Monday, April 07, 2008

Week 6 - John Quincy Adams

Yeah, I know I skipped Jefferson, Madison and Monroe.  Look, if you want to know something about each President, read the bios like I do.  I can't be writing essays every week on these guys. 

JQA marks a bit of a turning point in the Presidents.  He was the first President not of the Revolutionary generation (although he was alive during the Revolutionary War, he was just a boy).  At the end of his term, Jefferson and Adams were dead (both on the 4th of July, 1826, within hours of each other), leaving no signers of the Declaration alive. 

I am kind of relieved.  Although they were all clearly imperfect men, it's hard not to get the impression that the first five all shat marble and were demi-gods.  Although Monroe was not quite the intellectual match for Adams, Jefferson or Madison, he was still an impressive guy.  In case you didn't know, that's him holding the flag in the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware.  He was also simultaneously Secretary of State and acting Secretary of War during the War of 1812 (which I know understand for the first time in my life) and he personally rode out at the head of troops to reconnoiter the arrival of the British in the Chesapeake.  Can you imagine Condi riding in a tank in Iraq?  

Adams followed through on Monroe's focus on foreign affairs and I have been enjoying the ride, but I have to admit that I am looking forward to Jackson, who, at the very least, was a certified nutjob.

After Jackson, though, the going gets heavy.  Check out this post-Jackson lineup:

Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
Jame Buchanan

Oy, that's eight weeks of hell.


Tony Alva said...

"although he was alive during the Revolutionary War, he was just a boy"

But wasn't he whosy whatsy's secratary at the age of 14 when his dad sent him to St. Petersburg during the Revolution? Even at 14 the kid had to be building mad diplomatic skillz with a gig like that.

Jackson said...

Yeah, it's gets all Indain Killing and States Rights for the next 30 years.

Have fun.

My Wars of the Roses marathon is going well. Quite a bit of it is very similar to what's going on today in the USA. Except I surmise that we'll let G W live.

Dave Cavalier said...

Jackson -

It really is so depressing reading about the southern states and their maneuvering to avoid being outnumbered by the northern, non-slave states. Sometimes I will be reading a long passage and suddenly remember that we are talking about the right to own other human beings. It's so twisted that it is hard to get one's head around it.

Tony -

Yeah, he did go to St. Petersburg as Francis Dana's private secretary. He spent a good deal of his formative years in Europe and his father often complained that he spoke French better than he spoke English. He also came within a hair's breadth of getting his degree from the University of Leyden, instead of Harvard. And he was also married in London.

Today, we would burn such a person on the suspicion of being crypto-Euro-trash.