During the many years that they were separated by the perils of the American Revolution, John and Abigail Adams exchanged hundreds of letters. Writing to each other of public events and private feelings, loyalty and love, revolution and parenting, they wove a tapestry of correspondence that has become a cherished part of American history and literature.
With Abigail and John Adams, historian G. J. Barker-Benfield mines those familiar letters to a new purpose: teasing out the ways in which they reflected—and helped transform—a language of sensibility, inherited from Britain but, amid the revolutionary fervor, becoming Americanized. Sensibility—a heightened moral consciousness of feeling, rooted in the theories of such thinkers as Descartes, Locke, and Adam Smith and including a “moral sense” akin to the physical senses—threads throughout these letters. As Barker-Benfield makes clear, sensibility was the fertile, humanizing ground on which the Adamses not only founded their marriage, but also the “abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity” they and their contemporaries hoped to plant at the heart of the new nation. Bringing together their correspondence with a wealth of fascinating detail about life and thought, courtship and sex, gender and parenting, and class and politics in the revolutionary generation and beyond, Abigail and John Adams draws a lively, convincing portrait of a marriage endangered by separation, yet surviving by the same ideas and idealism that drove the revolution itself.
A feast of ideas that never neglects the real lives of the man and woman at its center, Abigail and John Adams takes readers into the heart of an unforgettable union in order to illuminate the first days of our nation—and explore our earliest understandings of what it might mean to be an American.
Long considered a classic, Benjamin P. Thomas's Abraham Lincoln: A Biography takes an incisive look at one of American history's greatest figures. Originally published in 1952 to wide acclaim, this eloquent account rises above previously romanticized depictions of the sixteenth president to reveal the real Lincoln: a complex, shrewd, and dynamic individual whose exceptional life has long intrigued the public.
Thomas traces the president from his hardscrabble beginnings and early political career, through his years as an Illinois lawyer and his presidency during the Civil War. Although Lincoln is appropriately placed against the backdrop of the dramatic times in which he lived, the author's true focus is on Lincoln the man and his intricate personality. While Thomas pays tribute to Lincoln's many virtues and accomplishments, he is careful not to dramatize a persona already larger than life in the American imagination. Instead he presents a candid and balanced representation that provides compelling insight into Lincoln's true character and the elements that forged him into an extraordinary leader. Thomas portrays Lincoln as a man whose conviction, resourcefulness, and inner strength enabled him to lead the nation through the most violent crossroads in its history.
Thomas's direct, readable narrative is concise while losing none of the crucial details of Lincoln's remarkable life. The volume's clarity of style makes it accessible to beginners, but it is complex and nuanced enough to interest longtime Lincoln scholars. After more than half a century, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography is still an essential source for anyone interested in learning more about the many facets of the sixteenth president, and it remains the definitive single-volume work on the life of an American legend.
Today the images of Robert Burns and Abraham Lincoln are recognized worldwide, yet few are aware of the connection between the two. In Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns: Connected Lives and Legends, author Ferenc Morton Szasz reveals how famed Scots poet Robert Burns—and Scotland in general—influenced the life and thought of one of the most beloved and important U.S. presidents and how the legends of the two men became intertwined after their deaths. This is the first extensive work to link the influence, philosophy, and artistry of these two larger-than-life figures.
Lacking a major national poet of their own in the early nineteenth century, Americans in the fledgling frontier country ardently adopted the poignant verses and songs of Scotland’s Robert Burns. Lincoln, too, was fascinated by Scotland’s favorite son and enthusiastically quoted the Scottish bard from his teenage years to the end of his life. Szasz explores the ways in which Burns’s portrayal of the foibles of human nature, his scorn for religious hypocrisy, his plea for nonjudgmental tolerance, and his commitment to social equality helped shape Lincoln’s own philosophy of life. The volume also traces how Burns’s lyrics helped Lincoln develop his own powerful sense of oratorical rhythm, from his casual anecdotal stories to his major state addresses.
Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns connects the poor-farm-boy upbringings, the quasi-deistic religious views, the shared senses of destiny, the extraordinary gifts for words, and the quests for social equality of two respected and beloved world figures. This book is enhanced by twelve illustrations and two appendixes, which include Burns poems Lincoln particularly admired and Lincoln writings especially admired in Scotland.
