John Quincy Adams: His Theory and Ideas

By George A. Lipsky | Go to book overview

17
Adams and the Major Powers

The sceptres of all the European continental monarchs were turning to ashes in their hands. Their crowns were dropping from their heads; the very instruments of power upon which they were leaning pierced their hands and sides. -- MEMOIBS, October 30, 1820


ADAMS'S REACTIONS TO BRITAIN IN THE WORLD OF NATIONS

In addition to the above conceptions as influences on Adams's strategic views in international affairs, his reactions to the key nations as myth complexes and as symbols of social values are important. Some intimation of these reactions has already been conveyed in general terms; more detailed descriptions at this point will add to an understanding of the premises underlying the foreign policy and strategic goals of the United States as Adams viewed them.

For example, with minor variations that tended only slightly to modify his basic attitudes, he always retained an "ineradicable antipathy" for Britain. It can only appear fantastic to one knowing the record to learn that late in his career he was charged with being the head of a powerful English party in the United States.1 He gave proper credit to the Motherland for her contributions of law, language, song, literature, customs, passion, prejudice, and philosophy.2One might reasonably suggest that Adams's attitude toward Britain was mainly an objective appraisal of Britain shortcomings. Such may have been his attitude, but the language he used suggests that

____________________
1
Congressional Globe, 27th Cong., 2nd sess., January 27, 1841, p. 183.
2
Adams, "Speech Delivered at North-Bridgewater, on Wednesday, November 6th, 1844", Boston Courier, November 11, 1844.

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