John Quincy Adams: His Theory and Ideas

By George A. Lipsky | Go to book overview

9
Government: An Instrument of God

We soon concluded that aristocracy, feudality, nobility, could not be reconciled with a Government founded upon rights.

-- MEMOIRS, March 12, 1795


THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT

The study of John Quincy Adams offers the opportunity to draw certain interesting parallels between his ideas and relative place in the American politics of his country and similar factors with respect to American statesmen of the twentieth century. In a true sense representing an older, more conservative dispensation than that of Jackson, who came to power riding the crest of a popular wave, Adams may more than superficially be compared with Herbert Hoover as to relative positions in their respective countries, just as Jackson has been compared with Franklin Roosevelt. The analogies should not be relied upon too heavily, however, for an inspection of the substance of the ideas of the men will require the statement of major contrasts as well as similarities. Adams as a personality, forbidding, austere, even harsh, surely suggests the distant, rather cold personality of Hoover more than the ebullience of Roosevelt, but in some respects the political views of Adams were more akin to Roosevelt's ideas than were Jackson's.

Adams was with reason called the champion of "a great, magnificent Government," a fact that he and his political friends recognized to be a political liability in some parts of the country. No significant references will be found in his writings or statements to the "state."

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