2015 ISHS Superior Achievement Award
What constitutes Lincoln’s political greatness as a statesman? As a great leader, he saved the Union, presided over the end of slavery, and helped to pave the way for an interracial democracy. His great speeches provide enduring wisdom about human equality, democracy, free labor, and free society. Joseph R. Fornieri contends that Lincoln’s political genius is best understood in terms of a philosophical statesmanship that united greatness of thought and action, one that combined theory and practice. This philosophical statesmanship, Fornieri argues, can best be understood in terms of six dimensions of political leadership: wisdom, prudence, duty, magnanimity, rhetoric, and patriotism. Drawing on insights from history, politics, and philosophy, Fornieri tackles the question of how Lincoln’s statesmanship displayed each of these crucial elements.
Providing an accessible framework for understanding Lincoln’s statesmanship, this thoughtful study examines the sixteenth president’s political leadership in terms of the traditional moral vision of statecraft as understood by epic political philosophers such as Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Fornieri contends that Lincoln’s character is best understood in terms of Aquinas’s understanding of magnanimity or greatness of soul, the crowning virtue of statesmanship. True political greatness, as embodied by Lincoln, involves both humility and sacrificial service for the common good. The enduring wisdom and timeless teachings of these great thinkers, Fornieri shows, can lead to a deeper appreciation of statesmanship and of its embodiment in Abraham Lincoln.
With the great philosophers and books of western civilization as his guide, Fornieri demonstrates the important contribution of normative political philosophy to an understanding of our sixteenth president. Informed by political theory that draws on the classics in revealing the timelessness of Lincoln’s example, his interdisciplinary study offers profound insights for anyone interested in the nature of leadership, statesmanship, political philosophy, political ethics, political history, and constitutional law.
Abraham Lincoln drew upon history in his political career and particularly when crafting the rhetorical masterpieces that still resonate in the present day. Jesse Derber explores how Lincoln’s views of the limits of human understanding drove a belief in--and untiring pursuit of--historical truth.
Lincoln embraced the traditional ideas that good history made good statesmanship and that an understanding of the past informed decision-making in the present. Seeing history as a source of wisdom, Lincoln strove for accuracy through a combination of research, reasoning ability, emotional maturity, and a willingness to admit his mistakes and challenge his biases. His philosophy flowed from an idea that authentic history could enlighten people about human nature. Though he revered precedents, Lincoln understood the past could be imperfect, and that progress through change was an ineffable part of building a better nation.
Perceptive and revealing, Abraham Lincoln, Statesman Historian looks at how the Lincoln practiced history and applied its lessons to politics and leadership.
This volume continues the incredible family saga of the Adamses of Massachusetts as told through their myriad letters to one another, to their extended family, and to such other notable correspondents as Thomas Jefferson and Mercy Otis Warren. The book opens in January 1786, when John and Abigail resided at Grosvenor Square in London, partaking of the English social scene, while John made slow progress on negotiations for an Anglo-American commercial treaty. Daughter Abigail ("Nabby"), also in London, had begun a courtship with William Stephens Smith that would culminate in their marriage in June 1786. Back in Massachusetts, John Quincy had rejoined his brothers Charles and Thomas, entered Harvard College, and begun to make preparations to study law.Writing back and forth across the Atlantic, the Adamses interspersed observations about their own family life--births and deaths, illnesses and marriages, new homes and new jobs, education and finances--with commentary on the most important social and political events of their day, from the scandals in the British royal family to the deteriorating political situation in Massachusetts that eventually culminated in Shays' Rebellion. As in the previous volumes in this series of the Adams Papers, the correspondence presented here offers a unique perspective on the eighteenth century from a preeminent American family.
