Democracy, Equality, and Justice

Democracy, Equality, and Justice : John Adams, Adam Smith, and Political Economy

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Challenging common interpretations of the political thought of John Adams and Adam Smith, Democracy, Equality and Justice offers an engaging and novel portrait of the political economy in America at its founding. The founders believed that liberty should not trump community, but should exist within the context of community. Drawing on extensive written records of the thought of John Adams and Adam Smith, the father of modern capitalism, Dr. John E. Hill argues that these two great men advocated a balanced, values-based, and just political economy. Adams, historically misperceived as a rugged individualist who favored aristocracy over democracy, actually emphasized political balance with no one socio-economic class dominating any other. Smith, incorrectly portrayed as a supporter of laissez-faire government, advocated economic balance with no class or individual receiving special treatment from the government. Applying their values of universalism and moderation today would significantly broaden the definition of morality in contemporary politics.
Democracy, Equality and Justice is a stimulating and sophisticated text that will encourage debate over the relationship between historical ideas and contemporary economic problems.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 286 pages
  • 165.1 x 223.52 x 22.86mm | 430.91g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Second Edition
  • 0739117637
  • 9780739117637

Table of contents

Chapter 1 John Adams? Chapter 2 Revolutionary Values Chapter 3 Virtues for Democratic Citizens Chapter 4 Individuality within Communities Chapter 5 Government and Self-Interest Chapter 6 Self-Interest and the Economy Chapter 7 Property and Democracy Chapter 8 Foreign Policy Values of the Founders Chapter 9 Democracy: Political Equality and Justice for All
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Review quote

Democracy, Equality and Justice is a passionate and innovative reinterpretation of the Revolutionary generation's political, economic, and social values. Drawing intellectual continuities between the work of John Adams and Adam Smith, Hill reconstructs the commercial humanism, strong sense of community, and republican virtue central to their ideas. Further, he argues that by revisiting and applying these values we might reform our own society. This is a valuable and refreshing contribution to the study of political economy, politics, and our many varieties of liberalism. -- Jose Torre, Author of The Political Economy of Sentiment: Paper Credit and the Scottish Enlightenment in Early Republic Boston, 1780-1820 This ambitious combination of intellectual history and social theory highlights neglected elements in the work of both John Adams and Adam Smith. Americans of all political stripes would profit from the wisdom in John Hill's book. -- Chris Beneke, Author of Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism, author of Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism Original and thoughtful. John Hill shows that John Adams and Adam Smith deserve to be reread for insights into contemporary problems of American government and foreign policy. -- David Bayley, Distinguished Professor, State University of New York at Albany
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About John E. Hill

John E. Hill is professor of politics and history at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. For more information, visit
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