Heir to the Fathers

Heir to the Fathers : John Quincy Adams and the Spirit of Constitutional Government

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In Heir to the Fathers, author Gary V. Wood examines the ideas that guided John Quincy Adams throughout his political career. For Wood, it is Adams' understanding of The Constitution of the United States that foregrounds a crucial link between the principles laid-forth in The Declaration of Independence and the original intent of the Framers of The Constitution. Heir to the Fathers traces this link through an examination of Adams' celebrated essay, Jubilee of the Constitution and, most significantly, through his defense of a group of Africans who mutinied aboard the slave ship Amistad. The contradictory relationship between what is stated The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution and the treatment of African slaves has been a persistent problem in any attempt to understand the legacy of freedom in the United States. Adams' argument before the Supreme Court, based on his interpretation of constitutional law, is an example of how this unique political mind comes to terms with this contradiction without abandoning the spirit of America's founding principles. Wood's discussion of Adams' political and intellectual life invites readers to reexamination the principles upon which the United States of America was founded. Heir to the Fathers is a salient addition to the study of constitutional law and history and American political thought.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 260 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 25.4mm | 589.68g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739106015
  • 9780739106013

Review quote

Gary V. Wood, in this penetrating and clear-sighted study of John Quincy Adams, renovates and augments one of the most significant "exceptionalist" interpretations of American political history. His book is an important contribution to the recovery of the foundations of American constitutionalism faithfully and vigorously pursued for many years by Harry V. Jaffa and his students. Claremont Review of Books Gary Wood has written a rigorous and thoroughly persuasive account of the political thought of John Quincy Adams. In a tour de force of political and scholarly analysis, Wood demonstrates the centrality of this theology in Adams' Jubilee of the Constitution and his argument in the Amistad case. This is the first work that attempts to understand Adams as he understood himself. Wood thus transcends the simple-minded historicist view that all political thought is merely an artifact of its time. Wood's thesis is novel and brilliantly argued. -- Edward J. Erler, California State University, San Bernardinoshow more

About Gary V. Wood

Gary V. Wood is a Lecturer in Political Science at California State University, San Bernardinoshow more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Adams, The Constitution, and the Contemporary Scholarly Debate Chapter 3 John Quincy Adams, The Founders and Slavery Chapter 4 Jubilee of The Constitution Chapter 5 The Africans of the Amistad Chapter 6 The Amistad Case Chapter 7 The Legacy of John Quincy Adamsshow more