point. However, she failed to elaborate that the election 1800 with Jefferson was charged with political fire and had its own divisive factions. She did bring up but it seems that she played it down a little. While Adam's father stated that parties were negative for America it does not seem that he meant it and while she gives much of the rhetoric of the early fathers she does not always discuss the ways in which they contradicted their own ideas. It is true however that Martin Van Buren "the little magician" really fired up a base for Jackson and helped institute a set of practices that helped foster strong political partisanship.

Overall, the book was well done. It is a short book in comparison but I think it accomplishes the mission that it sets out to do. All things in the book lead up to the year of 1828. The implications of that year do have long lasting effects on the modern process. I agree that political parties create a situation that is good for the party but not always for the community. Communities are often the victims of the political process and this was one the reasons the fathers were against them.... at least in theory. Unfortunately, it is a fact of human nature that people always find reasons to divide and the story of our nations history is no exception.
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on May 29, 2012
Profesor Parsons demonstrates a generously broad range of historical opinions and observations in this book describing the election of 1828 and briefly the preceding presidential election. The reader feels assured that facts are presented where available and opinion is clearly noted and specifically cited within his extensive end-notes. This is a bit of history shown under the magnifying glass - presented to illustrate the birth of many (not all) of the characteristics of modern politics.

The read is easy and pleasurable and the conclusions are less about hero and goat, or winner and looser, or even good and bad, than the evolution of the political (campaign) process and the factors that influenced its evolution. The author offers that: "...competition for public office came to be seen as contributing to the Republic's vitality, rather than weakening it." (Prologue); "He [Jackson] emerges as an opponent of those who wished to attach public service to religious conviction..." (pg. 10); "The use of graphics, boldface newspaper type, cartoons, campaign emblems, nursery rhymes, and what one historian has called 'the cadence and emphasis of spoken language' proliferated in ways not seen before."(pg 160); and that "Van Buren's [Martin - the first campaign manager] coalition-combining the supporters of Crawford, Calhoun and Jackson-laid the groundwork for the nineteenth century Democratic Party."(pg. 188)

There is a biographical sub-text to the book, illustrating the characters of John Q. Adams and Andrew Jackson, but even that is principally focused on the life-experiences that would go on to influence their politics and philosophies. In the end, the Party of Jefferson has split into branches that either go on to become, or to morph into our two modern political parties. A recommended read if your interest is in politics, or this era of history, or these two Presidents.

-----kindle edition-----

Perfect! The new (May 2012) software update puts the table of contents within easy reach, the book contains very extensive end-notes easily accessed from within the text, and a there is working index that makes tracing a topic or character throughout the book an ease. All e-books should be this good! e-Book publication quality, ★★★★★ (Bravo, again Oxford University Press!)
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on June 6, 2016
You'd swear this was written as a way to explain the current election chaos! What an amazing story -- absolutely a must read for anyone feeling overwhelmed and confused by the current election situation in America. My goodness, if we survived all of this back in 1828, we'll get through whatever happens in 2016!
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on May 19, 2017
Excellent well written book on this topic
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on December 23, 2016
This work provides a solid summary of the events and personalities surrounding the 1828 Presidential election. It's certainly well-written, though I'm not sure that it adds much that wouldn't be found in biographies of either General Jackson or JQ Adams.
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on December 31, 2012
An excellent detailing of the story of the election, particularly the background and baggage that both men brought to the campaign. As you read this you'll see that what we're dealing with now in terms of the mud slinging and party lines isn't anything new, it's just on a larger scale. There's a quote from John Adams in the beginning pages that is pretty much prophesying the problems that the two party system causes. The author does an excellent job of painting clear portraits of Jackson and Adams, as well as bringing the story to life. A must read if you enjoy presidential bios or politics!
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on February 18, 2015
The title of this book implies that it explains the birth of modern politics, as in the birth of political parties. But what this book covers is not that, but rather a bio of Jackson and Adams and the 1824 campaign. It says very little about Martin Van Buren and what he did to create the Democratic party. I found the book too verbose with lots of details about things I didn't care about.
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