Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I just finished reading the biography of John Adams by David McCullough. What a fascinating read! I discovered that Adams was more astute than I thought and Jefferson was no saint. The country struggles today with the same issues that plagued us at our birth.

In light of our current political climate, I was impressed by Adams’ statement, "There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader and converting measures into opposition to each other." Political parties, he also said, are to be "dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."

Even as two political parties were forming and the struggle for domination of our country began, Adams communicated his concern in such strong words that they reach us more than 200 years later. Our founding fathers were mere mortals and as subject to the allure of great power as politicians are today.

How do we know this? Because we have their letters. Much of the McCullough biography is based on the letters the Adams family wrote and received. We also have Adams’ books and essays about various topics he felt were important.

In an earlier post, I alluded to the loss we will suffer because people no longer write to one another. Adams’ biography is a perfect example. What I now know about our second president would not have been possible without his written correspondence.

Somewhere a future president is happily texting her friends or parents. Centuries from now, Americans will not know much about her because her thoughts will be lost in cyberspace. I hope that changes. I enjoyed getting to know Mr. Adams and I think future generations will want to learn more about their leaders, too.

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