JOHN QUINCY ADAMS; A PUBLIC LIFE, A PRIVATE LIFE by Paul Nagel
Read : June 28 - Aug 6
Category : US Presidents, Histories, Biographies
Pages : 420
I have to admit that I knew hardly anything about John Quincy Adams (JQA) before I read this book. All I knew was that he was the 6th President of the United States and the son of John Adams, the 2nd President. I can no longer say that. This book was absolutely tremendous in telling the reader about the man, statesman, politician, son, husband, father, grandfather.
I won't try to convey all the information that Paul Nagel, the author, tries to give the reader. It would be impossible. What I will tell you is that this book tells you the history of man, who was brilliant, strove for perfection in himself, was ambitious yet scholarly and poetic, who wanted only the best for the nation that his father helped to birth.What I will you is that there were so many moments in history that he touched and was part of and never received the credit that I think he deserved if what is in this book is true. I say that because most of the book is based on JQA's papers, journals, etc. and could be biased.
Did you know that he was part of the commission that handled the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, or that he headed the diplomatic corps that negotiated the treaty that ended the War of 1812? Did you know that he was Secretary of State at the time that Monroe Doctrine was issued (I believe he was the one that put the bug in Monroe's ear)?
All this said, I don't believe that he was meant to be President. Not that he wasn't qualified, he didn't have the temperament for the political side of the job and the manner of his election (through the House of Representatives) didn't make it easier. After he was defeated for reelection by Andrew Jackson, he went on to a brilliant career in the House and was responsible for the protection of the Smithson bequest to the United States which we now have as the Smithsonian Institute.
As for the book, it was tremendously informative but it got weighed down by too many excerpts from his journal and sometimes there was too much detail. All in all, I'd read it again if I knew nothing about the man, but now I think, I may know too much.