“I cannot O! I cannot be reconcil’d to living as I have done for 3 years past… Will you let me try to soften, if I cannot wholy releave you, from your Burden of Cares and perplexities?” So begins Abigail Adams’s correspondence to her husband in these volumes: a plea to end their long separation, as John Adams represented the United States in Europe while Abigail tended to family and farm in Massachusetts, and passed on to John crucial political information from Congress.In October 1782, the Adams family was as widely scattered as it would ever be, with young John Quincy Adams in St. Petersburg, John at The Hague, and Abigail in Braintree with her daughter and younger sons. With the summer of 1784, however, Abigail would have her fondest wish, as most of the family reunited to spend nearly a year together in Europe. As the Adams family traveled, and as the children came of age, so their correspondence expanded to include an ever larger and more fascinating range of Cultural topics and international figures. The record of this remarkable expansion, these volumes document John Adams’s diplomatic triumphs, his wife and daughter’s participation in the cosmopolitan scenes of Paris and London, and his son John Quincy’s travels in Europe and America. These pages also welcome Thomas Jefferson, who soon became one of Abigail’s closest friends, into the family correspondence. From the intimacies of the children’s education, sentimental and worldly, to the details of the firm friendship between Abigail and Madame Lafayette, to the grand drama of Edmund Burke and William Pitt the Younger debating in Parliament, the contents of these letters draw an incredibly rich picture of international life in the 1780s and an incomparable portrait of America’s first family of politics and letters.
The historic election of Barack Obama was rife with references to Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the greatest lawyer-president, whose legal career spanned 25 years and 5,100 cases. President Obama’s ties to Lincoln are part of a great tradition begun by John Adams, the first lawyer-president, who combined a twenty-year law practice with major contributions to our nation’s founding charters. His son, John Quincy Adams, argued landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases both before and after his presidency, one of eight lawyer-presidents to appear as counsel before the highest court in the land. And Rutherford B. Hayes and Benjamin Harrison were among those lawyer-presidents who handled notable high-profile cases, including sensational murder trials.
These are but a few of the fascinating—yet still largely unknown—stories about America’s lawyer-presidents. Now available in an updated, expanded paperback edition, America’s Lawyer-Presidents sheds light on the legal backgrounds of each of these chief executives and how their experiences as lawyers impacted and shaped their presidencies. Written by historians and presidential scholars and featuring an engaging and image-rich presentation, America’s Lawyer-Presidents provides unique insights into our national leaders and their lives and times, from colonial days to the present.
“Bowen has probed the working of Andrew Johnson’s mind. His analysis illuminates the character of East Tennessee’s tailor president and the contradictions—as well as the consistency—of his policies toward slavery and toward blacks.”— LaWanda Cox, author of Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership
Andrew Johnson, who was thrust into the office of presidency by Lincoln’s assassination, described himself as a “friend of the colored man.” Twentieth century historians have assessed Johnson’s racial attitudes differently.
In his revisionist study, David Bowen explores Johnson’s racist bias more deeply than other historians to date, and maintains that racism was, in fact, a prime motivator of his policies as a public official. A slave owner who defended the institution until the Civil War, Jonson accepted emancipation. Once Johnson became president, however, his racial prejudice reasserted itself as a significant influence on his Reconstruction policies.
Bowen’s study deftly analyzes the difficult personality of the seventeenth president and the political influences that molded him. This portrait of a man who, despite his many egalitarian notions, practiced racism, will intrigue historians and readers interested in Civil War and Reconstruction history alike.
The Author: David Warren Bowen, formerly on the staff of The Papers of Andrew Johnson, teaches history at Livingston University
Few figures in American political history are as reviled as Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president of the United States. Taking office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, he clashed constantly with Congress during the tumultuous early years of Reconstruction. He opposed federally-mandated black suffrage and the Fourteenth Amendment and vetoed the Freedmen’s Bureau and Civil Rights bills.
In this new book, Paul H. Bergeron, a respected Johnson scholar, brings a new perspective on this often vilified figure. Previous books have judged Johnson out of the context of his times or through a partisan lens. But this volume—based on Bergeron’s work as the editor of The Papers of Andrew Johnson—takes a more balanced approach to Johnson and his career.
Admiring Johnson's unswerving devotion to the Union, Lincoln appointed him as military governor of Tennessee, a post, Bergeron argues, that enhanced Johnson's executive experience and his national stature. While governor, Johnson implemented the emancipation of slaves in the state and laid the foundation for a new civilian government. Bergeron also notes that Johnson developed a close connection with the president which eventually resulted in his vice-presidential candidacy. In many respects, therefore, Johnson's Civil War years served as preparation for his presidency. Bergeron moves beyond simplistic arguments based on Johnson’s racism to place his presidency within the politics of the day. Putting aside earlier analyses of the conflict between Johnson and the Republican Radicals as ideological disputes, Bergeron discusses these battles as a political power struggle. In doing so, he does not deny Johnson’s racism but provides a more nuanced and effective perspective on the issues as Johnson tried to pursue the “politics of the possible.”
