The Progeny of Jefferson and Adams

By |2019-03-26T15:39:34-05:00December 27th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Featured, Gleaves Whitney, History, John Adams, Stephen Tonsor series, Thomas Jefferson|

All Americans tend to look at the nation either as disciples of Jefferson or as disciples of Adams: Jefferson told Americans what they wanted to hear; Adams told Americans what they needed to know… I. I was having a beer with a couple of other graduate students. We were looking out onto State Street, [...]

Finding the Real John Adams

By |2019-06-06T18:34:10-05:00November 8th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Essential, History, John Adams, Timeless Essays, Virtue|

John Adams never had an optimistic view of human nature, and his experience in the Congress and abroad only deepened his suspicion that his fellow Americans might not have the character to sustain a republican government… Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Gordon Wood as he explores [...]

The Key to John Adams’ Political Principles

By |2017-11-25T12:39:22-05:00August 6th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Featured, John Adams, Liberty, Political Philosophy, Political Science Reviewer, Politics, Timeless Essays|

Of all John Adams' published writings, two works provide an especially fruitful resource for an inquiry into his deepest political reflection... Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join John Paynter as he unlocks the key to understanding John Adams' political principles, including those concerning liberty. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher  [...]

Four Things Every American Should Know About Independence Day

By |2019-06-04T16:05:16-05:00July 3rd, 2017|Categories: American Founding, Declaration of Independence, History, Independence Day, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson|

The need for understanding our roots is as timeless as the human story itself and explains why we cling to the Declaration of Independence. Most people know that the Fourth of July—Independence Day—is a celebration of America’s separation from Great Britain. July 4, 1776 marks the beginning of the United States. It’s like our national [...]

Russell Kirk on the Variety and Mystery of Human Existence

By |2017-05-12T09:10:37-05:00May 10th, 2017|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Founding, Edmund Burke, John Adams, Russell Kirk, Ted McAllister, The Conservative Mind, Tradition|Tags: |

Too often the public conversation about universal truths divides along rather sterile ideological lines. Russell Kirk’s great warning is that this is not really a battle of ideas, understood abstractly, but a battle of sentiments or affections… Since the nation’s founding, a salutary tension has informed American political thought—a tension between the abstract, universal [...]

Sons of the Founders: A Great Generation?

By |2019-02-14T12:45:29-05:00March 15th, 2017|Categories: American Founding, Bradley J. Birzer, History, John Adams, John C. Calhoun, John Quincy Adams, World War II|

When the second generation of Americans inherited the leadership of the republic, they must have felt, in equal measure, a mix of immense pride and a sense of dread… I often imagine how difficult it must have been to be the son of a Founding Father. Can you imagine trying to live up to [...]

Distresses Yet More Dreadful: Lessons from John & Abigail Adams

By |2016-12-22T07:03:07-05:00November 24th, 2016|Categories: American Republic, Featured, John Adams|

John and Abigail Adams remained faithful to what they believed were the permanent things. How might twenty-first-century Americans use their correspondence to better address the public questions that touch upon the fundamentals of American constitutional liberty?… When I look back to the Year 1761, and recollect the Argument concerning Writs of Assistance, in the Superiour Court, [...]

John Adams on the Passion for Distinction in Society

By |2018-10-23T13:06:03-05:00September 14th, 2016|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Civil Society, Democracy, Featured, John Adams, Liberty, Monarchy, Politics, Social Order|

Political Architecture: The Natural Order of the Many A full understanding of the passion for distinction requires that we look at man not only as the object of attention but also as the agent of notice, as he responds to other men who excel him in any of the qualities of fortune. Viewing men in [...]

John Adams on Nobility and Social Architecture

By |2016-12-16T11:36:57-05:00September 8th, 2016|Categories: Adam Smith, American Founding, American Republic, Civil Society, History, John Adams, Virtue|

Within his general view of man as naturally social, John Adams explored the nature of the passion for distinction. To speak of man as gregarious is merely to identify a human inclination to “go in flocks or herds, like sheep or partridges.”[46] But Adams went beyond that mere assertion and identified the nature of [...]

“Republican Government” According to John Adams

By |2019-06-06T10:41:33-05:00August 31st, 2016|Categories: American Republic, Featured, Great Books, History, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Adams, John Locke, Liberty, Natural Law, Philosophy, Political Science Reviewer, Republicanism|

As elaborated thus far, natural law teaches that legitimate government is circumscribed by liberty in a dual sense: It derives from the consent of equally free individuals, and it aims at securing the natural rights which comprise the independence of the individuals. But while natural law circumscribes legitimate government, it does not indicate the [...]

The Key to John Adams’ Political Principles

By |2016-12-02T16:36:36-05:00August 25th, 2016|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, John Adams, Liberty, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics|

As a political writer, John Adams is most remembered today for the constitutional prescriptions by which he helped to solidify the American Revolution. His Thoughts on Government was widely circulated in 1776 and helped hasten and shape the formation of independent states out of former British colonies. His Report of a Constitution... for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [...]

Finding the Real John Adams: An Interview with Gordon Wood

By |2016-05-28T11:26:29-05:00May 13th, 2016|Categories: American Founding, American Republic, Books, Featured, John Adams|

This spring, Library of America releases John Adams: Writings from the New Nation 1784–1826, the third and final volume of Gordon S. Wood’s landmark edition of the great patriot’s works. It includes letters, diary excerpts, political essays, and presidential messages illuminating Adams’s service as a diplomat in the Netherlands and England, his eight years as vice [...]

Thoughts on Government

By |2016-01-14T12:32:38-05:00January 14th, 2016|Categories: Government, John Adams, Politics, Virtue|

Editor’s Note: On the fourteenth day of January, 1784, the Revolutionary War ended as the United States ratified the Treaty of Paris with England. In honor of this event, let us examine John Adams’ vision of republican government. In 1776, Adams, then a member of the Continental Congress, penned his thoughts on how an American colony might construct a [...]

The Conservatism of John Quincy Adams

By |2016-11-12T04:20:20-05:00December 6th, 2015|Categories: American Founding, Conservatism, Featured, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind|

In The Conservative Mind, John Quincy Adams appears as a flawed, failed conservative. Though he “felt the pressing necessity for conservative principle in the conduct of American affairs,” Adams “never quite discovered how to fix upon it.” This is a serious judgment, given how much of Adams’ life and attention was dedicated to conducting [...]