Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 1

Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 1

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Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 1

Writings of John Quincy Adams - Vol. 1

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John Quincy Adams, son of John and Abigail (Smith) Adams, was born in the North Parish of Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts, on July 11, 1767. He dies in the city of Washington, February 23, 1848. More than fifty years of his life were passed in the public service and almost one-half of that service was in Europe, as diplomatic representative of the United States in Great Britain, Holland, Prussia, and Russian. He resided abroad in the period of the French Revolution and of Napoleon, and, as intelligencer to the Department of State, he described fully the events as they passed before his eyes, seeking the motives of the actors and the trend of public policy. At an early age, trained and encouraged by his parents, he kept an almost daily record of events, and continued it for more than sixty years, in itself an extraordinary labor to be performed by one who was so active a participation in the social movements of his day. He supplement his official despatches with letters, quite as detailed but in a different vein, to family and friends. His correspondence, public and private, was his own, and at no time of his busy life did he employ a secretary, even for formal notes. His state papers, legislative and executive, were drafted and not infrequently fairly copied by his own hand. His spare moments were occupied in poetic compositions, in translation from the classics, from the French, German, and Dutch, and in nothing down speculations upon subjects immediately before him. He never had an idle moment, and the records of his manifold activities are full and conclusive.

The first publication from his pen was his "oration" delivered at Commencement, July 18, 1787, on his graduation from Harvard University. Through the agency of Rev. Jeremy Belknap, this appeared in the Columbian Magazine ( Philadelphia), September, 1787. In June, 1791, began to appear in the Columbian Centinel of Boston, his letters of "Publicola," in which he replied to Paine's Age of Reason. thereafter and throughout his life he engaged in many controversies, wrote much upon public questions, and delivered occasional address upon many subjects. a small part of his controversial matter was printed at the time, in newspaper, pamphlets and volumes. A bibliography of his published writings, appended to these volumes, will afford some measure of their extent, variety, and general interest.

From this great mass writing a selection only can be made for these volumes, with a purpose to include what is of permanent historical value, and what is essential to a comprehension of the man in all his private and public relations. Nothing is suppresses which can contribute to this purpose, and the text is printed as it was written. Where the material itself is so full and varied, elaborate annotation would be superfluous. The editor has restricted his notes to the identification of individuals and indication of related material. In 1874-1877 the Memoirs or Dairy was published in twelve volumes, by his son, Charles Francis Adams, and is used in those volumes only when needed to explain the text. from the correspondence and state papers the larger part of this selection will be drawn, and so far as the correspondence is concerned, only a small part has heretofore appeared in print.

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