Richards' study presents not only a vivid portrait of John Quincy Adams but also provides an insightful exploration of American politics in the 1830s and 40s. Examining one of the few presidents who sustained a political career after his term in the White House, Richards depicts how two years after losing the presidential election to Andrew Jackson, Adams ran for the House of Representatives and served there until his death seventeen years later.
During his outstanding congressional career, Adams became a folk hero in much of the North--hailed by some as "Old Man Eloquent" and "the conscience of New England" by others--while much of the South feared him, regarding him as a traitor and the "archest enemy of slavery that ever existed." Richards explores in detail Adams' battles with such prominent figures as Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster on the issues of slavery, the Indians and their land, the annexation of Texas, and the potential war against Mexico. Highlighting his importance in the anti-slavery movement, Richards reassesses Adams' role as a political analyst and as a vital force in the turbulent politics of the day.
In this gracefully written volume Richards...burns through the romantic fog that has enshrouded Adams' later years. * Ohio History * This volume highlights not only Adams's career as congressman but also paints a clear picture of congressional politics in the days of the young republic. * American History Illustrated * Well-written and well-researched....Richards makes a convincing case that he was correct in framing his opposition and foreseeing the end result: the Civil War. * Chicago Tribune * A spirited study of how nineteenth-century politics worked. * American Heritage * A significant contribution, not only to Adams historiography, but also to that of early nineteenth-century U.S. in general. * Booklist * A well-written reconsideration of John Quincy Adams's postpresidential career....A useful corrective to the literature on Adams. * Journal of American History *