May 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm #14724bren.hydeMember
I’m curious about President J.Q. Adams’ accomplishments as president.
Prof. Gutzman, you mention what he wanted to do (nat’l university, observatory, etc.) and his peculiar swimming habits, but what did he actually do as president? Is there any source you recommend?
Where would you put him in terms of political philosophy? More generally, what would you say the relationship is between the philosophy of the Federalists and that of contemporary conservatives?
Is there any thinker or writer the Federalists all tended to admire? E.g., Burke?
Thanks.May 26, 2012 at 10:00 am #14725gutzmankParticipant
Adams’ administration faced strong congressional opposition from the beginning. The opposition’s leader was Vice President John C. Calhoun, who took advantage of Senate rules to appoint anti-Adams majorities to major Senate committees. One result was the “Onslow-Patrick Henry” debate, a newspaper exchange between Calhoun and an Adams supporter over Calhoun’s actions.
Besides thwarting the goals Adams laid out in his inaugural, Calhoun also cooperated with Martin Van Buren and Thomas Ritchie to create today’s Democratic Party. As envisioned by Van Buren, the Democratic Party was a Jeffersonian party–devoted to limited government, states’ rights, and strict construction. Among other things, it made Adams a one-term president.
Adams, a former Federalist, was essentially a Federalist in constitutionalism, although not when it came to sociology. Neither Federalists nor Democrats of that period can be equated to either of today’s political parties; each bears some resemblance to each of today’s political parties. This subject is worth an entire lecture.May 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm #14726bren.hydeMember
For those interested, I just came across this essay Russell Kirk wrote about a European named Friedrich Gentz. http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.php/detail/friedrich-gentz-on-revolutions/
The article addresses John Quincy Adams as well since he translated some of Gentz’s work. Here’s an excerpt for the article regarding Adams’s Burkean influence,
“Like Gentz, the younger Adams had been profoundly influenced by Burke; and though he tried to act the role of arbiter between Burke and Paine, Adams really was persuaded by all Burke’s principal arguments. His Letters of Publicola, published in 1791, had demolished Paine’s Rights of Man and had cudgelled the French revolutionaries, enraging Jefferson. The Americans, young Adams had written, had not fallen into the pit of radical abstract doctrine: “Happy, thrice happy the people of America, whose gentleness of manners and habits of virtue are still sufficient to reconcile the enjoyment of their natural rights with the peace and tranquillity of their country; whose principles of religious liberty did not result from an indiscriminate contempt of all religion whatever, and whose equal representation in their legislative councils was founded upon an equality really existing among them, and not upon the meta-physical speculations of fanciful politicians, vainly contending against the unalterable course of events and the established order of nature.” “May 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm #14727gutzmankParticipant
All very nice, but it has nothing much to do with Adams’ politics.
Like his father, he seems never to have paid much attention to the federal principle; it was this oversight that was his presidency’s undoing.
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