Bergeron interprets Johnson as a strong-willed, decisive, fearless, authoritarian leader in the tradition of Andrew Jackson. While never excusing Johnson’s inflexibility and extreme racism, Bergeron makes the case that, in proper context, Johnson can be seen at times as a surprisingly effective commander-in-chief—one whose approach to the problems of reestablishing the Union was defensible and consistent.
With its fresh insight on the man and his times, Andrew Johnson’s Civil War and Reconstruction is indispensable reading for students and scholars of the U.S. presidency and the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
When Lyndon Baines Johnson wanted to go somewhere, there was no stopping him. This dynamic president called for Air Force One as others summon a taxi—at a moment's notice, whatever the hour or the weather. And the man who made sure that LBJ got his ride was General James U. Cross, the president's hand-picked pilot, top military assistant, and personal confidante. One of the few Air Force One pilots to have a position, simultaneously, in the White House, General Cross is also the only member of LBJ's inner circle who has not publicly offered his recollections of the president. In this book, he goes on the record, creating a fascinating, behind-the-scenes portrait of America's complex, often contradictory, always larger-than-life thirty-sixth president.
General Cross tells an engrossing story. In addition to piloting Air Force One around the globe, he served President Johnson in multiple capacities, including directing the Military Office in the White House; managing a secret two-million-dollar presidential emergency fund; supervising the presidential retreat at Camp David, the president's entire transportation fleet, and the presidential bomb shelters; running the White House Mess; hiring White House social aides, including the president's future son-in-law, Charles Robb; and writing condolence letters to the families of soldiers killed in Vietnam. This wide-ranging, around-the-clock access to President Johnson allowed Cross to witness events and share moments that add color and depth to our understanding of America's arguably most demanding and unpredictable president.
John Hay believed that “real history is told in private letters,” and the more than 220 surviving letters and telegrams from his Civil War days prove that to be true, showing Abraham Lincoln in action: “The Tycoon is in fine whack. I have rarely seen him more serene & busy. He is managing this war, the draft, foreign relations, and planning a reconstruction of the Union, all at once. I never knew with what tyrannous authority he rules the Cabinet, till now. The most important things he decides & there is no cavil.”
Along with Hay’s personal correspondence, Burlingame includes his surviving official letters. Though lacking the “literary brilliance of [Hay’s] personal letters,” Burlingame explains, “they help flesh out the historical record.” Burlingame also includes some of the letters Hay composed for Lincoln’s signature, including the celebrated letter of condolence to the Widow Bixby.
More than an inside glimpse of the Civil War White House, Hay’s surviving correspondence provides a window on the world of nineteenth-century Washington, D.C.
While basketball didn’t take up residence in the White House in January 2009, the game nonetheless played an outsized role in forming the man who did. In The Audacity of Hoop, celebrated sportswriter Alexander Wolff examines Barack Obama, the person and president, by the light of basketball. This game helped Obama explore his identity, keep a cool head, impress his future wife, and define himself as a candidate.
Wolff chronicles Obama’s love of the game from age 10, on the campaign trail—where it eventually took on talismanic meaning—and throughout his two terms in office. More than 125 photographs illustrate Obama dribbling, shooting free throws, playing pickup games, cooling off with George Clooney, challenging his special assistant Reggie Love for a rebound, and taking basketball to political meetings. There is also an assessment of Obama’s influence on the NBA, including a dawning political consciousness in the league’s locker rooms.
Sidebars reveal the evolution of the president’s playing style, “Baracketology”—a not-entirely-scientific art of filling out the commander in chief’s NCAA tournament bracket—and a timeline charts Obama’s personal and professional highlights.
Equal parts biographical sketch, political narrative, and cultural history, The Audacity of Hoop shows how the game became a touchstone in Obama’s exercise of the power of the presidency.
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