America’s Second-Worst Dynasty

Richard Brookhiser’s biographical study of four generations of the Adams family illustrates once again that the rich and complex history of our country remains a closed book to the ruling class and their literary apologists.  Brookhiser reveals in his introduction that his purpose is to create a usable past: “The United States is formally an egalitarian nation—The Declaration of Independence . . . states that all men are created equal.”  

John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, was one of the most experienced men in foreign affairs ever to be elected president.  He had served as minister to the Netherlands (1794-96), minister to Prussia (1797-1801), U.S. senator from Massachusetts (1804-1808), minister to Russia (1809-1814), peace commissioner and then minister to Great Britain (1814-1817), and secretary of state (1817-1825).  Brookhiser attributes John Quincy’s successful rise in government largely to John Adams’ position and guidance, as well as to Quincy’s native talents and intelligence.  Quincy accompanied his father on two diplomatic missions to Europe, where he studied French and received personal tutoring from his father in the classics.  Quincy learned French so well that, at the age of 14, he was sent to Moscow with an American diplomat to serve as his translator and secretary.  He served as his father’s secretary when John was minister to England. ...

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