Diaries of John Quincy Adams

The Diaries of John Quincy Adams, 1779-1848
David Waldstreicher, editor

Library of America

There is perhaps no other statesman in the annals of American history quite like John Quincy Adams.

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“We could all learn from his insights.”

The oldest son of Revolutionary War patriots, President John Adams and Abigail Adams, John Quincy was destined for a life of public service, and he accepted this obligation, although sometimes at great hardship to himself and those he loved. His personal sacrifice and the sheer brilliance of his intellect are abundantly clear in his diaries, which he kept off and on from twelve years of age up until the day before his death. 

From his early travels in Europe with his father, as ambassador of our nascent country, Adams became familiar with the world, politics, diplomacy, culture and languages. After years abroad he returned home and studied law at Harvard, then became an ambassador to the Netherlands and appointed federal Senator from Massachusetts. He served as ambassador to France, Prussia (Berlin) and the Russian court before becoming Secretary of State under President James Monroe. His writings became the body of what became known as the “Monroe Doctrine,” the concept that the Americas were destined to be ruled by its inhabitants and not Europeans. In the highly contested presidential election of 1824, Adams was chosen by the Electoral College over front-runner Andrew Jackson. After his one term in office, Adams retired briefly and then was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he energetically advocated for the abolishment of slavery.

This Library of America hardcover two volume edition is a beautiful presentation of the words and thoughts of John Quincy Adams. As a young man Adams wisely observed, “…Men can never possess a great degree of Power without abusing it.” One can feel his passion for his country and understand his fears about its future. We could all learn from his insights.



For more information, see: https://www.loa.org/books/549-the-diaries-of-john-quincy-adams-1779-1848-boxed-set

Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews