Thursday, April 14, 2011

Discoures on Davila

Check out John Adam's Discourses on Davila at the John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library. Here is a nice summary of the Davila writings:
Adams articulated his thoughts on the French Revolution and its implications for the United States in a series of newspaper essays, the Discourses on Davila. He predicted that the revolution, having abolished the aristocratic institutions necessary to preserve stability and order, was doomed to failure. He warned that the United States would share a similar fate if it failed to honor and encourage with titles and appropriate ceremony its own "natural aristocracy" of talented and propertied public men. Adams even went so far as to predict that a hereditary American aristocracy would be necessary in the event that the "natural" variety failed to emerge. The Davila essays were consistent with Adams' longstanding belief that a strong stabilizing force—a strong executive, a hereditary senate, or a natural aristocracy—was an essential bulwark of popular liberties. They also reflected his recent humiliation at the hands of Alexander Hamilton. Still smarting from his low electoral count in the 1788 presidential election, Adams observed in the thirty-second essay that "hereditary succession was attended with fewer evils than frequent elections." As Peter Shaw has noted in his study of Adams' character, "it would be difficult to imagine . . . a more impolitic act." The Discourses on Davila, together with Adams' earlier support for titles and ceremony, convinced his Republican opponents that he was an enemy of republican government. Rumors that Washington would resign his office once the government was established on a secure footing, and his near death from influenza in the spring of 1790, added to the Republicans' anxiety. In response, they mounted an intense but unsuccessful campaign to unseat Adams in the 1792 presidential election.

What is really neat about this collection is that these include Adams' personal annotations and the largest personal collection.

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