John Adams’s Republic: The One, the Few, and the Many
Irony surrounds the release of Ryerson’s portrait of the complexities of political thought that defined America’s second president. “When John Adams retired from office in March 1801, he was disrespected, hated, and even reviled by many Federalists and virtually all democratic Republicans.” Thinly masquerading as a biography, this might better serve graduate students of political science in pursuit of an answer to the question: What happens to the country as a whole when a president is elected who threatens to transform the office into a monarchy?
Ryerson, editor-in-chief of the Adams Papers from 1983 to 2001, may be among the leading experts on the subject of what John Adams thought about executive power. Were these thoughts formed before becoming president or afterwards? This work explores “Adams’ difficult relationship with certain Americans in Europe, with others still in America, and above all with members of the U.S. Congress–aristocrats all, to Adams’ way of thinking–that shaped his rapidly evolving ideas about republican aristocracy.”
At the present time, when half the voting public fears the demise of the nation at the hands of the newly elected commander-in-chief, we can take comfort in the knowledge that our nation has been through difficult times before and survived.
Richard Alan Ryerson
Johns Hopkins University Press