John Quincy Adams: His Theory and Ideas

By George A. Lipsky | Go to book overview

Preface

Only recently has serious work been undertaken to reveal the significance of John Quincy Adams in the early history of the Republic. Before the work has been completed, the fullest justification will have been provided for the view that Adams should be placed in the very first rank of the statesmen and thinkers of our early history. No longer should it be possible to relegate him to the obscurity of a footnote or a passing reference, as he generally has been in general histories.

That we should have lived beyond the time of the centennial of his death without an adequate, full-length biographical treatment of the Sixth President appears to this writer to be a critical commentary on the vigor and perspicacity of American historical scholarship. The gigantic proportions of the task warrant no hesitation on the part of scholars to undertake it. Its very magnitude is a gauge of its importance. With special reference to the magnitude of the task, great assistance could be rendered by living members of the Adams family through a decision to release those papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, now kept from the free inquiry of scholars under the terms of a trust.

In the preparation of the present study I have been aided by the stimulating comments and suggestions of a host of friends too numerous to mention individually. In particular, I wish to indicate my gratitude to a former colleague, Professor Robert C. L. Scott of Williams College, for having first brought to my attention the neglect from which Adams has suffered. The late Professor Raymond G. Gettell provided objective appraisal that constituted an invaluable contribution to whatever may be the merit of this study. Similar forthright and constructive comments from my present colleague, Professor Charles Aikin, were of great assistance. For whatever

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